There are times in our lives when we hold onto something tightly. A dream. A relationship. A career. A promise. And if we’re asked why it matters so much to us, the weight of our words never seems to match the passion in our heart. We build it up in our head and before long, it becomes part of us. We no longer view this something as ancillary, but as part of our DNA. And we tell ourselves that we will only be happy when we achieve our goal.
We will marry that person if it’s the last thing we do, and we will have the wedding of our dreams. We will work insane hours to climb the corporate ladder, even if it takes years to get to the top. We will sacrifice sleep and health and finances to give our kids what we never had. We will get our children into the right schools, the right colleges, the right grad schools. We will build our forever home, even if we plunge thousands of thousands of dollars deeper into debt.
But then out of nowhere, the relationship ends. The vows are broken. The career vanishes. The dream dies.
What then? What do you do with the broken pieces that are left in the wake of your crisis? And when you’re the one that’s fractured, how do you put yourself back together again?
Among the many pictures of grandchildren, mementos and keepsakes that grace my Mother’s living room furniture sits a collection of teapots and miniature teacups and saucers. Some were passed down through the family, others marked a birthday or Christmas celebration and one or two were carried lovingly home from Europe.
When the grandchildren were small, we breathed a collective sigh of relief each time a visit ended with nothing broken. We knew to watch for little hands, but ironically, we completely forgot about Alzheimer’s.
Several months ago, when his nurse was still trying to balance his nighttime medication dosage, my Father woke up after midnight to use the restroom. Mom was sound asleep. I happened to hear him shuffling around in the living room, so I grabbed my slippers and quickly rose to the top of the stairs. After using the restroom, Dad got confused and couldn’t find his bedroom, so he plopped down on the edge of the coffee table, breaking Mom’s favorite teacup and saucer. He had no idea what he’d done; he was just trying to get back to bed.
The next day when Mom looked at the broken pieces, she felt sick to her stomach. It wasn’t like the First Lady or the Queen of England had bestowed this upon her as a gift. But it was special nonetheless and she felt its loss. I tried to salvage the keepsake by gluing it back together, but sadly, the saucer was beyond repair.
And this is where many of us lose our footing, when something special in our life breaks into pieces and we don’t know what to do, how to recover, or how to heal and move on.
Caregivers get used to things breaking. In the nine years that I’ve been caring for my Father, a lot of things have been broken. Not just physical things but dreams, plans, relationships, health. I am no expert. But what I’ve found to be most helpful is to take those pieces and lay them before God. I pour out my heart (He knows it anyway, but this is very therapeutic) and surrender it to Him.
Is this hard to do? Sometimes more than others. But the way I see it, my greatest need was for salvation ~ for a mediator to take my punishment for my sins so I could be a daughter of God ~ and this need was already met before the world began. God knew that man would sin, so Jesus has always been God’s plan for redemption.
If preparation for my greatest need was already made before the world began, then God already has a plan for my broken dreams. And His plans are always better.
Last night I picked up Mom’s broken saucer and dug around in my Father’s activity box from Grace Arbor. I mixed some plaster, poured it into a wooden cross and then filled it in with the broken pieces.
No longer is it a saucer. It’s a powerful reminder of how God wants to take our broken pieces and turn them into something beautiful.