Monday, September 24, 2012

Fragile - The Parable of the Sea Glass

Who can see the word "fragile" and not say "FRAH-GEE-LAY" in their mind? I can't. That darn "A Christmas Story" has changed that word for me forever and now I'm changing it for you...Ha, Ha! A little comic relief when I am feeling particularly "frah-gee-lay".

I hate feeling fragile. It makes me feel weak. I hate feeling weak. Writing this right now makes me feel a little uncomfortable but there is a bigger part of me that feels strong, like I'm letting the weakness seep out of me. I need it to seep out, I need it to be gone so I will continue to type...

When I think of something fragile the first thing that comes to my mind is glass. The sound of glass breaking makes me cringe. The mess is the worst! Large pieces and tiny pieces of glass everywhere. No matter how much I sweep or vacuum I am always so worried I didn't get it all. The tiny shard I miss will no doubt get stepped me or worse one of my kids. The giant pieces I am able to grab are full of sharp angles that have to be carefully handled and disposed of as to not cut anyone who accidentally grabs the garbage bag unaware of the dangerous, damaged glass that is inside.

That sound of shattering glass is recognized universally. It's beyond language, like a baby crying, you hear it, and you know exactly what it is. So when your ears hear glass as it hits the hard tile floor, it silences any conversation you may be having. It trumps any other noise around you. It's the sound of something that just moments before was whole, full of purpose, had value and beauty, turn into a glorious mess. In a blink of an eye you have a million pieces of garbage. All the super glue in the world cannot restore it to the perfect form it was before. There will always be cracks, chips and seams. Even if it was worth fixing it will still never be the same. Even if pieced back together by a perfectionist, the cracks are visible which only shows how vulnerable that piece of glass really is. So why bother...the beauty is gone, it's purpose is gone, it is no longer of any value.

Or is it...

After only being here a couple of weeks we were introduced to the fun activity that is called "hunting for sea glass". We were having dinner at some new found friend's house, they live in Hull which is right on the ocean. As we were waiting for dinner, the kids went out to explore and found some very cool pieces of glass. One was a from an old medicine bottle, the others came from who knows what but they were so interesting to look at. Since then we have made sea glass hunting our favorite family activity. We separate, each going in a slightly different course and search in the rocks and sand. Every so often we come together to show each other what treasures we have found. We have found some amazing pieces both big and small, all different shapes and colors. Then we take our pieces home to wash them and take a closer look at each one. We wonder about where each piece came from, how old it is and how far it has traveled. We look for letters and words and google them. We have the glass displayed in different glass containers in our apartment. We all have our favorite pieces. These are some of mine...

The ones that strike me as the most beautiful are the smaller, smooth, thicker pieces. The ones that are cloudy from the years of being scooted across the ocean floor. The ones whose edges that were once jagged and hard, are now smooth and soft. They have been gently tossed across thousands if not, millions of rocks. The moss and dirt have discolored them. The waves themselves have slowly, over time, worn those sharp edges down as if to sculpt them into a stunning piece of art.

So how does this happen? How does something so beautiful, smooth and strong that stands on its own, come from something that was so fragile, so weak?

I have one of the glass containers we have filled with our sea glass sitting on the counter in front of my kitchen sink. I look at it a lot while I'm doing the dishes. My mind wanders as I look at each piece remembering who found which piece and on which trip we got it on. I think about how grateful I am for these special souvenirs my family will always cherish.

The other day I had a very interesting idea come into my mind while admiring the glass with dish pan hands and C at the table making playdough food for Cookie Monster...My shoulders had been particularly heavy with the burdens our life detour has brought us. I had been trying to push away my feeling of fragility but after keeping them at bay for sometime, I began to crack. I tried as hard as I could to keep from shattering completely, realizing that four precious people were counting on me to be strong. I didn't want them or anyone else near me to hear the glass hit the floor and silence their conversations. Thankfully I was able to break in a rather quiet, organized fashion.

There were not millions of tiny pieces everywhere. You'd think it would be a relatively easy and quick clean up because unfortunately, I have been broken before, which means I have been glued back together a few times now. And although I have been through this before it was still hard and painful as every other time. In fact, this time was harder than the others, mainly because my regular clean up crew was thousands of miles away. I had only Aric to try to put me back together and that poor guy has enough on his plate! The last thing he has time for is an emotional wife who needs to be put back together like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle.

(If I haven't lost you yet, here is where the sea glass finally comes in...)

After a few weeks of trying to be whole again and feeling disappointed with all the attempts made to super glue the pieces back together, I saw all the beautiful pieces of glass on display on my counter. That is when the idea came to me...being whole doesn't mean that I have to be put all back together again like Humpty Dumpty. I have been chasing that dream in circles my whole life! I have been broken since I was a kid. (broken homes tend to produce broken children, because a broken home is really just a regular old house with a bunch of broken people that live in least that's what Dr. Phil says...but that's a WHOLE other blog post) With every trial that has broken me I have just tried to super glue myself back together so that I could appear to be whole. Hoping that people won't notice my cracks and chips. So that I would be accepted by them and so I could accept myself. That was the only way I felt whole, valued and of purpose.

But now....(this is when it gets good)

BUT NOW, I realize I don't need super glue anymore. I am broken and it's okay. (and aren't we all in some way or another for that matter??? Some just have more pieces than others) Instead of trying to fit all those broken pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle, I am going to let them be as they are. This does not mean I will just wallow in in my brokenness or that I will never feel broken again, it just means that I will let the ocean of life, through Christ's atonement, work its miracle in me so that the rough and jagged pieces get smooth and turn into something of worth. Which is another reason I am writing this, so I can remind myself the next time I feel the frustration of trying to keep it all together when the only thing I can really do is just let it go and trust that God does have a plan, and let Christ be my source of comfort when I don't understand it.

I am not, nor can I ever be, a large pristine, perfectly clear glass container that holds the sea glass.

I Am the Sea Glass.

Some of me is pretty well intact, but I am also made up of many different pieces of glass that has been broken, shaped, smoothed and discolored by the trials of my life. I am whole by being what fills the beautiful container that sits on a shelf displayed for the appreciative eye to see. That is what God wants me to be. I realize that some people will walk by that container and wonder, "Is that really just a bunch of old broken glass sitting in a jar?" "Why in the world would anyone display it like that?" And that is fine. Not everyone will see the beauty in it. But for those who will not see broken glass but see art and admire each piece and ponder the story behind each individual one, they will see me...and maybe even catch a glimpse of themselves too.


Lindsey said...


Nurse Graham said...

Hugs to you, Jess.

This was beautifully written. Again, your wisdom astounds me.

Melissa-Mc said...

This post reminds me of the song by Kenneth Cope called "Broken" that talks about God loving broken things.

He does ask for a broken heart after all.

Hang in there!

Ashley said...

Beautiful post Jess

Rochelleht said...

That is so beautiful. I loved that. You are so amazing!!!

Randi said...

beautiful. made me teary. miss you! i thought of you today on our run. you are strong, loved and beautiful.

Lauren in GA said...

Jessica, that was so beautiful. I loved every single word. I am sorry that it is hard...change always brings on depression for me (I'm not saying that you are depressed, though...I am just sharing...) You are such a strong woman. I truly mean that. I draw a lot of inspiration from you.

Elena said...

This is a wonderful post. I took alot from it, but not sure how to express it. I know alot about being broken.I will summarize that accepting yourself as being so wonderful and beautiful because of your broken inperfections, not in spite of them is absolutely right and makes me so happy for you. Especially viewing it with a gospel perspective. I love sea glass. Much like you it has been broken, reshaped and softened, but stronger for it. Not perfect, but yet strong is good. Better to be broken and reshaped with time and useful, then broken sharped and tossed never to be useful again. Many wonderful things are coming your way in the future. The end is in sight.