From life's broken pieces, a truer beauty may shine
Life breaks. But apparently God is never closer than when we are sweeping up the pieces of our shattered humanity, wondering what to do next, Jodi Detrick observes.
Special to The Seattle Times
Earlier this month, Don and I were celebrating our 38th anniversary, so I slipped a very special gift around my neck before we headed out to dinner. The lovely glass pendant necklace with its varying hues of purple and silver seemed just right for the occasion. And although this piece of jewelry was a gift my husband passed along to me, it didn't originate with him. Throughout our evening together, I found myself touching the pendant's smooth surface and thinking about the backstory behind this necklace, one that makes it all the more beautiful.
Don, who is a minister and a leader in our denomination, also serves as an adjunct professor at an excellent academic institution in our area, Northwest University in Kirkland. Not long ago, he was teaching a night class made up mostly of adults finishing their undergraduate degrees, and he often remarked about the wonderful group of students he had. I had to agree, especially when one of the women in Don's class brought a gift for all her fellow students, along with one for the professor's wife — me. As she passed out the gorgeous glass pendant necklaces, Joan explained that they were the handmade artistry of her 28-year-old daughter, Kelsea. Kelsea has her own story, but more about that in a minute.
When Don sent a note to the young jewelry maker, thanking her for the thoughtful gifts to his students and his wife, he received this moving reply (shared here with permission) from Kelsea:
You are very welcome. I am glad your wife likes the pendant.
I enjoy creating beautiful glass pendants from broken shards. My dad blows glass and he makes large bowls, vases, and platters. Many times the large pieces crack or break; they fall on the floor and end up in the garbage. I glean these broken shards from the floor of the hot shop and then cut and shape them into unique designs and shapes for jewelry. I put them in my kiln and fire them for about 12 hours. It's always exciting to open the kiln in the morning and see the beautiful results.
I think you might do something similar in your ministry but you do it with people. You help Jesus take the broken pieces of people's lives and make them into something beautiful.
We might be broken but with Jesus, we can be beautiful ... beautifully broken. Thank you for your nice note.
Love, KelseaI swallowed hard and blinked back a tear when I read that because in many ways, Kelsea's words have captured the heart of the gospel — which means "good news."
Who among us hasn't watched in disbelief and sadness when something or someone in our lives became broken beyond repair? Dreams can become dust, companionship can turn to cruelty. The things we work so hard on — a marriage, being a good parent, having a great career, maintaining our health, making a difference in this world — can seem to shatter, leaving us with shards of disappointment and cynicism.
That's why David's words in Psalm 34:18 (New International Version) mean so much:
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Life breaks. But apparently God is never closer than when we are sweeping up the pieces of our shattered humanity, wondering what to do next.
It is faith of the most stunning variety to put what is left into the hands of Jesus, remembering what He said just before He went to the cross, "This is my body which is broken for you." More times than I can say, I've watched the beautifully broken One transform what seemed a total loss into a redesigned treasure. Things may not look like we'd originally hoped for, but somehow they shine with more meaning, and glisten with a truer beauty than before they were broken.
Kelsea knows a little about brokenness. On her jewelry Facebook page, seati.ms/LCo0jh, she writes:
I decided many years ago to focus on what I can do rather than what I can't. I have spina bifida, a handicap that keeps me from driving a car, running a race, or even standing for more than a few seconds. I can, however, swim like a fish, ski (with the right equipment) and make beautiful handmade glass jewelry.
Kelsea has lived as both the artist and the art in her own, beautifully broken story. She shows us what it looks like to courageously gather fragments of pain and shards of disappointment while trusting the Master Artisan to have a breathtaking design in mind all along, even if it means going through hot fires of adversity. She believes something magnificent will come out in the morning.
She's so right. Even though we've never met, I would say Kelsea is a sparkling jewel. And much like her lovely pendants, the beauty makes you forget the brokenness.
Jodi Detrick is a minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God). She is also a public speaker, an author and a life coach. Readers may send feedback to email@example.com