“Broken Things”

And I don’t want the world to see me
‘Cause I don’t think that they’d understand
When everything’s made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

-the Goo Goo Dolls “Iris”

It’s been several hours since we arrived at the hospital today. This past Sunday our oldest son Brandon broke his right ankle playing a friendly game of flag football. Not content with a simple sprain…no sir. A visit to the ER and follow up trip to the bone & joint clinic confirmed the need for a ‘pins and plates’ installation.

The crazy thing is that he wasn’t tackled…there was no impact involved. The practice was essentially over when a friend told him to go out for a long pass. Brandon ran and was making his cut when his ankle rolled. He later told me he heard the bones snap.

Broken things. So many things broken…reminders of the fall.

I am all too familiar with broken. I was born that way, with a crippled foot. Watching Brandon trying to navigate crutches and a wheelchair brought back memories I’d prefer to stay filed. Thankfully the surgery went well and in a few weeks he’ll essentially be back to normal.

Except for the scars.

These days when something breaks, it’s easier just to throw it away. It’s more difficult to repair…the costs are too high. The thing broken loses it’s value, making it essentially worthless. We want pristine and perfect. Anything less is unacceptable. Being scarred and broken isn’t a good witness…

But there are broken people in this world. Oh, I know we can technically mark us all in the ‘broken’ category. Our fallen nature and all. I am so thankful for the work Christ has done for us and in us, changing our hearts and extending grace…forgiving our falls. A new heart has been placed in every Christ follower.

It seems a paradox to me that our hearts can be healed and broken at the same time.

So many church folks equate broken with wrongdoing. Broken=sin. In Brandon’s fall, he didn’t do anything wrong. He’d been running all afternoon with no mishaps. But on that final fateful route, something just snapped. No collision. No tripping.

Could it be that sometimes broken just happens?

Then why do we throw away the broken? We deem them to have no place…no value…

This past weekend I played a student retreat in North Mississippi. We’ve worked with this church through the years, and they have a great group of kids. Saturday night they played a game where they were tasked with going out info the dark woods of the camp and find glow sticks that had been scattered and hidden. The teams that collected the most glow sticks won.

But the student pastor used this game to ask some pointed questions, asking what life lessons they could glean. There were many good answers…but they did seem to fall into routine and expected responses.

Until one young lady spoke up. I didn’t catch her name, but I certainly remember her answer.

She noticed that the point of the glow stick was to…well, glow! A simplistic analogy to be sure…that believers are to be bright lights in a dark world. But she observed that some of the glow sticks were broken…

Even the broken glow sticks did what was intended. They may not have been as bright as the unbroken ones. But either by happenstance or design, the broken glow sticks were found in the darkest places.

Their light shone all the brighter in the darkness…

Those of us who are broken didn’t plan to be…didn’t ask to be. We hide in the shadows, far from perfect. Often misunderstood, and made to feel outcast, we don’t seek out the spotlight or center stage. We are reminded that we’re not worthy. That maybe we were meant to be broken…

Maybe so. But the Father knows who we are…so we shine our broken light in the dark and broken places.