“Shatter” by Lauren Workman

“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst…” 1 Timothy 1:15

I hate how difficult it is to hide a mess. Sure, you can shove the mess into a closet or under your bed… but I’ve found that only makes matters worse. The filth and mess becomes stagnant. Unchanged. Apathy begins to set up camp in the heart and mind. Wasn’t it better when the mess was visible? Sure, it doesn’t look very pretty…but at least you recognize you are in desperate need of an intervention… that something has to be done to clean or at least, begin to reduce the mess.

“Beauty in brokenness.” That is the ultimate paradox in my opinion. One that I never understood… but these past 2 years have been a beacon, shining light upon the darkness and uncertainty of the concept.

You may be thinking… “But I’m such a broken, dirty, messy individual… I hold no capability to reflect beauty.” Join the club. If nothing else, this past year I’ve been continually and brutally bombarded with the harsh realization that my once-perceived “all-together” facade has been shattered into a million pieces.

Something I have begun to realize about the state of brokenness is that it clears the dirt and grime that is holding the lies, hurt, struggle, pain, and charade all-together. But as you begin to recognize your own inability to hold it together any longer… all you can do… is eventually drop it, and it shatters. For everyone to see.

Recently, I made a mosaic coaster with my cousin. We were in a bit of a crafty phase this past summer– and what better way to get your hands dirty than to mix a little plaster and broken pieces of tile… carefully beginning to form it into a mosaic masterpiece? So we began thoughtfully crafting each small, individually-shaped piece into a design. When we were satisfied with the design, we mixed the plaster and spread it amidst the pieces…sure, the pieces were pretty and unique, but were of no use… or so it seemed. Only now were our coasters able to be used—they now had purpose… a purpose that could not be accomplished unless the pieces had been broken and gently placed back together.

It is not until something has been shattered that its innate fabric is truly seen. The moments that reveal the heart of a man are those that “shatter” him. Those dark, hopeless nights that scourge the spirit and break the heart. It is then and truly then, that our brokenness loudly proclaims its presence in our lives—the pain, shame, guilt, and bitterness can no longer be denied.

Shattering screams surrender… whether we realize it or not.

It is what we do with the pieces that will “make or break” us.

I know my initial instinct is to dispose of the broken pieces when something shatters. After all, who wants to deal with that mess? One could be injured by these broken pieces—harmed or burdened by the dreadful brokenness that lies helplessly all over the floor.

But you know what I’ve come to realize? Some of the most beautiful, breath-taking works of art have been crafted by things that first had to be broken. Maybe the original purpose for those broken pieces was not to be shattered… but for whatever reason, they had been.

Life, whether you have experienced it yet or not, has a way of shattering an individual. It is inevitable because we live in a fallen world. The first moment you shatter, you know it. You feel it in the deepest part of your being. It is no secret. And honestly, it’s not pretty or pleasant. You’re left in shock, not completely able to understand what has just occurred. It’s painful to have your fiber (whatever it may be), the very essence of who you claim to be and desire to portray, demolished. What do you have left?

A ghastly pile of shame, embarrassment, guilt, and fear… scattered all around.

At least, that’s what I used to see.

College has been a time of refinement, renewal, and refreshment for me. A season that my God has been redefining my view of brokenness. Because life happens and eventually, you must do something with the pieces… whatever that might be.

For so long, I was the one who shoved the mess under the bed. I’m all about efficiency after all. That option seemed the most logical, and well, Logical  my middle name. That was until I realized only so much fits under the bed. There comes a time when the mess explodes… I was in desperate need of a new “clean-up” plan.

It was then that I discovered that my God—the One who fashioned me together—wanted to restore me. To redeem my broken spirit. To use these seemingly ugly pieces in the creation of something new. Of someone new. These pieces had a purpose. In fact, they were finally in the proper and necessary form to be used for a greater glory.

“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners…” Isaiah 61:1

My God is not only my Creator but my Restorer. He makes ALL things NEW. He is the ultimate Craftsman, taking our brokenness and carefully placing the pieces back together. However, we do not appear the same when He is finished. Never.

Rather, we begin to look more like our Father. For where our own desires, ambitions, pride, shame, and guilt were, there the presence and restoration of our God resides.

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly…” 1Timothy 1:14

My broken pieces were (and are) now held together with the “plaster” of the overwhelming grace of my Father. Yes, it was more than evident that I had shattered… there was no hiding that. And it wouldn’t be the last time. But it was then that I recognized that this was the state of being I had needed to be in for quite some time. Broken, shattered, destroyed… before my God.

Brokenness drives us to the foot of the Cross. What other option is there? We are left with a mess, an emptiness, and an unavoidable wrenching desire to be whole once again. It is when we shatter that God fills us with Himself. He gently seeps into our deepest cracks, restoring our wounds, and binding up our brokenness. Our closeness to God—our new and fresh communion with Him gives purpose to those jagged pieces. They now glimmer with a new shade of hope… for they are no longer useless.

In fact, they never were.

They were simply in the wrong hands.

Life breaks and falls apart… but we know these are places where grace is soon to be so amazing. They may be unfulfilled, they may be unrestored. But. When anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord… Just watch and see. They will not be unredeemed. –Selah