Picking up the Pieces: 4 Thoughts About Personal Brokenness

Have you ever said, “What just happened?” Me too.

Last winter, I had one of “those” mornings. As I’m leaving for the day, I’m doing my best to be careful pulling my car out of the garage and I destroyed my driver’s-side mirror.

I remember being physically exhausted.  My mind was wide awake saying “You’re too close. Adjust the wheel” but the rest of me wasn’t responding. It was this slow-motion moment as I my car and garage met leaving a trail of my mirror all the way down my driveway. I put my car in park and just sat there in disbelief at what transpired.

[Enter joke about “objects in mirror are closer than they appear.”]

I was in shock. I’ve pulled out of the garage hundreds of times and have never had that happen. A simple daily moment turned into disaster. I got out of the car and walked back toward the house picking up the shattered fragments of what used to be attached to my car. I stuck the broken mirror casing back onto my car thinking I can still used it as it still had a chunk of mirror left on it. (I know, ridiculous isn’t it?)

When I got to my coffice (coffeehouse + office), I did some quick research and hit up Amazon Prime to get a new mirror in the matter of a few days.  And sure enough it was there by Wednesday. So I set it by the door so to motivate me and, yet, it sat there for a few months.

For the next week, I found myself continuing to pick up the pieces of something I thought I was done cleaning up. As the snow melted, more pieces were revealed. I was astonished at how far the damage was spread from the point of impact. Even early this fall, while cutting my lawn, I found a large piece. I remember thinking to myself, “I thought I was done with this? How is it that I’m still dealing with this after all of this time?

While you may not have destroyed your mirror, I think many of you can relate to my “Monday moment.” Has anything ever impacted you and has left you feeling like:

  • You keep picking up the pieces of something that has happened to you. 
  • You didn’t anticipate at how far the damage was spread.
  • You’re just living life, and something happens that makes you say,I thought I was done with this? How is it that I’m still dealing with this after all of this time?

Me too. I get it. And I thought I’d share some lessons I learned.

My crazy schedule gave me every excuse to NOT fix the mirror. Sometimes busyness will sedate issues and distract you from dealing with things. Just because you no longer feel momentary pain doesn’t mean the issue is completely healed. Busyness is something I’ve learned to hide behind as it’s my drug of choice. If I can stay busy, then I don’t have to deal with it. But the more I put off the issue, the deeper the issue sets in me. Which leads to…

I learned to live with my brokenness. There was a fraction of mirror left in the casing and I got used to using it. I’ll admit I cut off a few people in traffic after not seeing them. But on the most part, I thought I was having “success” in accommodating to living with a “broken vision” of what things around me.  And the more I got used to it, the motivation for getting it fixed has waned. “I’ll deal with it another time” became my primary way to procrastinate dealing with this.

I needed to access what was provided. The new mirror was there and ready for installment. I waked by it every day. I’d even think to myself, “someday I’ll get it fixed…someday things will be back to normal.” What I find often in my life is a propensity to deal with things on my own instead of accessing what has been provided in Christ. I don’t think we have a lack of God wanting to move in our lives. I think we have a lack of us accessing what He has provided in Jesus.  It’s almost overwhelming how much access to healing, peace, love, and joy we have. Yet, quite often, we attempt to deal with things on our own. We need to access what God provides. 

Allow God to work through others. I’ll admit it was pride keeping me from asking for help. “I can do this” was my mantra. It was a friend (love ya Kevin) that came over for another purpose who looked and said “Let me help.” Kevin did in a few minutes what I thought was going to be a longer and harder process. It took someone with kindness and experience to help me in my point of need and walk me through how to move forward. But the key: I needed to allow him to help. Please don’t allow your pride to stop you from asking for AND accepting help.  Allow those with the kindness and experience to meet you in your point of brokenness. 

Is this you? Has something happened that makes you seem like you’re still picking up the pieces? I get it. And my “getting it” goes far beyond a stupid car mirror. I understand what it’s like to sedate my pain with something else. I get thinking I have to live with what happened feeling like I’m damned to living this way for the rest of my life.

But explore you: Don’t let a broken moment dictate the rest of your destiny.  Your life is worth more, your marriage is worth more, and your children are worth more than that impact has dealt you. Access the abundant available in Christ. I’m not promising a one-time-fix-all moment but daily access to the peace, joy, love, and healing you’ve been looking for.

Have I finished picking up pieces from that impact. I hope so. But each time I find another piece, I don’t remember how much I’ve lost but I embrace how far God has brought me.

Love you all. I’m praying for you today.

Rearview Mirrors: 3 Simple Steps to Keep Your Marriage Looking Forward

“…But one thing I do:forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

Being a dad of a 16-year-old, I have a lot talks about using the car. In fact, I’m trying to get Cammi used to my car instead of Anne’s. It’s a bit longer and a little more of a challenge to deal with. And if she’ll get used to it, it’ll prepare her to be a better driver. 

But after she backed over my mailbox, I’ve come to realize we’ve still got some work to do. She was trying to focus on her rearview mirror and got confused. Even though she was backing up, if she’d just look in front of her, she’d see how straight (or lack-thereof) the car was. 

In a car, a windshield is ginormous in comparison to the rearview mirror. The mirror is there to assist you and not be the focal point. What’s the focal point? It’s this huge piece of safety glass in front of us called a windshield. Our eyes are to be looking forward only to access the mirror for moments of clarity.

The past is a like a rearview mirror: Give it a glance and keep going forward. Too much focus on it has catastrophic results. Unfortunately, too many couples (even singles) struggle with this. You’ve got a “windshield” to experience the present and move forward into the future. But because of some challenging seasons you’ve went through, you continue focus upon the past.  It’s then you get caught up staring and don’t realize that living in the past sacrifices the present and mortgages the future. 

How do you keep looking forward? It’s in the simplicity of what I’ve been encouraging our congregation to do every week through our marriage series, Mosaic Marriage.

1 – Encourage Effort. Encouraging effort keeps your eyes looking forward. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, should out encourage you when it comes to your spouse. For some reason, we only encourage “successes” and not effort. And what ends up happening is, because “success” is based upon individual’s interpretation, encouragement is used very sparingly between couples. From the small moments to the large steps forward, don’t wait for results to be encouraging, cheer on the attempts move forward.  I’d rather have someone who’s failing in their efforts than failing to make ANY effort. Keep looking and moving forward by encouraging your spouse.  

2 – Celebrate Progress. Celebration is largely underestimated. Couples tend to only celibate weightier progress or large steps of progress. But can I present a thought to you? Progress, big or small, is still PROGRESS. When I was doing Weight Watchers 10 years ago, I learned that whether I lost 7 lbs. or 1 oz., it was all progress. And ANY progress is to be celebrated. Progress helps develop momentum.  It’s that momentum that helps develop the strength to move forward. Want some marriage momentum? Big  or small, celebrate progress.

3 – Feed Hope. This is how you keep your eyes looking forward. Hope fixes your focus. Like it or not, if you are not feeding “hope,” you’re feeding something else. Take your pick, despair, anger, resentment, cynicism, etc. all are bottom feeders that will find sustenance off of hopelessness.  My simple, and practical approach: Cut off what is stifling the flames.  Push past the feelings of hopelessness and foster an atmosphere of hope. Purpose in your heart that hope is just as valuable to your marriage as breathing is to your body. And the more you feed hope, the more life you breathe into the lungs of your marriage. 

Today, give the past a glance and only a glance. It’s there to assist you and not be our focus. 

Encourage Effort.
Celebrate Progress.
Feed Hope.

And remember…

The power of the past is the permission you give it to influence the present!

 

Thanks for letting me ramble…

7 Years of Bad Luck

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I’m backing out of my garage today. I am going out with my family on my day off.  There’s a reason why Anne warns me, every Friday, about the trash can.  You see, Friday is “trash day” and, one morning, she was taking Cammi to the bus stop and forgot about the trash can.

The result: Broken mirror.
photo

For some reason, her weekly warning got me thinking…

According to mirrorhistory.com, it was the Romans who are tagged to the broken mirror as a sign of seven years bad luck. The length of the prescribed misfortune came from the ancient Roman belief that it took seven years for life to renew itself. If the persons looking into the mirror were not of good health, their image would break the mirror and the run of bad luck would continue for the period of seven years, at the end of which their life would be renewed, their body would be physically rejuvenated, and the curse would be ended.

In old times, mirrors were not cheap and they were low quality and easily damaged. In order to avoid negligence it was told that breaking a mirror bring seven years of bad luck. That was simple scare tactic to protect such a valuable investment.

Marriage, like mirrors of old, is extremely valuable.  Unlike those mirrors, marriage is not of low quality.  If it’s well taken care of, marriage is not easily damaged.

TRUTH: A broken marriage doesn’t give 7 years of bad luck. It give years of brokeness in two individuals meant to act as one. 

Questions began to form in my head…

Have we lost the care and concern of strengthening our marriage?

Do we take the covenant with our spouse for granted?

What image do we reflect to the world, specifically our children?

Props to Marriage Works (@mrgwrks) for sending out the tweet “Marriage, perhaps more than any other relationship, reveals your willingness & ability to love unconditionally.”  I thought I’d change a word  and give ya a great TRUTH.

TRUTH: It’s in marriage, perhaps more than any other relationship, REFLECTS your willingness & ability to love unconditionally.  

Your marriage gives a display of unconditional love.  It’s one of the reasons why, I believe, marriage is a phenomenal picture of God.  Even in Genesis, we see God making man in His own image.  Was the image of God so complex that man and woman, together in their oneness, reflect the image of God?  When God saw man and said, “it’s not good that man should be alone,” it was more than filling man’s loneliness.  It was competing the reflection/image.

It is in this “reflection,” the world around us SHOULD see the willingness and ability to love unconditionally.  It’s the way God loves.  In Him, we see His willingness  in while we were in our sin, He gave his only Son. In Him, we see His ability, by Christ laying down his own son for your and me.  The “reflection” to be a clear image of the same unconditional love you and I receive.

Do you need to repair the image? Have you displayed a clear reflection of having the ability and willingness to show unconditional love?

“But Dave, they don’t deserve it.”

My answer: “Neither do you.”

Who of all of us deserve it?  Yet instead of reflecting His love, we love based upon conditional elements determined by our feelings and desires.

According to snopes.com there are ways to repair the “bad luck” caused by breaking a mirror.  I thought we can use that to help us today.

1. Throw salt over your shoulder. I can’t say that will fix “conditional love” in marriage.  But salt represents a changing agent.  In ancient times, it was used to do more than flavor food.  It was a preservative and antiseptic.  Don’t wait for your spouse to step up and unconditionally love first. You be the changing agent, or the salt, of the marriage.  Step up and be the one to add flavor. Be the one to fight for the “reflection” to be preserved.

2. Immediately spin around counter-clockwise three times.  Whatever ways that haven’t been working, turn around the other way.  The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over again.  If you’re having difficulty loving unconditionally, stop repeating the same actions.  Stop attempting the same things over and over. Spin around and go a different direction.  Show your spouse your creativity and willingness to try something new in order to repair the broken image.

3. Grind the mirror into fine powder.  Just as much as humility and repentance are important to our relationship with Christ, it’s just as essential in our marriage. If you have pride issues, grind that pride down.  Let your humbly reflect the unconditional love your spouse needs to see.

4.  Gather the pieces of the mirror and submerge them in water running south.  If there is brokenness from selfishness and pride, take the pieces to Christ.  Submerge them in His presence.  Let Him repair His image in your lives.  As I’m typing this blog, this song from one of my favorite bands came on:

5. Bury the broken pieces.  When I read this, I thought of forgiveness. Maybe you are a casualty of a marriage where the reflection of unconditional love has been shattered by your spouse.  My challenge is to forgive the unconditional way the Christ has forgiven you.

Your marriage WILL give a reflection of love. You don’t have that choice.  It’s your choice of what type of love it will reflect.  If you discovered a broken image, take the initiative to start the year with the right mindset. Resolve in your heart to reflect His love in you.

Thanks for letting me ramble…