Christianity · grace · Uncategorized

Broken Pieces

The Grand Strand 

I recently had a nice trip to North Myrtle Beach with some good friends. I grew up coming here to the Grand Strand before it was covered with high rise condos, and I love the wide beach and swimming in the waves of the Atlantic.

This stretch of beach is not the best for shelling, however. By the time the shells have landed on the hard sand, they are broken in pieces and line the beach as the waves bring them in. Finding a whole shell is pretty rare.

As we walked along the beach, I thought about how the shells are like so many people I know who have been broken by the pounding of life. Divorce, addiction, depression, deaths of loved ones, job loss, mental and physical illness, and the day to day wear and tear of life crush us down. We become like the shells on the shore, with parts of us cracked and torn.

Sometimes other people’s brokenness can cause us pain, as when I step on a jagged shell.

But God in His infinite grace restores our broken edges. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 34:18:

The Lord is close to the broken-hearted

And saves those who are crushed in spirit.

If you are feeling broken today, remember that God is extra close, that He loves you and wants to see you whole again. Our hard times change us, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We can be like the sea glass that sometimes washes up on shore, with its edges soft from the constant tumbling on the ocean floor. Instead of jagged edges that hurt both ourselves and others, we can become something beautiful that can be used by God.

death of dog · grace · Running · Uncategorized

Grace shows up: a drama

Grace shows up: a drama

Cast of characters:

Me, enjoying a midweek run on a sunny evening

Ashley,  a senior in high school, on her way to youth group at her church

Junior, a white terrier dog, sitting on his front porch, watching for anyone passing his house

Act I

The three of us converge in front of Junior’s house at the exact same time. 

Me, slowly jogging, thinking about my tired legs 

Ashley, driving to church, thinking about – ? – her boyfriend, her math class, what to wear to school tomorrow?

Junior, sprinting toward the road,  thinking only about getting that person running in front of his house

In a flash – white car, white dog, a thud, a yelp, Junior in a heap by the side of the road

 

Why wasn’t I looking, why didn’t I stop him, what to do, what to do??

Me, banging on the door of the house, “Your dog has been hit!” no one home

Ashley, on the grass next to Junior, in tears

Junior, head at a strange angle, eyes glazed, breath barely

Me, running home for my car

Ashley crying, calling her mom

Junior, not moving

Act II

A new character, Anthony, Junior’s owner, found at his parents’ house

Anthony is in a wheelchair

Me, “I’m so sorry, but there has been an accident with your dog.”

Anthony, body slumping in chair, “Ever since he took up with that girl dog, seems like it gets on his nerves for anyone to go by the house.”


Act III

Another character, God’s Grace, enters

Back at Anthony’s house

Me, feeling guilty, especially because Anthony is in a wheelchair

Ashley, apologizing with tears

Junior, chasing runners in heaven

Anthony, standing up to hug Mary, offering to pay to have her bumper fixed, saying accidents happen, dignified and resigned

Grace, quietly filling the yard in the sadness


 

aging · grace · Uncategorized

Covering Up

We’re all hiding something.

I have been thinking about this ever since our tree man was out a few weeks ago to take away yet another of our big old trees, this one a giant walnut that was uprooted during a bad storm.

“That big walnut came down because it was weak on the inside,” he informed us, and sure enough, when I walked around to the other side, I could see where lightning had hollowed it out many years ago. All this time it has been standing, growing, producing walnuts, giving us shade, and providing a home for squirrels and woodpeckers, but was dying on the inside. I didn’t know.

The more I talk to people, the more I have decided everyone has something not right in their life that they are hiding. Even the happiest, most full of life people have heartaches and problems that they don’t want others to know about. Just like that tree, most of us try to look good on the outside while dealing with rot that threatens to take us down.

I have a physical deformity that I try to keep under wraps. My left foot has slowly become misshapen over the years with a bunion that extends way out to resemble the coast of North Carolina, while my second toe subsequently juts up into the air and then crosses over my big toe. It’s pretty scary looking, and I do my best to keep others from seeing it. 

People have asked me why I don’t get it operated on, but I have been twice to a very handsome orthopedic foot doctor who told me that if it was not hurting to leave it alone, because if he operated it would be stiff and I would not be able to run. As long as I wear my cute little Skechers or my running shoes with the mesh top or my sandals with the huge flowers, my foot feels fine and and doesn’t bother me.  After all, what’s a goofy looking foot in the great scheme of things?

Every now and then, however, it becomes a problem, like when I need to get dressed up. Recently I was going to a very fancy wedding and bought a beautiful new dress, so I needed to buy dress shoes to go with it. Ugh! 

After looking all over the mall with no success, I went to a gargantuan shoe store that seemed to stretch for a mile. Surely they would have something I could wear that wouldn’t look like my grandmother’s orthopedic shoes. I felt like Cinderella’s stepsister as I tried to squeeze my weird foot into pair after pair of heels.  I finally found some that were pretty stylish and that I thought I could wear at least for a few hours without too much pain. And all this because I want to cover up my ugly foot!

Wearing my fancy dress and new shoes!

My messed up foot symbolizes this whole issue of keeping our problems hidden. When I look at it I am reminded of my imperfections, which are a part of me as much as my foot. As I have gotten to this phase of my life, I am realizing that, like my foot, I can’t do much to change many of the issues in my life other than to work on my attitude. And working on my attitude means lots of prayer, over and over. But it also means sometimes letting others see those parts of me that I usually keep covered up, and through God’s grace, finding that my problems seem smaller when shared.


Most of us have known someone who falls, like our walnut tree, and then everyone says, “We didn’t know there was a problem!”  That is a tragedy. Knowing how much I appreciate other people giving me the gift of grace and understanding, I  try every day to be sensitive to those around me and to remember to be kind, because everyone we meet is fighting a hard battle.