Rita Bass Coors was attending an auction for the Hospice of Metropolitan Denver. “Going once, going twice, sold for $7,000!” The auctioneer announced the winning bid and his gavel hit the table. Rita was elated. She’d just purchased a porcelain mask, hand painted by the singer John Denver.
She couldn’t wait to hold it in her hands. As the auctioneer at the Charity Celebrity Ball handed her the mask, it slipped through her fingers and shattered into pieces across the floor.
She just paid $7,000 for a mask which was now unrecognizable.
Instead of demanding her money back or abandoning the broken piece of art, Mrs. Coors picked up the pieces and took them home with her. Later, she decided to place the broken pieces around a collection of John Denver photographs.
She made something beautiful out of the accident.
I think a lot about how to make something beautiful out of brokenness. As a minister, I am honored to be invited into people’s lives at times of brokenness – a death, an addiction, abuse, illness, or any other of a number of things. I have learned that I cannot fix the brokenness. A younger version of myself thought my job was to be a fixer, to try to fix people or things. It didn’t take too long before I learned I cannot fix everything nor is that the best role for the pastor. Over time, I learned how to walk with people through their brokenness — sometimes as a listening ear, sometimes as a cheerleader, sometimes in prayer, and always without judgement.
Brokenness is a spiritual experience, though in the midst of it, brokenness just feels busted.
I’m far from a scholar in Hebrew, but from time to time I will study Hebrew words of interest during writing preparation for their original intended context in Scripture. The Hebrew word Shalom means three things — hello, goodbye and peace. The root of the word also makes up the word Shlemut, a word denoting wholeness or completeness.
I find it interesting that the opposite of wholeness is brokenness, and that, ironically, the contention held by Old Testament followers was that the opposite of peace is pieces.
God takes what is broken and makes it productive, wonderful and beautiful, working through our broken pieces to craft new beauty, strength and inspiration to others.
God’s Word reminds us that “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps.147:3), and “He has made everything beautiful in its time,” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).
This week, take heart that, despite the fact that though we may think or feel that we are flawed or unfit for service for the Kingdom, that God still loves and invests in us as His children, proving it through His Son Jesus, who willingly took on the brokenness of the world in exchange for our freedom.