Updated: Apr 20, 2020
Start with Part 1 of the My Story series.
Brave. Beautiful. Broken.
So...I broke the amethyst in my grandmother's ring.
(Don't tell my mom)
After discovering a chip in the stone that made it loose, I put the ring in a glass display case. For years it remained there...pretty, but devoid of purpose.
Until recently I discovered the perfect piece to replace it with--a Brazilian emerald.
Emerald is my baby girl's name. Adding this stone to the ring would level-up this family heirloom, connecting four generations of strong women.
Just one problem.
The stone was stuck. Loose, but stuck.
Decades of wear had made the metal prongs "work hard", and I risked breaking them in my attempt to remove the amethyst.
So I did what had to be done.
I got my torch. And a glass of wine.
Don't worry, folks. I'm a professional.
After heating it to a red hot 1200 degrees, I quickly quenched the ring in cool water.
The result was a huge mess!
Pieces of broken stone. Blackened metal. Empty setting.
Not exactly heirloom material.
I'll admit, this project made me a bit squeamish.
As confident as I'd like to be in my skills, there is SO much room for error with this kind of work.
What if I melted the metal? What if the new stone did't fit the way I thought it would? What if I loosened the solder and a decorative piece broke off?
(Did I mention not to tell my mom?? Or my aunts. Really any of my family.)
So why put myself through the stress when I could have just left the ring on the shelf?
Sometimes things have to be broken to be made right.
Water has to break for a baby to be born.
Ties have to break for the game to be won.
Clouds have to break for the sun to shine.
And sometimes hearts have to break to make way for destiny.
Never one to pass up a chance to show off His love of catchy phrases, Holy Spirit sent this phrase dancing joyfully through my consciousness:
Brokenness removes the barrier to make room for the brilliant.
Couldn't have put it better myself. I mean that literally.
I had never felt so raw and exposed.
Is it possible to age 30 years overnight?
In the aftermath of divorce, my soul felt worn thin, “...like butter that has been scraped over too much bread”, as Bilbo Baggins said in J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Fellowship of the Ring.
(Read the backstory in the first of this series, My Story: The Power of Choice.)
Looking back on that first summer in Kodiak in 2012, I see a young woman with a hurting heart.
Equally close to anger and tears at all times, an unfamiliar insecurity rubbed just beneath the surface.
Another unwelcome guest tagged along.
Like a long piece of toilet paper stuck to my boot heel, it trailed behind. Obvious, yet unacknowledged.
Who invited this sneaky beast to the party?
Oh wait. I did...
First, there was the shame of being found unworthy.
Then came the shame of giving up the fight...followed by the shame of failure...topped off with the shame of bruised, broken, and obliterated friendships trailing in my wake.
Especially that last one.
This was so out of character. What was WRONG with me?
Short answer. I was broken.
It may shock you to hear this. It still surprises me to say it.
I'm so glad.
Sunday mornings were my cry time.
I'd get dressed up, put my makeup on, and walk the .2 miles to church from my house.
Then I would spend the entire service on the floor in the corner, surrounded by a pile of discarded tissue, anger, and bitterness.
People eventually stopped asking if I was ok.
Two hours later, and worlds lighter (both in spirit and because I cried all my makeup off), I'd float my way back home.
During the week I journaled. And prayed. And received. And cried some more.
Add in some work, new friends, and stellar adventures to the mix, and that was my summer.
(That, and meeting the love of my life. But we aren't at that part of the story yet. I wasn't there yet, either.)
Just this week I was looking through old pictures from that first summer in Kodiak. Isn't it incredible what a face reveals?
Do you see what I see? What could bring about a change like that in six short weeks?
It might have been the sea breeze, midnight mountain summits, and the vibrant colors of Kodiak in the summer. There really is no place like Alaska's Emerald Isle.
As much as I adore the untamed beauty of this place, I'll let you in on a little secret.
Kodiak Island did not heal my broken heart or remove my shame-face. Jesus did.
"Those who look to him are radiant. They are never covered with shame."
Two Faces of Brokenness
Personal brokenness can be defined as either
1) "forcibly separated", "crushed by grief", "non-functioning"
2) "subdued totally; humbled"
Let me be clear about something: I was broken in BOTH of the photos above.
Does that surprise you?
It's because there are two kinds of brokenness. Two faces.
One is a shadow face. One is radiant.
One belies a sense of worthlessness. The other is embraced by love.
Brokenness is beautiful when it is offered as a sacrifice.
The Passion Translation words David's Psalm 51:17 poignantly:
"The fountain of your pleasure is found
in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before you.
You will not despise my tenderness
as I humbly bow down at your feet."
Gosh, that's gorgeous.
It gives me chills down to my toes.
I so badly want to share this truth with you.
If I could pour a big cup of the wine of God's love and give you a taste, the chalice would be brokenness.
To drive home the ring illustration, let me share something with you that's still resonating with me.
During my morning practice, I sat with pen and journal in hand and asked God,
"What is the point of brokenness? And what is the connection between these two kinds of brokenness?"
What is broken off is for your good. What is broken within is for my glory.
The glory of God is the beauty of His spirit. It reveals itself as light and life and goodness and truth. All of creation reflects this glory.
You are the crown of creation.
Heaven went bankrupt to redeem you, its greatest treasure. To restore all that was lost.
Recently I received this Word of encouragement:
"YOU are my pearl of great price (Matthew 13:46). Would I bury you in a field? Would I entrust you to another's care when I am the Master Jeweler?
I would take my treasure to the Studio. I would CLEAN it, inspecting it for flaws and inclusions.
Some inclusions I leave for character and uniqueness. There is no one like you. Anything that prevents my light from reflecting your rainbow color from dancing, I cut off and discard.
Submit yourself to this process, and your true BEAUTY will be revealed. Only when the cuts are made, the edges smoothed, and the final finish complete will you be ready to set... Then will I shine my glory to display my beauty for all to see..."
(Read the rest of this Prophetic Word: You ARE the Treasure)
When the amethyst in my grandmother's ring was broken off, it made way for an upgrade.
But even the emerald itself was broken in its own way. It wasn't unearthed in that beautiful teardrop shape, light playing off of its facets. Cuts had to be made for the fullness of beauty to be exposed.
Pave the Way
Like any transformation story, beauty isn't revealed in brokenness overnight.
It's all about PROCESS.
Think of it like cement.
First comes the mix of wet and dry into paste. Churning and tossing serves to keep the particles separated...
Until the proper time. Until the frame is complete and the conditions are right.
Finally comes the relief of pouring. Of smoothing and finishing.
Of setting and strengthening.
God will not leave you in a broken state. But he will use a state of brokenness to pave the way to your destiny.
Personal reflection is a funny thing. It breaks my usual rule of leaving the past in the dust where it belongs.
My friend Sarah is teaching her teenage son to drive. On a recent drive, he was particularly concerned with what was happening in his rear view mirror, to the point of distraction. Sarah pointed out to him, "It's good to look in the rear view mirror occasionally, so you are aware of what is behind you, but you have to focus on what's in front of you or you will crash."
Keep your focus ahead, but check that rear view on occasion. While we don't want to live there, reflecting on the past has its place.
Remembering the destruction and redemption of my own broken road has not only shown me how far I've come. It has also helped me see the hidden pain in those who are the hardest to love.
Hurting people hurt people.
This unholy ripple effect permeates the human experience, threatening to undermine joy, hope, and love at every turn.
I have a choice. You have a choice.
We can roll around in our broken pieces, re-opening wounds and damaging those around us.
Or we can do the brave thing...offer up our broken pieces as a sacrifice, and let the Master make us into his masterpiece.
We all have a story of brokenness. Are you tired of rolling around in your own broken shards?
Try this visualization: Close your eyes and picture broken pieces on your floor. They can look like a broken plate, container, glass window, or whatever else comes to mind. Ask Jesus to help you pick up the pieces. Give them to him as you say, "Here are the broken pieces of my heart (life, marriage, etc.). What do you have for me in return?"
Continue with Part 3 of the My Story series.
Can I ask one more thing? If this story has touched your heart or you know someone who would benefit from hearing this message, will you share it?
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Please leave a comment! Let's make this a conversation.
In Him we live and move and have our being.