Tuesday, March 20, 2007

treasures in jars of clay

“Betsy, you’re like a cracked pot, and if you don’t take care of the cracks, everything inside of you is going to come spilling out onto the people around you!”

With those words, I was being admonished by a woman—a pastor, in fact—for my apparent vulnerabilities just after having opened my eyes to the deepest betrayal I’ve ever experienced. My heart was torn wide open and ripped apart, my spirit was crushed, and I was being told to pick it all up and stuff it back down into the urn of my soul. The nerve of me—I was making a mess!

Guilt set in immediately. Someone had noticed. I was flawed. I was weak. And this woman was right: Not only was I a cracked pot, I had flat out shattered. There I was, a person who had made a career out of “holding it all together,” now in pieces on the floor. So now, not only was I fielding the pain of betrayal and grief, I was also ridden with disappointment in myself.

The Lord brought that day from years ago to my mind recently as I was praying, and I got to thinking about why it is that we’re so afraid to be broken and petrified of being flawed. Why is it that often it is felt so true that we should not be exposing our weakness, our fragility, to anyone? What are we afraid might come “spilling out?” I think we fear sometimes that the things that eat away at our hearts—fear, loneliness, unmet expectations, disappointments in ourselves and others—will be exposed. In shame, we keep them sealed away for no one to see, and quickly mend any cracks in the vessel of our soul. We become tightly sealed jars.

But I don’t think that’s how God meant for us to live. We all have cracks. We all have moments of weakness, hurts, and flaws. I realize every day just how cracked truly I am. But I have come to realize that my fractures as a person create a space for the love and grace of God to seep out of me and into the lives of others. I am a broken vessel—with weakness, vulnerability, and faults—but that brokenness creates a tiny crevice through which the Holy Spirit can operate. It is only then that Christ is powerfully revealed as a "treasure in jars of clay" (2 Corinthians 4).

Outwardly, I am nothing, but it is God who is at work inside of me… and it is Christ that I want others to see—not a flawless cistern.

”My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:26

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