When you were four years old, playing on the beach, you ran to me. “Mommy! I found some shells!”
I hurried over and looked, expecting to see a few common cockle shells in your hand. I couldn’t believe it. In the flat of your palm was a sand dollar. A tiny thing no bigger than a quarter. Wafer thin and bleached a perfect white.
The surf was rough that day, dashing its offerings on the shore. The little sand dollar should have been reduced to powder, yet it sat perfect in your hand.
I told you what a special and rare find it was, and I tucked it away in my bag so that it wouldn’t be lost or broken. We went on about our day at the beach. I loved watching you and your brothers play. Caleb the fish. Levi the sand-loving landlubber. And you vacillating between the two realms.
When we returned to the condo that afternoon, I tucked your sand dollar in my glasses case thinking that it would keep it safe. But, somehow, during the course of vacation, it slipped out. It fell into my toiletry case, chipping off two pieces from the perfect disk.
I wanted to cry. Okay, maybe I did a little. I intended to protect, but I damaged instead. I felt bad, being the one to break this beautiful little thing you found. And maybe it reveals a little bit of myself that I pretend isn’t there. I struggle with the grief associated with broken things in a broken world.
My sweet butterfly girl, I’m sorry for the broken pieces. The wounds I unintentionally inflict in my misguided attempts to love, protect, and raise you. I won’t purposefully be careless with you. But, I know no matter how hard I try, over the course of life I will cause some of your broken pieces.
Maybe it will be through impatience when I should give you more time to find your own way. Maybe I will miss the weight of a moment that seems insignificant from my perspective, but from your eyes it is world altering. Maybe I’ll stifle something that craves freedom in my longing to keep you under my wings a little too long. Or maybe, I’ll just plain get it wrong.
Baby Girl, please know I never meant to cause those chips. Life’s not always pretty, and it doesn’t always play nice. I wish for all the world I could keep you safe from it all. But I can’t. What’s worse, is knowing that no matter how hard I try, I will inevitably be the cause of some of the pain I attempt to shield you from. Because, I’m a little broken too.
Even though I struggle with embracing my own broken pieces, I also know that broken pieces are important. They are important for you, and they are important for me. They are the place that God works.
I crave whole things and grieve broken things, not because whole is better than broken, but I think because it’s the thing in my spirit that knows that wholeness is how God intended it from the beginning. But sin broke it all, sweet girl. And the earth has been mourning ever since.
Though the earth might mourn, all is not lost. Jesus made a way back. His body was broken so that we could be made whole. There is nothing more beautiful than that brokenness right there.
So, my sweet one, I am sorry for the broken pieces. I’m not a fan. But, we are infinitely more redeemed than we can ever be broken. We just have to ask. And while there maybe some things we have to wait until we are on the other side of heaven to see restored, they will be restored. And there is so much He can do with the brokenness while we are still here.
I plan to make you something with your chipped sand dollar. A little reminder to us both that broken, while not exactly fun, has beauty. Has redemption. Has hope.