It was a little over a year ago that I wrote the story of the broken egg. (Which you may want to read if you want to understand the context for part two.) A little over a year and a half ago that the story started, and so did the pictures. It’s interesting to look back on that first moment, lying on the floor with my camera aimed at an eggy mess, not knowing that act would be repeated time and time again, capturing brokenness on the floor. So no, if you’re wondering if the pictures stopped after last year’s blog post was written, they did not. It has become a ritual in our home, and it has taught me new things during the year 2017 – one lesson in particular.
What happens when the item broken is not simply a frustrating mess to clean up? What happens when the item broken is a precious thing?
First it was a cup. A pretty teacup given to me by someone dear. In an attempt at creative motherhood I had filled it with Adeline’s snack and put it on her highchair tray. She was, of course, delighted. But in a moment of frustration my normally very careful daughter knocked it from it’s perch. Only the handle broke, but so did my patience, and that was much worse. I couldn’t be satisfied with her look of shame and sadness. I had to make her feel what she had done. – This was something special to mommy and she had broken it after mommy had generously let her use it. – Of course I am ashamed of myself now. I was ashamed of myself then! There I was prizing a teacup over my child’s heart, and she clearly felt it. What should have been a teachable moment lavished with grace was nothing but humiliation for me and a guilty conscience and hurting heart for her.
I had to ask for my daughter’s forgiveness that day, reminding her over and over again how precious she is to me. While her response to frustration may have been the wrong one, my response to her was much worse. After all, I knew better, and she was only just beginning to learn self control. Furthermore, though an item may be precious it is still simply an item. It will not join us in eternity. A teacup is just a teacup. But a little heart, a little soul – oh, how much more dear!
Though the moment was not teachable in the way it should have been, God redeemed it to be a helpful reminder a short time later. This time it was a funny little collector’s plate given to me by a friend during a time that made receiving it very encouraging. This time it was not my eldest, but one of the twins. She threw it to the ground with little regard, and instead of remorse when it cracked, showed only curiosity. I surveyed the damage accompanied by several deep breaths. I remembered the teacup. All my daughters were watching to see what I would do. So we had a teachable moment. Amariah was helped to understand that her behavior was a wrong one, but she was certainly not made to feel that the broken plate was cherished over her. I was still disappointed because the plate had meant something to me. But after all, a plate is just a plate.
As I look back on our 2017 additions to the Gallery of Broken Things I feel such a sense of gratefulness. Oh, so many many things have been broken and I’m sure 2018 will boast the same. But through these photographs – tummy on the floor – God is refining my spirit. And after all – things are things and hearts are hearts.