Broken Brings Joy

As I became an adult, I had elaborate visions of what my life would look like, what my family would be like and how our lives would go. I wanted that perfect happy home. I envisioned these perfect holiday celebrations and worked hard to make them happen.  When things didn’t go as planned, I would feel like I failed and the holiday was ruined.  This cycle happened many years.

Much of my life did not go as I planned.  I was a stay at home mom of 2 young children when I got divorced.  That was not part of my plan and it was hard not to be bitter.  I gave birth to my children planning on spending every holiday with them.  Divorce changes that.  Kids are passed back and forth and everything is shared among 2 households.  

I was crushed.  My children would never have holidays the way I planned for them.  My way was good and this way was broken.  I cried out to God but he didn’t change it. Our first broken Christmas was celebrated a day early and was actually full of joy. That was my first taste of the joy in the midst of broken.

Today, my kid’s favorite Christmas tradition was what I would consider a Christmas fail.  I had purchased all the stuff to make gingerbread houses and I envisioned us as we happily made these beautiful houses that were displayed lovingly the week before Christmas. Well that never happened. Instead, it was a few days after Christmas that I grudgingly agreed to make the now “expired” houses just to use up the stuff. Because I thought the whole idea was already broken, the houses became a source of comic relief and joy.  The kids all remember the making of the houses and the outlandish stories that came as they explained the broken parts, falling people and messy places. From my broken dream of perfection, they saw joy.

Isaiah 55:8-9 says “God’s thoughts are not my thoughts and God’s ways are not my ways. God’s ways and thoughts are higher than mine.” When I ponder this scripture I can’t help but wonder if I’ve been looking at it all wrong. We strive so hard for perfection but what if that is not God’s way. What if God is revealed in the broken?  

I think about all the broken parts of Christmas.  I am sure it wasn’t Mary’s way or plan to be an unwed mother.  As I’m sure Joseph’s plan didn’t include marrying a pregnant girl.  And having a baby in a barn is certainly less than ideal.  Yet God used all of those things we would call broken to lead to the greatest gift ever given.

I can look back on my life so far and see that in many cases brokenness has often lead to great joy. My favorite vacation memories are a rowdy dinner at a Waffle House (no restaurants to eat at), getting stuck in a traffic circle (lost), and changing 20+ diapers on a 400 mile drive (eww!!).).This world is broken and it’s easy to forget that when we strive so hard for perfection. I have made a conscious effort to let go of the perfect way I imagine or wish it would be and try to find the joyful moments that are there in the midst of broken.    

As we look at this year and how broken it all is, I encourage you to see the redemption God brings into the brokenness.  Ask God to open your eyes and your heart to see the joy that shines through the broken this season. 

by Melissa Marr