Faith, Parenting, relationships, Spiritual Encouragement
Comments 22

In Which I Cannot Mend Broken Things Alone

In Which I Cannot Mend Broken Things Alone | www.alyssasantos.com

In a household of six people, a crazy cat and a couple of corgis, things get broken, as you might imagine.

Currently we’re operating on a reduced supply of drinking glasses and we’re down a couple of place settings.

Chips. Cracks. Shatters.

I keep what I can to be super-glued. I place spare handle parts in the mugs, collect the broken pieces and when I have the extra time, I take to mending broken things.

It’s not common in our consumer-minded society to repair, but instead, we rush to replace. We don’t darn socks or sew seams or patch knees worn through on jeans. We toss them and go to the store.

But when something gets broken, like that ceramic birdy-shaped cream pitcher or one of my favorite robin’s egg blue mugs loses it’s handle, I step in, super-glue in hand, to repair the damage everyday life inflicted upon my favorite things.

But today, as rain pours from the sky and my back and legs ache from lack of sleep, my mending efforts seem paltry, impotent even, against the forces that break trust and leave eyes puffy from tears and hearts sore from the loving.

Because my favorite things aren’t things, but people.

I cannot mend, cannot seal the cracks, cannot repair the broken places or worse, keep the Liar from sneaking in through the broken places whispering shame. My hands are empty and lay upon my lap, or rub my forehead for the hundredth time, or busy themselves with distraction. But they cannot mend.

So many years ago, when I had fewer children, less experience in life, my only daughter at the time broke one of my china bowls. I was angry; she felt bad. I sighed deeply and decided the bowl wasn’t worth more than my little girl’s heart. A few minutes later, she runs into the room with a bottle of school glue.

“I’ll fix it, mommy,” she says, “I’ll glue it!”

And she was small, so I could gather her in my arms and hold her on my lap. I gently removed the glue bottle from her hands and told her it wouldn’t work. The glue wasn’t strong enough; the pieces were too many and too small. No glue could repair the dish. And we were sad together. But I gazed into her dark eyes and affirmed her idea, thanked her for trying.

I told her she would always be more important to me than dishes.

And last night, when truth broke through the filmy veneer of deceit, we all felt the splinters.

And I’ll tell you mammas out there, and daddies, too, you never stop breaking into pieces. You will always be surprised by the intensity of the battle you must fight for your children.

You will always clamor for more grace, scramble for wisdom, stand in the gap no matter how shaky the ground feels beneath you. That is, if you know what your mission is.

So we were battling the lie but not our little liar, seeking the truth, flipping through pages on the iPad, looking for signs – any signs – that we could trust her, our youngest girl. And with every question we posed, her response was yet another lie.

We’ve been here before, this place where small fissures of dishonesty that lay beneath the visible surface break wide into yawning chasms. And every time we’re there, she panics and curls into herself and looks, to me, like Eve. Grasping at leaves, looking for a cover-up, afraid and insecure and panicking.

Eve and her lost innocence.

I have to be honest. I’ve never much liked the story of the fall of mankind in Genesis. It’s symbolism and storyline, it’s slippery characters and magical trees reek of mythology to me. Always has. Yet there it sits in its ancient truth as the beginning of the end and the inception of redemption.

Without the failure, there is no grace.

Without the lie, there is no truth.

Without the fear, there is no hope.

Without the breaking apart of all good things, there is no chance for redemption.

And I am ruined all over again, picking splinters of our broken relationship from tender skin. My heart whispers again, as it always does in times like this, “Thank  you God, that I am here, seeing her through to maturity.” Because I nearly died, almost exited this earth and had that happened, my children would have no mother, my husband, no partner in this task.

This morning, we’re all soul worn and covered in battle wounds.

She’s sleeping it off, because weeping indeed endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

It isn’t all better in the morning, just infused with light, cleaned by the rain and symbolized by a clean, open square on the calendar.

And I am listening to the dripping and the drizzle and the soft rhythm of her breathing and I remember my God-given mission, and the primary role and work I have as a parent:

2 Corinthians 5:11-21

11 Because we understand our fearful responsibility to the Lord, we work hard to persuade others. God knows we are sincere, and I hope you know this, too.

12 Are we commending ourselves to you again? No, we are giving you a reason to be proud of us, so you can answer those who brag about having a spectacular ministry rather than having a sincere heart.

13 If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit.

14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life.

15 He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.

19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.

20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

My husband, before he padded off to bed said this, “This isn’t our first rodeo. We know how to get in there and fight.”

Indeed.

And we know the strength is not our own, the battle is for us to fight but the winning has been done and the mission is a holy one.

///

Dear Friends,

Don’t lose heart. As a parent, a friend, even as you learn to love your own self in a healthy way, there will be brokenness. God made Christ to be the offering, the glue that spreads across the chasms and holds our pieces fast and true, so that we could be made right with God.

You are preapproved.

Even the mistakes and the bad choices and lies and deceit cannot ever separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:31-39).  No temptation has seized you (or those you love) except what is common to man, but when you are tempted, he will be faithful to show you a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Our way out is often through. As my friend, Jennifer, wrote in her book, Love Idol, something her pastor said: “the cure is the process…”.

No, this isn’t our first rodeo. We’ve evicted idols from our household before. Not just kicked out idols from our hearts, but from the culture of our family.

In a society informed by media and a childhood marked by status updates and display pics, fan fiction and endless gaming, my kids are awash in culture.

And that’s okay with me. We’ve chosen public schooling and raising our kids to be salt and light within a culture of reheated misguided religiosity and dark, futile thinking. We’re raising our kids to be cultural change-agents, and we can’t do that if we’re sheltering them with our fears of them being polluted.

And it will be over our bruised, dead bodies if we will give in without a fight. Our kids will know in their own broken and grace-glued hearts that they are approved, dearly loved children of God.

We’re on a mission from God ;). Don’t ever doubt it.

Alyssa

If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God.

And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. (2 Corinthians 5:13)

LoveIdol_FC_Endorsement_101413

Also linked up at the lovely Laura Bogess’ Playdates at the Wellspring

And, at Finding Heaven Today, with Jennifer

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22 Comments

  1. I have lived this out on our kitchen floor… standing with you… praying for you… laying down these Love Idols one by one, and bringing all of their – all of OUR – broken pieces to the One who mends us best!

  2. I resonate with your words about raising your children to be cultural change-agents. Our children also attend public school, and my husband is on the school board. We know that our culture has some negative influences, but we also know it holds has great beauty, because it belongs to God.

    • Jennifer,
      I think we get bogged down in the ugly of this world. I like what Ann Voskamp says about the ugly-beautiful. I’ve had my share of ugly beautiful and am so grateful for God’s promised redemption of all creation. And, there is no age minimum on the edict of being salt and light to this world — young and old, we all are living testimonies of his grace to a world who needs him!

  3. laura says

    We also choose to have God as the glue to restore the broken pieces. We choose to trust the promise that we are and can live as new creations in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:17) Let’s keep each other in our prayerful thoughts through out the days and weeks to come.

    • Yes, Laura, we do choose whether we want his healing, perfecting glue, or our own thinking. I agree. I love what Romans 12 says about our ideas and God’s ideas and how we can choose His 🙂 Always praying for you

  4. Oh, friend, the truth of this: “You will never stop breaking into pieces…” has been papering our walls of late. I’m going to re-read your fine words and draw strength here. Thank you.

    • Oh, I know these seasons. I told God last night that I’m not really up for it again 🙂 Since the accident, my body processes stress into pain. I hate that. It slows me down and makes me have to take a day to recover (not my idea of productive). But God’s gentle answer on the drive home last night was this: Take the recovery time to be slow and seek me and let me do all the healing. He’s slowed me down for a reason. And that reason will in turn, be reinvested into my kiddos’ hearts. Bless you Laura, as you slow and seek Jesus, too, because I know that’s how you want to live (your words always invite me to slow and seek, too)

  5. Your words have absolutley blessed me and encouraged me tonight. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your words. I will have to read this again and again. 🙂 Blessings upon you and yours!

    • Lori,
      Thank you so much! I’m grateful that our struggle can be productive in the redemption of whatever you’re struggling through. About six years ago, when we went through middle school with our first daughter, I learned so much. We battled through that year and came out tested, battle-worn and better for it. That was our first rodeo, and it was a doozy. But God taught me the holy work of being my husband’s wife and my children’s mom and that season built in me a great, great faith. I have had more opportunities this week to tell my younger girl, “I love you” than if nothing stressful or bad had happened. For that reason alone, I can find reason to praise. To reaffirm an unconditional love to an undeserving soul? That is Jesus work, right there, and I am embracing the task. Glad to meet you, Lori, and thanks again for reading through my words. Bless you.

  6. Oh, this. You know some of my shatterings, Alyssa. And we parents will break again and again until we reach heaven’s gate. We indeed walk with grace-glued hearts. Thank you for this.

    • Sandra – We have this longing for wholeness, for completion. We have an idea of what perfection will be when we have eternity to be perfect in Christ, yet I wonder…perhaps in heaven we should see all the cracks and pieces and where we’ve been stitched together and glued and what’s perfected is our vision: we’ll see that brokenness and truly consider it beautiful. I’m not sure, but I do know that every time I return to my source of grace, I find it plentiful, and the places He heals me, I am stronger. And I need his sort of strength.

    • I really love that song. And the bluesy sound of that band, too. Thanks for sharing it! Broken people are my favorite, too.

  7. This is SO perfect and beautiful, and I know will speak to so many moms. My boys are still young (6 and 8), but I see the enemy starting to test them, starting to whisper lies. Your words were a breath of fresh air. Hang in there. Visiting you from the WCCBloggers FB page, and sharing!

    • Thanks, Jaimie!
      One of the things that children teach us is how quickly we repeat and install the whispering lies. When they get caught in a lie and cover it up with a lie, all the lies echo the whispers. That’s what breaks my heart – how quickly we can plant the false notions of the enemy into our thinking. I love Romans 12 and the wonderful truth that we can exchange our ideas for God’s ideas! Then, we get free; free enough to serve God wholly. It’s a cool concept. 🙂

  8. Jen Ferguson says

    We’ve fought the Liar in our house before (and, really, daily). I’m praying for your family this morning, as the sun warms my kitchen table, that the Restorer would touch y’all mightily today. You are loved.

    • Jen,
      yes, so have we. And honestly, I get tired, after almost twenty years of parenting….But I am quickly reminded that it is in God’s strength that we do any of his work, so I can and will see it through. I love your prayers – happy that we can uphold one another that way.

  9. Jody Lee Collins says

    Alyssa, it took me all week long to get to this post. Wow, I’m so glad I didn’t pass it over. So much power in these words….hang in there. It is TOTALLY worth it. God bless you and your family.

    • Thanks Jody! I appreciate that you took the time to read — this was a little long, too, and I’m blessed that it spoke to your heart!

  10. Joanna Morgan says

    Alyssa, this is such a beautiful message. So beautifully said. Thank you for the reminder of the mission. Although my ‘kids’ are grown and they are my ‘steps’, their first mom went home to Heaven and I am what remains. This message helps me to remember what I know is true. That we do battle for our kids whether we birthed them or not. And lies happen to all of us. Thank for the encouragement. Can’t wait to see you this week!

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