Grace Through the Shattering

Josh was so excited as he brought in a new painting to be hung up. Right as he was about to show it to me, full of excitement and ready to be displayed in our home, it shattered. With no warning the glass broke, scattering all over the better part of our hardwood floor.

He went to work sweeping up the large chunks of glass quickly as to not leave a future need for Jake and the Neverland Pirates band aids. 

Inevitably, tomorrow or in a few months, some bare foot is going to make painful contact with a tiny remnant of the glass frame. 

Those are the worst. No warning, no way to find the root of the pain, just a constant ache buried somewhere in your heel. 

I never got to see the painting. It was never displayed and never will be. 

One year ago this weekend, my life as I knew it, shattered. Mom had just begun her retirement. Marilyn Etheredge worked 65 years on her painting. Here was her time to display her rich colors, juxtaposing jagged and smooth lines, with predictable textures of love and honesty. While she had her surprises, Momma was not a Jackson Polluck piece to stand and wonder the message. Her canvas always spoke of unconditional love. Her life painted fiery reds of passion and purpose, meaning. Her art work beckoned you to go deeper, search for more, and find that no matter how you think you might have messed it up, there was always a Greater Love always at work turning your "mistakes into beauty."

And right before she could finally hang it up and enjoy her rest, she shattered...I shattered. 

The past year has been a journey. Unlike Josh's actions of cleaning up the shards of glass, I have had to learn to live with them. 

The remnants of a shattered life are not simply thrown away. They are tiny splinters that bury themselves in our hearts and memories. They are at times a constant ache and at times a sudden jolt of unexpected pain that steals your breath and forces you on your knees, leaving you begging to be anywhere else. 
Oh how it would be easier to simply sweep away the mess. But we are left to try to put ourselves back together into some sort of jarred mosaic. 
I have traveled all over this land of grief. I have ventured into the depression caves, wanting to see the darkness alone.  I have wandered in the thorn bushes, beating myself up for words said, words unsaid, actions not taken. Occasionally, I lifted boulders over my head showing off my new strength, daring new obstacles to come my way. I have run to the edges of cliffs, climbed unknown trees, and tested the boundaries of this new reality. Many, many, many, times, I have wallowed in the pity pond, demanding answers from the Creator. Why? How? Didn't you see all I have done for you? 

And somehow, He doesn't leave. He doesn't leave me to drown in my own pity, though I deserve it. 

And while He does lead me beside still waters and He does restore my soul. He also frequently sends a splinter of glass to remind me of the shattered life. And He shows me how the shards have become an irreplaceable part of my own unique canvas. An artwork that is loved at its worst and yet contains such beauty from new strength. And most of all, most of all He shows me the reflection of His GRACE in the shards. The Grace that was there before the shattering. This Grace was poured over me daily by two beautiful, loving parents that laid an amazing foundation for my canvas. And He has showed me this Grace even AFTER the shattering by His reflection in my many blessings of remaining family and friends. 

I was determined that this weekend was going to be a celebration that I had made it an entire year without either of my parents, that somehow I survived. And I do celebrate the fact that I have survived the absolute worst year of my life. But tonight, I celebrate the Grace reflected in the shattering. The Grace shown through so many acts of kindness and love, an ear, a shoulder, a memory, a prayer, a distraction. I thank our forgiving and merciful Lord for pulling me out of the pity pond even when I was determined to not even attempt to get out of the boat, to  not even try to walk to Him. He rescued me still. He threw me grace. 
So, while I know there will still be trips to caves and ponds. While the shards and splinters will still bring pain, I am grateful. I am grateful for the reminder of Grace through the shattering.  


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