The Beauty of Brokenness

The Beauty of Brokenness

                                                                        by Mary Beth Berry

   Often we have heard that God makes beauty from ashes – that He uses the hard times in our lives to
mold us and purify us just like a goldsmith might heat up the gold to burn the impurities out.   Those hard
times may or may not have resulted from direct choices that we made.  However we usually want to ask
the question, “Why?”  We ask, “What should I have done differently to prevent this pain?  I thought I was
following God’s leading but I must have been mistaken.  Now how do I trust myself to be listening and
hearing God’s leading in my life?”  We seem to think that if things are going well for us, we must be in
avoiding pain and discomfort.
   God, however seems to be interested in developing our character and deep dependence on Him which
will in turn develop in us deep strength and peace that cannot be shaken.  He is interested in
transforming us into reflections of Himself and His most beautiful glory.
   Let’s consider a beautiful glass vase.  The vase represents my life.  I know that God created the vase
according to His design and His purpose.  For much of my life, I have been trying to cooperate with God
as He is making me into a beautiful vase.  A vessel filled with His Holy Spirit that can be poured out as
love to others.  I understand that I am supposed to take care of myself as His vessel and to appreciate
what God has made.  But life comes along and the vase that is my life develops a crack.  Maybe the crack
is from an internal weakness or from a direct hit from outside.  All that was held within leaks out and I try
to hide the unsightly crack.  I had wanted to be a beautiful, useful vessel for God.  Now I am useless for
holding liquids and am marred.  However, I can now be recycled as a great candle holder.  The light from
the candle of the Holy Spirit within me can be seen all the better through my “crack.”   I’m a bit
disappointed.  I wanted to be the perfect, elegant vase.  But, I guess I’ll settle for being a “cracked pot”
with God’s light shining through me.  However, more and more cracks keep coming.  As I get older, I
notice cracks that were there all the time, but I never had the eyes to see them.  This does not seem to be
fair!  I thought the idea was to become more like Jesus over time, not to become more broken and
“aged.”  Sometimes, shattered is a better word than cracked to describe the vase of my life. A glass vase
completely and totally shattered, nothing left of the original vase at all, just the colored glass or pottery in a
heap on the floor.
   Maybe this is when God does His most amazing work.  Maybe God is up to something totally different.  
Maybe instead of fixing the old broken vase, He is planning to make something more amazing and more
beautiful than we could have ever imagined.  He is not likely to force those shattered pieces from our
hand.  But if we will hand them over to Him, make the broken pieces of our lives our offering to Him,
maybe, just maybe, He will glean great joy in transforming us. Think about a beautiful mosaic or the most
beautiful stained glass window you’ve ever seen.  Awesome beauty!!  And it is all the more lovely with the
light shining through!  Maybe the broken pieces of my life will get to be part of a beautiful creation that only
God can imagine.  Can I trust Him to make the best decision of how to use my offering of shattered glass
in His creation?  Can I trust Him to value each piece and to truly understand the pain that comes with the
offering?  Can I release all the questions and bitterness about the fate of my original vase and trust Him
to transform my life into whatever He thinks is best rather than what I have envisioned for myself?  These
are really hard questions and sometimes take quite a bit of wrestling to settle.  But peace finally comes
with relinquishing the end results to the One who created us in the first place.  Maybe some of us will get
to be lovely vases that remain intact.  But others, who have been shattered, might look forward to being
transformed into stained glass, a part of an amazing work that God is doing.  
   Might it also be possible that the work God is planning to do with us and in us is more important than
our avoidance of pain?   We will not get to experience the joy of cooperating with Him if we blame Him,
resist Him, and fight against Him.  I do not personally believe God inflicts pain on us (or throws the vase
to shatter it) but I do believe that He is powerful enough to prevent it.  When He chooses not to prevent it, it
must be that He has a better plan, a plan for transformation.  Remember when the children in The Lion.
Witch and Wardrobe, were asking about the great king Aslan,  “Is He safe?,” they asked.  “No.” was the
response, “But, He is good.”
   So, could it possibly be that when we think we are “in God’s will” and trying with our hearts to honor and
depend on Him, we might still make some decisions that lead to disaster and STILL be in His will? I
think so. Is the depth of our faith measured by the “blessings” in our life or by the lack of pain?  I don’t
think so.  Surely our faith can be strengthened by difficult times but I believe that difficult times can and will
come to those who already have a strong faith.  The blessings that God has in mind for His children that
trust Him through glass shattering times promise to be better than the benefits of having avoided the
glass shattering in the first place.  This is hard to believe in the midst of trouble, but gives me hope when
I get completely beyond repair and feel like shattered glass.
   Our God can be trusted, even when He has allowed life to shattered us, even when we have nothing to
offer but shattered pieces of broken glass.  He is the great transformer. He may chose to use the pieces
of our lives to create the most awesome stained glass window- something beyond my wildest

5 thoughts on “The Beauty of Brokenness

  1. Thanks for inviting me to read your blog entry, Meghan. It’s a wonderful thing to think that when we (our lives) seem broken, God takes the pieces of His choosing and makes something very beautiful out of them. Like you said, He literally transforms us.

    I can understand why this blog is so meaningful to you.

    Hugs and blessings,
    Pastor Sharon

  2. You have touched exactly where I am right now. No need to go into detail about my current circumstances because it’s just a another crack in the vase. I was raised to avoid pain and was taught that if the vase is cracked it’s my fault, that I should have been vigilant enough to prevent it. But if we can’t transform without pain and loss of perfection then my mother was wrong :-). Risk is the only way you can make lasting and valuable changes.
    And even as I write this part of me is still whining about what shouldn’t have happened to me because it isn’t fair that there is a crack in my vase and that I have been given pain by others.
    I will fight “turning it over” to God for a while, I guess, until I stop. I think one of the problems is that as Americans we are taught that our birthright is a “good” comfortable life and that if there are problems there are clever ways to win through to what you want. And if that isn’t what God wants then we are wrong.
    Thanks for posting this. I will go kicking and screaming resisting this view of God but I know it’s true. Even the robber barons went through periods of doubt and total risk. So the story of the “clever” out is a lie. And my poor mother was wrong.
    I know that combining these two things may be considered odd by others but if you read about Joseph Campbell, this same conflict between avoidance of pain and allowing a transcendant transformation is all there smacking you in the face. Some call Campbell anti-religious but he was probably the best defender of religious thought there is. His ideas and the ones expressed here are too close for it to be a coincidence. Heed the call and take the risk of pain and imperfection. Allow yourself to be shards of glass and be transformed into something greater.
    I’ll still fight this in my head, but I will have to embrace it sooner or later.
    Thanks again for posting this.

    • I am so glad that this touched your heart. I wrestle with these very thoughts. I know that I am priceless, one of a kind, loved, yet life screams at me differently. I wish I could silence those voices so that I could hear only the truth. Good luck with your struggles. Know that you are not alone. Meghan Thanks for the follow.

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