Significant moments with children often come at the least expected times, don't they?
It started like any other day for us, with the hustle and bustle of getting ready for preschool. You know the scene... everyone is rushing chaotically through the house just minutes before school is about to start. We should've been in the car 10 minutes ago. And thus, words with one another are short and snappy.
This day was show-and-tell, and Caroline had decided to take in a special doll that her Pop & Mamie gave her from their trip to Israel, Miriam.
Well, leave it to me to send my four year old off to preschool with a porcelain doll.
Yes. You guessed it.
Just after her show-and-tell presentation, dear Miriam fell out of Caroline's lap and face-plummeted onto the floor, shattering her face.
My daughter was devastated. (As you can imagine.) Many tears were shed.
So Daddy, being the knight in shining armor that he naturally is, promised his baby girl that he would do everything in his power to fix Miriam's face again.
That afternoon, poor Miriam underwent some major super-glue surgery and was left on the kitchen table to dry. Surprisingly, Daddy was able to restore her face fairly close to what it had been, with the exception of many cracks running across her delicate features.
Unfortunately, the rest of the day continued on much like the beginning. Caroline accidentally knocked over a favorite coffee cup from Marc's desk, leaving it, too, shattered on the floor in a million tiny pieces. Little aggravating things here and there, compiling and compounding in my four year old's heart, leaving her acting out in anger and tears all day. (Whew. It's days like these that every parent counts down the minutes to bedtime, you know?)
Everything came to a climax that evening when Marc and I decided it would be to Caroline's advantage to not take a family trip to the grocery store as we had planned.
No big deal, right? Well, apparently it was.
You'd have thought the kid was getting tortured from her reaction. It was beyond any meltdown we'd seen from her yet in her life. Unrelenting, shrill screaming like a crazy person out of their mind. (um, which obviously confirmed our decision to help her get to bed earlier...)
There are no words to describe what happens in a parent's heart watching that.
It's beyond heart-breaking.
Marc began running her bath water, and I loaded up Jameson, kissed Marc goodbye, and rushed off to the grocery store. I felt so shaken up as I could hear her muffled screaming even from the other side of the front door. Oh, help us, God! I begged the Lord as I snapped Jameson's carseat into the backseat. Pulling out of the driveway, I couldn't even pick up the phone to call anyone. I didn't feel as if I could form the words.
All I knew to do in that moment was to pray for my little girl.
"God, I don't even know what to do to," I mumbled out loud as I drove down the road. "I feel so helpless. And anxious. And I'm just trying to survive right now. Father, our family needs your grace. And wisdom. And patience. Please use even this MESS of a day to grow my sweet Caroline into a godly little girl. Give Marc the patience and the words that will help her not just to calm down, but to begin maturing her into who You want her to be."
After all that screaming and stress, there's something extremely peaceful about shopping for lunch meat and baby formula in the evening while your infant sleeps blissfully on top of the cart in his carseat.
As I pulled back up to my house and saw Caroline's room light turned off, I knew that was a good sign.
She was asleep. Whew.
I tiptoed up the stairs to the kitchen, and began putting away the groceries while Marc started telling me what had happened in my absence:
During Caroline's full-out fury at bathtime, Marc's own feelings of helplessness started taking over, and he couldn't hold back his own tears.
(Not often do kids see that in their Daddies.)
She suddenly calmed down.
She reached up and hugged him.
She told him she loves him.
They got her dried off, pj's on, and headed to the kitchen to get a bedtime snack. Caroline took one look at little Miriam's cracked face (post "surgery") laying undisturbed on the table, and she started bawling.
"Daddy, I don't know if I can look at Miriam anymore!" she whimpered. I'm sure the sight of Miriam was a painful reminder of something she couldn't ever un-do. (I know that I, for one, don't enjoy staring my mistakes in the face, either.)
"Caroline," Marc said gently as he wrapped his arms around her, "Miriam is still beautiful, even when she's broken.
"Some things get broken and can't ever be fixed. Like Humpty Dumpty, remember? They couldn't put him back together. And like the coffee mug that broke today.
"And some things get broken and can be fixed, but they're never like they were before. Like Miriam and my toy helicopter. When I was little and broke my front teeth, I cried so hard because I wanted my tooth to come back. The dentist fixed it, but it will never be the same."
Eating her snack and thinking, Caroline said "I know-- God can fix Miriam one day!"
(I love how even a broken doll face leaves my daughter longing for the resurrection.)
And then the most amazing statement came out of my daughter as she was going to bed.
"Daddy," she said, "I feel like my heart is just black or something."
Well, alright. Won't be hard convincing my kid of original sin, for she feels it within already.
It was a direct answer to my prayer. After a day of turmoil and chaos, my daughter was seeing her own sin (and admitting it!) more clearly than ever. And naturally, that opened the door for a beautiful Gospel conversation.
"Do you know why you feel that way?" Marc asked her. "Because the Bible says our hearts ARE that way."
She listened quietly.
"My heart is that way, too," Marc continued, "That's why I need Jesus. He gives us new hearts. We can be glad tonight because God is helping you to see what your heart is like. Do you want to pray and ask Jesus to give you a new heart?"
And that's okay.
Because before my little girl can ever truly understand Grace,
she must grapple with her own need of a Savior.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it? -Jeremiah 17:9
Really, Miriam (pictured above) is perhaps a more valuable toy now than she was before her accident.
She can teach my daughter so much more now in her brokenness than when she was literally "all put together."
(The same is probably true for us all, really.)
Like Miriam, we are all broken.
We all carry scars and cracks, some of us more visibly than others.
And like Miriam, our scars and imperfections don't reduce our value or worth like we tend to think they do. If we are living by faith and not by sight, we can adjust our eyes to see the beauty in them.
We can see a bigger Story at play.
We become even more valuable as we experience glimpses of redemption through them. They are places where Jesus comes and fills the cracks. We learn slowly to accept them for the reminders that they are to us: that we need Restoration.
In a big way.
Just as my daughter looks to God to fix Miriam one day, we who are Christians can look at our own brokenness and know without a doubt that one day... He will make ALL things new. We await the day when our hearts will have no more "black" in them and our bodies will be perfectly restored.
But for now, we are cracked vessels like Miriam.
"...we have this treasure in jars of clay..." 2 Corinthians 4:7
We wear scars of
and so many more.
We are broken pieces formed into beautiful messes
that He tenderly calls His own.
I'm so thankful Jesus didn't come for those with all their pieces together. He came for the broken.
"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners..." Mark 2:17
And then, being an even more wonderful Knight in shining armor, Jesus wept. He knew a better way than super-glue to restore us:
To be broken into pieces Himself.
So that we could become whole.
Thanks be to God.
"This is my body, broken for you..." Luke 22:19