So, for those broken places in you, and in me, here's a story that has made a difference in how I deal with the brokenness …
It happened like this:
“Jayna!” I roared the name of my three-year-old daughter and glared at the cabinet door that sat mangled on the carpet in front of me. “Get in here!”
Jayna came running.
I stabbed my finger at the broken door. “Did you do that?” It was a good guess that Jayna was the culprit, even though she had four other siblings. Of the all the things broken in the house, Jayna had caused 95% of them. We didn’t call her ‘little monkey’ for nothing. So, when something turned up broken, Jayna was the first one I called.
Except this time, she didn’t hide her face and pretend she didn’t understand. This time, she looked at me with wide, innocent eyes and said, “Bet-a-nee break it.”
I frowned. “Are you sure?” It had been a long time since Jayna’s nine-year-old sister had done anything like break a cabinet door.
Jayna smiled. “Yes. Bet-a-nee do it.”
I picked up the broken door and walked into the other room where Bethany was practicing piano. “Do you know how this got broken?” I waved the piece in her direction.
She paused, then shrugged. “I dunno.”
“Did you do it?” Doubt edged my voice.
She plunked her fingers down on the piano keys and shook her head. “No.”
I shifted the door into my other hand.
Her face turned red. Then, she started to bawl. “Yes, I did it. I did it,” she hollered. Between sobs, she told about how she sat on the door just like we'd told her not to do, and it broke, and she lied, and, and, and . . . and she didn't want to get in trouble. Waaaa....
About three minutes into her big confession, I was trying to not grin. Not because I was happy that the door was broken, but because I was starting to see all the great lessons I could help Bethany glean from this one incident, lessons that would be essential for her to learn, especially as she drew closer to her teen years.
So, once the sobbing subsided, Bethany and I settled in for a good talk. We discussed how Mommy and Daddy are wise. It's best to do what they say. And if you fail to obey and do something stupid, it's best to fess up right away. Otherwise you end up carrying your mistake around with you. Then, we talked about how it’s better to repent fast. Don't make excuses. Just say, “I did something dumb. I know you said not to, but I did it anyway, and I'm really sorry.” Next, we covered how lying is worse than the original offense. Sitting on the cabinet door may cause broken furniture, but lying causes brokenness inside. And that's a lot harder to fix. But if you do let a lie slip out, fix it with the truth right away. The longer the lie sits inside you, the more damage it does. A lie is like giving yourself a cut. The longer it festers without the medicine of the truth, the sicker it makes you. And finally, if you lie, someone else may get in trouble for what you did, and that's not fair.
By the time we were finished, I began to wonder if God had allowed that door to break just to give me the chance to teach Bethany the rich, character-forming lessons that would help her navigate her future. And of course that got me thinking about the "broken doors" in my life. Perhaps some things in my life had fallen apart so I could learn valuable life lessons too. Maybe instead of shifting the blame and trying to deny my mistakes, I needed to see them as an opportunity to change, learn, and grow.
After all, Hebrews 12:6-7 (NIV) says, “the Lord disciplines those he loves . . . Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.” In other words, perhaps God allows hard things in my life so I can learn the same lessons as Bethany. God is wise. It's best to do what He says. If I fail, go to Him quickly in prayer and say, "I messed up!" Don't make excuses. Don't lie - not to others, and not to myself. Embrace the truth even when it's hard to hear and accept.
And most of all, how I react to the broken parts of my life matters not only to me, but to others, especially those I love. What I say and do, my character, matters not just to me and God, but to them too.
So maybe, just maybe, it’s time I complain less about the broken doors of life and instead look for the ways God can make me whole through them.