Broken china, mended pitchers

This week at work the talk of holiday party planning has begun, and with the arrival of November, it seems Christmas has also arrived. Decorations are showing up around neighborhoods and shopping centers, countdowns are on, let the “busy” begin. As the season approaches I have thought a couple of different times about events I’ve planned, celebrations of Christmas and one particular party comes to mind.

Not because it was the best party, or really even all that fun. In fact, it was pretty stressful for me.  I was in charge of the work party, “plan something unique, we’ll use our house, let’s have a chef come in” was the directive I received from my boss.  As the party got closer and all the details were finalized, it should have been a great time.  In fact, people who were there, did have a great time, so it would be considered a success.

Except for the broken china.

Not what you’re thinking, no one broke a plate during the party.  As we were finalizing the setup a couple of hours before the guests arrived I was in the kitchen with my boss’ wife, also our hostess. She began telling me about her preparation for the party, and in the midst of her angst and frustration she dropped her entire stack of Spode Christmas china dinner plates on the floor of her kitchen and they shattered.

“But, don’t tell him” she said.

From that moment on, all I could think for the rest of the party was how to make it as easy on her as possible and what a glimpse of reality into their house.

They had a big house, in a great, desirable neighborhood. A second house in Colorado that was often discussed in the office. A ranch in South Texas. Two children attending private high school, one a Senior. A successful business. A brand new BMW and Range Rover in the garage. Custom shirts and tailored clothes. A housekeeper and services for most needs. All the finer things, “china”, this world could offer, from the outside looking in “perfection”, but the reality was a pile of shattered china, that she hid from her husband and everyone else in her life.

Sometimes I think the Christmas season magnifies the desire for our “A game” to shine. The house to be decorated perfectly, the card photo carefully planned and likely photo-shopped, a full calendar of social engagements and perfect family moments. When looking at others, “We take what our human eyes can see and we piece together an image, but we never know the full story.“* and the comparison begins to rise to unattainable standards. Reality is: the going and doing eventually has you feeling like a pile of shattered plates on the floor. It’s too hard to keep up the image. Exhausting at best. Joy is most certainly absent.

But what if those pieces could be put back together and reality, though not Pinterest-perfect really shined?

I read Angie Smith’s book Mended a few years ago, her story of healing and hope after great tragedy in their family. She mentions a book that suggested smashing a piece of pottery and putting it back together as a form of healing through grief. Some time later, she sensed God calling her to smash a piece of pottery, and put it together again. So, she did. “I began to realize this pitcher was my life, and every piece was part of a story that He had chosen to put together.”* The process of reconstructing that pitcher was healing to her, of who she was in God’s eyes. This image has stuck with me, one day I will smash a piece and rebuild it.

We think all the things we do and put forth are going to be good enough, the finest china set at the best party in the perfect house. However, our cracks and broken pieces of our lives tell a much better story.  Those cracks let others know, perfection isn’t reality and that is ok. This doesn’t mean imperfection is reality, more-so that honesty is reality, we are by nature imperfect people. “Here you are, Angie. You are mended. You are filled with My Spirit, and I am asking you to pour yourself out.“*

So take a step back, catch your breath and pause. Maybe with a plastic bag holding a pitcher or other pottery to smash and rebuild a visual reminder that cracks life has given are ok. Maybe it’s an eraser to the calendar that will run you down and setting aside time to just be and enjoy your family, friends and loved ones. Or, maybe a few intentional moments of gratitude for the means you have and how best to use them.

This Christmas season, put out your finest china, show off the chips and cracks, use it regularly. Gather your people and celebrate the year; the best, the hard, the pretty, the ugly, the highs, the lows, the gratitude for life. Pour out  from your mended, honest is ok, perfect isn’t necessary, pitcher. The party, no matter the size, location or what you’re wearing, will be a huge success!

Purchase Mended: AmazonBarnes & NobleLifeway
*quotes in post are from Mended, pg 6 and 172

1 Comment

  1. Laurie s on November 21, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for this heartfelt post Angie. this is good food for thought and the heart especially as we enter the holidays. I have the Biblical Mary and Martha complex going on with me right now. Always wanting to look perfect from the outside, but I am not.

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