I’d like to tell you a story of something that happened to me a while ago. It was nothing uncommon or rare… I was simply cleaning my bathroom, and I broke the jar that held cotton balls.
With the shattering of glass falling silent, I stared at the broken remains of one of my favorite country store finds. I’d been wiping the jar off with a paper towel when everything but the lid slipped from my hands.
As a mom of three, it had been a crazy day already and when that jar hit the counter, flying into a thousand pieces across the tile floor, I couldn’t move. I couldn’t get angry. I couldn’t pick anything up. I just stood there—spent and exhausted—staring at shattered glass. I did what any completely overwhelmed and exhausted mamma might do, I locked the door, sank down on a portion of clean tile and with my cell phone beside me, turned on some music. Yep.
With the kids playing out in the living room, I sat there, unable to do one…more…thing. I couldn’t clean up one more mess. I just put my forehead to my knees and made myself breathe in and out.
This wasn’t going to beat me. But I just needed… a minute or two.
And perhaps it was the writer in me, but I was determined to find purpose in this moment. My favorite jar was gone, and I had to find a positive. It was just that kind of day. I really needed one. So as I stared at the shards upon shards, I thought about how that can be our lives sometimes. It can be our dreams. All our fragile hopes, shaped and molded so carefully, this little vessel that we polish and tend to yet in the blink of an eye, it can absolutely cease to be. Gone. Just like that. Right through our fingers.
I’ll tell you now that I wrote the above portion of this post months ago and never finished. I didn’t see the end, but something had me write those words down. I’d like to finish them now…
That jar I was talking about? It’s long gone. It’s in the same place as a few dreams of mine. Maybe you have a few dreams there too. But you know what? I still have the lid. It’s a small consolation, but I kept it on purpose. I see it on my dresser and it’s hope. It’s the reminder that even though life may change, new purposes can lie just around the corner. Plan B can be just around the corner.
I’ve had to discover a new purpose over the last several years as an author. I’ve had to discover my plan B and I wish I could say that it’s been easy, but it hasn’t. Part of me really wants to turn this post into a devotional. Some way you can apply it to your life, but all I can think of is the rest of the tale. My prayer is that living within it will be a dose of encouragement for you.
Over the last two…almost three years that shattered glass has symbolized to me my publishing career. This thing that I loved and strived for and tended to. That thing? It was gone. Just like that. And I had to sit down amidst the shattered glass and I had to take deep breaths. I cry as I write this, friends, because it’s an ache that doesn’t fade. But do you know what we can do in moments like those? We can stand up. We can brush ourselves off. And we can trust that the glass shattered because there’s meant to be another way. And that way is going to start with a journey of trust.
So I keep the lid — the piece that held on — as a reminder of that day when not everything broke. As a reminder that it’s why we get up and it’s why we keep going. My get-up-and-keep-going has been self publishing. It’s an amazing and exhausting, exciting and insanely intimidating road, but it’s the one that God has me walking down right now.
In two and a half weeks, I’ll be flying to Florida along with my mom. She’s going to be my date for the Christy awards. I have something-lovely to wear and she does too. “This Quiet Sky” is a finalist in the Young Adult category. They tell me it’s made history. I’m still coming to grips with this. That something so good could come from shattered glass. Oh how these tears still fall as I really pause to look at that.
To lace the moments together like beads on string and call it life. That the different pieces of it don’t often look the way we planned but it’s ours anyway. Today I’m thanking God for lessons that I might have missed had my life and my writing career gone as smoothly as I’d once hoped. Today I’m thanking God for brokenness and shattered glass because He shows…He shows…that good things can come of it.