In the broken places

Trying to do too many things at once the top to my sugar bowl slipped from my fingers onto the tile floor. It landed on its edge. Just the right angle to break it. The only thing holding the fragments from flying about was the rubber lining that made sure it fit securely to keep out moisture. This wasn’t a Target or Wal-Mart sugar dish but an oh-s0-pretty blue set I found in a little shop in Nowhere’sville, Georgia. It’s been one of those days.

It started with a lengthy dental appointment, part of a continuing process to replace a crown that broke a couple of weeks ago. I’m sensing a theme here: broken.

It’s a word that often comes to mind working in the recovery community. A reminder all of us have some kind of brokenness, and why spell check doesn’t recognize it.

So many thoughts about being broken are tumbling through my mind it’s hard to pull one clear thought out to examine it. Here’s the mishmash going on in what little gray matter I have:

….breaking the cycle, just enough to be strong in the broken places (Jars of Clay lyric), we must be broken and emptied before we can be filled for prior use….

My eyes are seeing this little sugar bowl lid, its pieces held together by the seal. It’s broken, but held together. There are chips missing so it won’t keep out moisture as its intended. It cat be patched but not repaired. Replacement is the best option.

Brokenness often begets brokenness. It’s a cycle for some. A wheel that spins round and round but goes nowhere. At least no where good. To break the cycle is hard. It’s like swimming against the rip current or being in a country where you don’t understand the language. You try to learn but it’s so hard and everyone else seems too far ahead. Too confident. They don’t look broken at all.

But we are, I suspect. Maybe cracks for some or seams starting to pull. Or maybe we’ve filled our holes with putty and painted pretty over it so it doesn’t show.

I wear a smile over my broken parts. It does wonders to make others think they aren’t there. When really, it’s the broken places that have shaped me. Shaped my heart and taught me how to see others who are broken. The gaping holes have been filled by grace. Grace smiles big and loves hard. Grace isn’t afraid of sharp edges some broken pieces have. At times the heart gets bruised and scraped and you wonder if there’s any left to give. And that’s just the time it’s there.

When I first heard this song I didn’t understand the contradictions but was so drawn to just that. The last verse and chorus says:

Confused enough to know direction
The sun eclipsed enough to shine
Be still enough to finally tremble
And see enough to know I’m blind
And see enough to know I’m blind

It’s just enough to be strong
In the broken places, in the broken places
It’s just enough to be strong
Should the world rely on faith tonight

I don’t know that I understand it any better but I know I see enough to know I’m blind. I know I find comfort that it’s just enough to be strong in the broken places. There is something, Someone, holding me together. It’s the seal he’s placed around my heart. Many times it feels strained and pushed to its very limits but I know it’s just enough to be strong in the broken the places.

Life Saver

Red flag warning rough seas

I’m not much of a swimmer. My childhood years were in landlocked states, no backyard swimming pools and no interest in the swim lessons mom made me take. But I had to take the life saver badge in scouts. I could swim enough, head above water style, to pass the badge. The main thing I remember from that class was the first thing to do when someone needs help in the water is to throw them a line or life saver. The last resort, is to go to the person in distress yourself. The danger was they could pull you in. You’d both perish.

It happens with some frequency here in South Florida. Often it’s tourist. The seas are rough, one is caught in a rip tide or current (under tow) and panics. This spring an older family member went in to help the one in distress and both drowned. Such tragedy.

Both of our children were lifeguards. Our daughter is director of the Aquatic department at the University of North Florida. She teaches the teachers. Guarding at a pool the threat of rip currents aren’t a problem but there have been times one of her life guards has had to perform a proper rescue: throwing the buoy out first before approaching.

I am often in fear of one of our men drown when trying to save another. Their intentions good. Admirable even. A friend has relapsed. They want to go bring them back. The difference with them and the swimmer in distress, some of those who have relapsed aren’t interested in being saved. Going in alone, without being tethered to solid ground, to a foundation, they can be pulled in to the under tow.

I see this in my mind but their eyes are blurred by the thought of being rescued themselves. They’ve forgotten their rescue started with their willingness to come out of the water. Once they stopped struggling, they discovered they could put their feet on the ground and walk to safety.

What is the answer when one is struggling, flailing about in their addiction? Who can help them? Who can save them?

Questions we struggle with, all of us. Our aim is true, well-intended. Do we let them go, sinking deeper? I don’t think I have the answer for you except to say, if you must, don’t go alone. Make strong your footing so you are tethered to a foundation and cannot be pulled by the one you are trying to help. And guard your heart from their rejection. Above all, remember that person in your prayers asking God’s guidance to you on their behalf.

If you will, please share to encourage another? Or allow us to encourage you if you are caught in the currents of life.

“Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.”