It was a tough week for ceramics in our house. It’s summertime so all kids are home all the time which makes the probability of things happening a little higher. The first accident happened in the kitchen with Ephraim. I had worked quite hard to get this Japanese tea set down to Ecuador from the States. I had packed it really well trying to keep it safe, placing it in between thick clothes and puffy supports on all sides. I unpacked each piece carefully and placed it on the bottom shelf in the entry way of our kitchen. I had looked at it a few times and thought to my self, “self, you should probably move this, it is in prime position to get broken”. However, other things got in the way and it never was moved. Last week Ephra was playing with the top of the teapot. I told him please don’t play with that and even thought to myself again “self, you really should move that” and then not 10 seconds later, I hear the crash of little piece and see the top of the teapot in multiple pieces. I immediately yelled period. There is no way to defend it, I yelled. I told him “that is why I told you not to play with it!” (like that makes any type of sense to a 3 year old). He just wanted to play tea party. The immediate shame came as he cried and said “you scared me”. (insert the gulping back tears emoji here). I immediately scooped him up and looked him in the eyes and said “I’m sorry”. Followed by many words of apology including please forgive me, even though saying that felt so futile after I had just yelled at my 3 year old over a tea pot. Sure, did it have significance, yes. Could the list of excuses gone on? Yes. But why? I was wrong, so very wrong and I knew it. Enough to know there were no excuses to be made, just the act of apology, realizing I had nothing to stand on but apologies and forgiveness-asking. It’s one of those that I will remember and tell myself never to do again. It’s a hard lesson to swallow.
The second incident happened a day later when I am in the kitchen again and the 2 older kids were upstairs. I hadn’t finished my cup of coffee (which always happens) because I got pulled in to something or started something else and forgot where the coffee cup was. I had used my special coffee cup, the one with my favorite colors that the kids made me a couple of years ago for Christmas. it’s special and I think of them and smile each time I look at it and drink out of it because they did such a great job in showering me with love. The know I love mugs, orange and yellow, coffee and ceramics. They hit the jackpot of gifts when they made it and I cherished it, loved it as a reminder of how much love there is between us. So when I hear the shrill scream of my daughter and the scolding voice of my sun and then running footsteps and hands grabbing mine to “come, something happened”, it’s a little unnerving. The mug wasn’t on my mind at that point, only the kids. Usually the shrill scream comes with a small scrape or a little blood on the lip or other wounds of childhood play with siblings. But I come up to the living room with the smell of cold coffee and see the shattered remains of the coffee cup the made. There was blaming. There was finger-pointing and unkind words between the kids. The were “awwwws” from my mouth, sounds of disappointment, but really just small twinges of pain over losing something valuable. I try not to hold too many things too close in our lives. Being mobile so often we often don’t have too much of our lives that we hold with us all the time. That’s not a bad thing because those things are just things. But when those things get lost or broken or damaged or consumed by many means, there can still be little twinges of hurt when you lose them. Am I over-dramatizing? Yes, yes. I agree, let’s reign it back in. Why am I even sharing this? This blog is getting a little long to read, right? Bear with me, there is redemption in the end…
I don’t share these because I like sharing my weak moments. No one does. But I realize ALL the time that my weakness are usually the things that bring change, redemption (insert other highly spiritual, holy things here), but mainly they just help me see I’m weak. Life does that, right. So as I reflected on my reactions and apologies and broken pieces, the verse about jars of clay came to mind. I hadn’t really ever studied all that much. I mean, I couldn’t even remember the passage where it is located. But God put it on my heart and I wanted to dive in to see what my weakness would once again teach me ( SO EXCITING RIGHT?!)
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but no in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. -2 Corinthians 4:7-9
Jars of clay are pretty fragile, just like my ceramic mug and Japanese teapot. Why would I look at myself any differently? I sometimes wonder if Jesus just chuckles at us when we try to be like heavy steal drums carrying all our crushed, despairing and abandoned thoughts, when we really just should be holding our fragile, broken piece of our ourselves up to Him apologetically because we were never meant to try to be something we aren’t. We aren’t steal drums, we are jars of clay that although put in the fire to seal it and “make it ceramic”, are still fragile. Guess what? It is OK to be fragile. Take that in. Being fragile or weak is OK to live in to because that is truly what we are. It helps us to keep ourselves in perspective that our fragility is God’s canvas to make Himself known. It’s OK to allow our weaknesses to help us in our journey because it helps us to realize our need for Christ. Without Him, we would just be a plain jar. But with God in us, we can stand.