The Lesson of the Broken Bottle


So, I had a broken kind of a week.

No new drama or crisis hit. It was one of those weeks where I lost sight of the bigger picture – or, actually, of my good good Father who lovingly crafts the bigger picture.  So I stopped trusting and pulled some “stuff” that has been coming on strong against me for a while out of God’s hands placing it squarely and only on my own shoulders – and it began to crush me.

And I allowed it all to almost push me to the edge…. Quite literally to the edge – actually. I’ve been open with my story and history of depression and thoughts of suicide. Let me just be real transparent and say there are moments in my life I need to stay away from large metro areas with really tall building. No worries. You don’t have to call 911 and put me on a watch or anything. When I crawled out of bed long enough to drive into the city earlier this week, my Good Father made certain that both buildings I had in mind had more secure access to their balconies than I had recalled. And I am well past the crisis point now. But – wow – was I ever a broken human! And trying to not to look broken in front of everyone I’m trying to be strong for shattered me even further. 

But now…. even though I’m past the most broken point of the week – I was still struggling this morning with quite a bit of shame and remorse about how I acted within that moment – even lashing out at those trying to help.

And I felt that my broken moment somehow diminished God’s glory in my life and His ability to use me. But then, as I was walking through the master bathroom this morning, I knocked the beautiful little bottle of fragrant oil you see in the picture off the side of the tub. The neck of the pretty antique bottle broke and it’s “head” rolled to the floor. (Thankfully, I am rather skilled at Super Glue repairs so I think I can fix it).

But even if I can’t repair the bottle – the lesson is priceless. I heard Holy Spirit whisper to my heart, “Tracy, does the brokenness of the bottle change the fragrance of what’s inside it?” 

I thought, “No, I actually can smell the fragrance now.” 

“Exactly!”

The brokenness of the vessel doesn’t change or lessen the power of the fragrance inside. The brokenness releases the fragrance to anyone who is near the broken vessel.

This timely little object lesson was a much needed reminder that:

Our brokenness does not diminish God’s ability to use us. Once we release our brokenness to Him, it deepens His ability to use us and further spreads His healing presence to the other broken ones.

It’s really not about us anyway. It’s about WHO we carry.

“Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life.” -2 Corinthians‬ ‭2:15-16‬a MSG (The Message Paraphrase)

Transparently yours so brokenness can grow us,

The Gift of Tears

God collects the tears of the hurting (see Psalm 56:8) and weeps with those who weep (see John 11:33-35). And nothing is quite as beautiful as when His people do the same….. very rare and completely counter-cultural in a society that avoids pain and idolizes comfort…. but beautiful. May we have our #FathersHeart toward the hurting. Sometimes it is OK to weep with them and be present in their pain rather than sing the same old #PressOnAndBeStrong song.

Never Too Late to Get Back On Track

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Precious In His Sight

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Because of my faithful God, some sweet friends and mentors, and my Amazing Church family speaking into my life – I am beginning to see that the parts of my story I used to view as curse, can actually become a blessing to others when shared from the viewpoint of God’s relentless grace.    So this was written for and performed as Spoken Word poetry at Christmas With The Arts this year.  I thought I would share it here, too, just in case some piece of my story helps you see God at work in your story.

PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT

Children…. Music…. Memories….
So many beautiful things about this season
And some funny things too
Like the things we do – songs we sing
Without really knowing what they mean
Like the profound mystery
Of what really is in that fruitcake we eat
Then there’s Rudolph – nose shining brightly
What are those games the other reindeer play?
Basketball, soccer, Monopoly??

But it’s not just Christmas songs perplexing me
Other songs, too – church songs even
I’ve basically been in church
From the moment I was breathing
“Red and yellow black and white 
They are precious in His sight”
You’ve heard that one – Right?
Strange as it seems
Understanding those words
for me has been a lifelong plight
The words didn’t match up with what was in my sight

In my Sunday school to my left… my right
What I saw was white, white, white
And yes more white
Something didn’t seem quite right
But I was young – perhaps didn’t understand
Just ’cause we’re all precious to God
Maybe it doesn’t mean we live
And worship on the same the same block??
But there wasn’t time to figure that out
‘Cause getting ready for kindergarten
That’s what I was all about
I loved to learn, already starting to read
Figured – just like home and church
School kids would love on me

So on that first day dressed in the very best
My sisters handed down to me
I skipped across the playground
Excited about the friends I would meet
But things played out a little differently
You see, I experienced a facial injury
When I was maybe 2 or 3
Had severe deformities
Of my mouth and teeth
Only close friends and family
Could understand when I would speak
So my dreams of new friends were shattered
As laughter began to shriek

And relentless bullying was there to stay
From k5 to high school graduation day
Thankfully, home and church
Provided a safe place respite from the hurt
But even knowing Jesus – the pain remained
As kids laughed, mocked, even spit in my face
And I suffered oh so silently
Not a word to church, teacher, family
After all… didn’t Sunday school songs say
Christians should be happy -“Turn the other way”?

So in about second grade
We moved to a larger town
Where faces as white as mine
Were no longer the only ones around
And in a diverse community
Now – up close – I could really see
That all (“red, yellow, black, and white”)
Are truly precious in God’s sight
Well, all “others” anyway – is what I believed
I still had a “blind side” when it came to me

As time went along things appeared fine
At least —-              on the outside
With help of intense orthodontistry
And quite a few years of speech therapy
I looked and sounded almost like a normal teen
But there was that pain…. Deep and unseen
Saturating every part of my reality
“Blending in” didn’t stop the bullying
I still thought I was worthless
And attracted what I believed
I still sang “Red, Yellow, Black, and White”
But didn’t feel precious in anybody’s sight

Fast forward to adulthood
For a while everything looked quite alright
Education, great career, & husband in my life
But behind the door of my heart – closed tight
Remained so much pain  – so much strife
As I worked hard to feel loved and get it all right
But expecting anyone or anything
To complete me besides God
Blocked me from receiving & giving out
His perfect love

While smiling on the outside
I suffered silently
Depression – thoughts of suicide
Sad old friends who wouldn’t leave
I was beginning to think
That maybe church and God
Were really just a cruel and senseless façade
So my “church hop” progressed to not going at all
Or watching “mega church” from my comfy couch
But my Sunday school upbringing
Still called out to me
So I had to go back to church
– For Easter at least

So a couple years back in the spring we received
An invite to what is now this Amazing thing
I looked around –could almost see
That song I used to sing
“Red and Yellow, Black and White”
We’d found a loving family with big vision in sight
That reflecting our city’s diversity
Is the true heartbeat Christ

But as for me…  “Precious in His Sight”
I still struggled with that lyric
I sang the words but for me… I really couldn’t hear it
The brokenness and pain
I worked lifelong to keep hidden
Were now rising to the surface
Becoming visible – unbidden

But even when I could no longer hide my mess
These amazing people stood by me
Continuing to bless
And I learned ‘though heaven-bound
I wasn’t really free
‘Til I experienced – not just sang of –
God’s amazing love for me
And as with this church I began to do LIFE
“Restoring Hope & Loving People”
Became more than just words for (one day)
Our building’s sign

Because  I stand here restored
And loved back to life
No pretense of perfection
Scars revealed only to be healed
So today… today…  I look around and see
Much more than Red and Yellow, Black and White
They…. No we… TOGETHER 
Are so precious in His site
and now…. that Sunday school song –
I finally understand it right
Thank you, my Amazing God,
   We ARE precious in Your sight.

 

 

What was Your Favorite Gift This Season?

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“God, my heart is steady. I will sing and praise You with all my being.” – Psalm 108:1

For me, my favorite gift of this season – of this year – was nothing tangible. (Although it is represented by a cute little necklace I found at the hospital gift shop where I work).

I’ve seen a post flying around Facebook asking people to describe their 2015 in one word. Well, I’m a writer… so it is difficult for me to even say “Hello” in one word. (And since Adelle and Lionel Ritchie both needed an entire sing to say “Hello”, I really don’t feel bad about that). So I will use two words to describe my 2015… and they also describe my favorite Christmas gift this year:  “Growth” and “Grounding”.

The word “growth” speaks for itself I’ve been stretched and challenged and changed this year like never before. And I needed to be stretched and challenged and changed!  I feel like I’ve lived most of my 40-something years sleepwalking through life and now I’m fully awake and loving it.

But the word “grounding” may need a little additional explanation. I’m not referring to the grounding of being sent to your room as a kid or getting the car taken away as a punishment.  Rather, I’m referring to the process of becoming grounded and centered in the peace of God in such a way that I am no longer pushed over by the strong winds of the messiness of life or situations. Rather, I now bring the strength and the peace of God into those situations.

Although some situations in my life look the same as they have for years, thanks to the faithful leading of my Amazing God and the people He’s surrounded me with to help me grow, I am facing everything with a strength and unwavering deep-down peace like I’ve never known before.  This is the first Christmas season in years that I have actually enjoyed rather than endured through a fog of depression. And that, my friends, is a beautiful gift!

Wishing you Peace that passes all understanding,

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