Last year, I experienced a great deal of newfound freedom in one particular area of my life. During that time, I happened upon a ceramic travel coffee mug that, to me, represented visually that area of freedom. So, I bought it as a celebration of what God had done.
Three weeks later, the ceramic travel coffee mug was just sitting there on the counter next to the sink, minding its own business, next to a couple of other dirty dishes, and I swept it aside just a bit to make room in my tiny kitchen to pour a glass of milk. It fell over and broke.
I was pretty sad about it. When it fell, I didn’t even curse – I was too sad to curse – and I always curse. It felt significant to me. More than just a ceramic travel coffee mug; it represented freedom and life and progress and celebration to me.
Plus, it took me a couple of days to convince the superstitious voice in my brain that that didn’t, couldn’t, mustn’t mean that God had not been giving me freedom in that area, or that it didn’t, couldn’t, mustn’t mean that God wanted to take back the freedom in that area. I know that may sound silly, but when you have spent years in bondage and then you find a measure of freedom and then you indulge yourself by celebrating and then your celebration ‘coincidentally’ comes crashing down, it is enough to make any semi-insecure person second-guess themselves.
I tried to find the ceramic travel coffee mug again in stores and online, but it was no longer available.
Go listen to an Adele song if you need to in order to get my sadness.
And then, a couple of months later, I saw it in a store. I texted my husband – the poor soul, he so patiently cares about all of the tiny things that matter to me – that I’d seen it and he texted back immediately: “Better get it.”
“No,” I texted back. “I’ll just break it again.”
And that got me thinking. Of course I’ll just break it again. Just like everything and everyone else in my life. I get a fresh start – a new year – in which I resolve to tame my tongue or slow my anger or curb my appetites. And I do for awhile. I make definite progress. But then ‘I just break it again.’ My tongue loosens, my anger speeds, my appetites rage. But that is the beautiful thing about life, about growth, about God: I’m never perfect, but that’s not what I’m aiming for. I’m just aiming for movement, progress, transformation – by God’s grace and with His Spirit. The ‘just breaking it again,’ therefore, is not a sign of God’s withdrawal or disapproval, but of His very present movement and grace to keep moving. I’ll never be perfect, but I’m beautiful. Broken and beautiful.
So: I bought it again. And this time, when it breaks, I’m celebrating.