What if I’m too broken to heal? What if I’m too broken to serve God? What if I’m too broken to be a good wife or mother? What if I’m too broken to be fixed?
There once was a little teacup. Sally sat on the high shelf with all the other shelf teacups. Sally preferred to stay on the high shelf where no one would ever see inside her cup. No one could find out that her cup is riddled with fine cracks. Just a bump in the wrong place and she would crumble to bits.
So Sally sat up on her high shelf day after day with all the other teacups. They did their best to cheer up the other dishes, they did nice things for the silverware, but they never left their shelf. Once a year for special company the shelf teacups were used to serve tea. That was a grand adventure. The ladies sipped tea with their pinky finger raised, always very careful, but the shelf teacups were placed back on their shelf before the end of the day. It was all very safe, but that was quite enough excitement for Sally.
But down on the kitchen table there was this other teacup, Cindy. Cindy got used all the time. There was a big chip out of her rim, and everyone could see the fine cracks in her cup.
Sally watched as day after day Cindy was taken out of the cupboard. Most days she was used to serve hot tea. The teaspoon rattled off her insides something terrible. She was stained inside, lipstick often smudged on her white porcelain, tea-colored dribbles ran down her sides.
Sometimes they forgot to wash Cindy. A few times the kids used Cindy for their watercolor paints. Once the family went on vacation and Cindy was left on the counter and mold started growing inside her. Her handle had to be glued back on when she was knocked off the crowded counter. One of these days, Cindy was going to get knocked or bumped the wrong way and she would shatter. That would be the end of Cindy.
Sally thought it was all too risky. Besides, Cindy was obviously stronger than her to be able to withstand all that use. Sally couldn’t imagine how she’d cope with a chip out of her rim, or a broken handle.
Sally preferred her shelf. After all, sitting pretty on a shelf is what teacups were made to do.
DON’T DRINK THE KOOL-AID
I didn’t write that story to make fun of Sally, or say that Cindy was the better teacup. Rather, my point was that all the cracks, chips, stains, and glued-on bits didn’t keep Cindy from doing what she’d been made to do. Sally lived in fear that someone might see her cracks, that being used might end badly — and she’d decided the cracks meant she wasn’t good enough to do the job of a teacup.
What about you?
Do you think you’re too broken to be of any value? Think everyone can see that you’re broken, too fragile? Decided it’s safer to sit on the shelf (or the sidelines if that’s a better metaphor for you) so no one will figure out just how broken you really are?
There will always be someone who is stronger, smarter, better spoken, faster, richer, prettier, more secure. Always. Do what you’ve been called to do, the very best you can do it. Stop worrying about how other people are doing what they’ve been called to do. Stop worrying about whether you’re good enough to do the job you’ve been given.
See – what we broken ones have such a hard time believing is that God can use us because we’re broken. Somewhere there is someone struggling with exactly the same thing you’ve struggled with, who could use a friend, a shoulder to cry on, a good kick in the pants. Somewhere there’s someone who’s come from the same kind of family, who’s endured the same kind of abuse, who believes the very same lies about themselves that you do.
Every bruise, broken bit, limp, scar, or wound can serve a purpose if you use that experience to help other people. And maybe your job is to encourage them, lift them up, shine a light on the lies they’re listening to or even telling themselves.
Have you found a way to use painful past experiences or failures to help others? Did you find that brought more meaning, purpose – if you will, to what you lived through?