I was still growing up even as I was raising my own kids. In the process, I shattered on the floor into a million little pieces. My children picked up some of the pieces and fit them into themselves. Sometimes that’s a good thing; other times, not so much. I sometimes wish I could grab hold of those pieces, the not-good ones, and exchange them for something more desirable in me. Or better yet, to take those pieces from my wife instead of me.
But it doesn’t work that way.
They collected pieces of me, pieces of my wife, and we launched them into the world, little mosaics of our making. I have been thinking of this lately for a couple reasons.
First, my older daughter is 9 days away from having her first child (via scheduled C-section). My first grandchild. The first time a baby of mine will have a baby themself.
Which pieces of me that my daughter collected will she pass along to her child? What a legacy to leave to the world–something that I had a hand in its existence but I cannot control.
I am confident that my daughter collected far more of the good pieces of me and my wife than the ones I wish she had left alone. We added to the mix that she always knew (and continues to know) how much we loved her (and continue to love her). Another bonus for this child who is about to burst forth into our lives is that my son-in-law is also comprised mostly of the best pieces of his loving parents.
I am trusting them and trusting God that this new little person will make the world he is inheriting a better place, either in small ways, or maybe in great ways.
The second reason I have been thinking about pieces of me is that my younger daughter turned 22 on Friday. Laying my soul bare here, I have to admit that the last 3-4 years with her have been nothing less than an ultimate test of our (my wife and my) faith, patience, and forgiveness. Yet God has walked with us, strengthened us, encouraged us, given us the right words to say so that we could do the same for and with our daughter–it has been an extremely difficult time for her as well. She finally seems to have found her way back to a path that is more life-giving than life-taking, thanks be to God. Of course, we hope and pray that she continues on this good trajectory.
So this daughter and her boyfriend had a party to celebrate her birthday. One really cool thing is that in addition to all of her young friends, she invited us to come as well. Sometimes it works out well when you storm the gates of hell for your child and you drag them back. Thankfully, this was one of those times.
But maybe even more remarkable than that was that at the party, we had the chance to talk with a young woman who is probably our daughter’s longest-term friend. And here’s the thing: this young lady credits our daughter with saving her life because, well, she did. The story is not mine to tell, so I will summarize it by saying that our daughter had to make a very difficult decision to probably save her friend’s life at the risk of losing her friendship. And even amid the tremendous struggles our daughter was enduring (which turned out to be a precursor for her own life or death battle), she made the right decision for her friend.
Speaking with this young woman made me realize that our daughter must have collected more honorable and courageous pieces of us than was evident at the time. She did the right thing for her friend even when it was hard. And even when she wasn’t doing the right thing for herself very often.
This being an encouraging Christian blog, I need to add that these two situations made me reflect that there are probably elements here that are analogous to God’s relationship with us. Pieces of Him are scattered throughout the Bible. Jesus carried them with him in his own jar of clay, and showed us how to take those pieces and make them part of ourselves.
But we don’t do that perfectly. Sometimes we hang on to our own pieces instead of exchanging them for the better ones God offers us. And yet, He has launched us into the world, even with our messy pieces. He still intends for us to use the pieces of Him to help Him bring heaven here to earth. He doesn’t control us, but He does continue to encourage us to exchange our shabby, tarnished pieces for the sparkling jewels He offers us. He hopes that we have picked up enough good pieces from Him so that we will leave the world a better place than it was when we arrived.
Also, He suffers when we wander off the Path of Life. How often do we stretch His patience and forgiveness? And yet He stormed the gates of hell for us, and continues to do so, repeatedly, to drag us back onto that Path every time something life-taking captures our attention.
And He delights when we, in moments of clarity, reflect His Light in the darkness, even in spite of the darkness surrounding us. And in those moments, God may take our meager offering and use it to save someone. It is then that pieces of Him sparkle and shine through us, when even our own darkness cannot overcome His Light.