I like decorating with old things. If it’s chipped, rusty, cracked, or peeling, chances are I want to put it in my living room. I don’t know what it is about old stuff that makes me smile. I think it’s just thinking about how everything has a history, how someone else owned it first, how it saw other places and other time periods and other uses before it made it to me.
I have two old plates hanging in our kitchen that we found in Chad’s grandmother’s house. They are both covered with different floral patterns, and they’re chipped and faded and pretty. Well, I should say they were. As Emerald and I were leaving the house to pick up the kids from school today, we somehow knocked one of them off of the wall, and it shattered into what seemed like a million pieces. It was one of those spectacular breaks that sends glass flying all over the room.
Emerald took one look at that ruined plate, scattered all over the floor, and she burst into tears. She kept saying, “Plaaaaayte! Plaaaaayte!” I think the giant crash of it scared her half to death, but she looked at the plate and then at the empty nail on the wall, and it just seemed to completely rock her world. She knew where the plate belonged, and she wanted it back in its place instead of shattered on the floor.
I held her close and patted her and we walked out the door without even sweeping up the mess because it was time for the school bell to ring.
I think she had forgotten about the plate by the time we got home with the kids. But, I had them go in a different door of the house to avoid the glass. And, once she made it inside and remembered the trauma of the broken plate, she cried again. She tried to walk across the glass, and when I got onto her she cried even harder. She stood and wailed and watched me sweep up the glass. When I got it all picked up, she looked up at me with a red tear-stained face and said, “Clean up?”
“Yes, I cleaned it all up. It’s all gone now.”
She smiled a wobbly smile and ran off into the other room to see what the big kids were up to.
Things in life get shattered. Not just old plates or windows or mirrors. Things that really matter, things that we were counting on. Jobs, families, friendships, health, even our relationship with God. Sometimes we wake up just in time to hear the big crash and see our plans in jagged pieces all over the place. We look at the mess, and we cry. We cry out to God and we wonder how we will fill the empty space in our lives. Sometimes, like Emerald, we are scared, and we don’t understand what has happened or how it will get cleaned up.
But, there is hope for us, even in those dark, messy moments. Because God always does the cleaning up. He can clear away the biggest disaster in our lives with one sweep of His hand. The key is being patient until He moves.
I don’t know where I’ll find another plate as perfect as that one to hang in my kitchen. But, I’ll find one eventually. When we wait on God, He will replace our brokenness with something better than we could’ve ever hoped for. If only we trust Him. If only we refuse to walk across the broken glass of our lives in an effort to fix it all ourselves. We can wait, and cry, and pray, and then one day, we’ll look up and know that it’s all cleaned up.
And we will move forward with tear-stained cheeks and wobbly smiles.