One of the most personally touching moments of our most recent holiday celebration was when my husband brought home a splitting maul that he had picked up from a saw shop in town. It was one that he owned for a long time and was broken. The handle was made of wood, and it was old and brittle. It was accidentally broken by our son who used it to chop wood at our cabin. It wasn’t inexpensive to repair the handle, but he did it anyway. Some people would probably shake their heads and ask, “Why didn’t you just buy a new one?” He was so excited when he walked in the door. He exclaimed, “Wow they even painted the head bright red.” It looked brand new. There was a great lesson in that.
How quick are we to throw something away just because it is broken? I’m not just talking about a broken garden tool. I’m talking about love, relationships, and friendships. Sometimes we even throw ourselves away because we can’t see past the damage. We all become broken at some point in our lives. Our bodies break down, our spirits seem lost and sometimes it can feel there is no way back. When it happens to someone we love and care about, just like my husband did with the splitting maul, what would happen if you tried your best to fix it rather than toss it for a newer one? Sometimes, broken relationships can’t be fixed. They are simply too toxic, but by trying, you know you did all you could and can live without regret.
I am not good at remembering biblical scripture, but when my husband and I were married many years ago, we had a certain scripture about love printed on little scrolls and we gave them to our guests. My favorite part of that scripture is verse 7 of 1 Corinthians 13, “It (love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
When I speak at events, I remind my audience that we all survive something. It can be loss of a loved one, illness, a job, financial resources, or any other trauma. When we are in the midst of it, we can feel broken. When that happens, we need those around us to support us through that time and nurture us until we are back. When you truly care about someone and treasure them, you make the effort. If you owned the original Mona Lisa, and it had a tear in the corner, wouldn’t you take it to an expert, like my husband did with the splitting maul, and have it restored? Or would you toss it?
When a woman has breast cancer, she can feel broken from head to toe. For me, my breasts were gone, my hair was gone. I was without eyelashes or eyebrows for a while. Then, because of treatment, I went into early menopause from lack of estrogen. I remember feeling for a time that I was no longer a woman because I truly felt that all the things that made me a woman were gone. Some of those things returned, but not all. Though I know it wasn’t always easy for him, my husband nurtured me through it. He helped me laugh, and though I couldn’t feel any uglier, he made me feel beautiful. He helped restore me emotionally.
Some things can’t be restored to their exact physical sameness. The splitting maul is no longer as it was. The former handle had a beautiful wood sheen that got better with age, but it had become brittle, and the metal head was natural steel though it had gotten dull and rusty with time. My husband spent hours gently removing the rust with fine sandpaper. But when it finally broke, instead of throwing it out, he took it to an expert because it mattered to him. It looks different now, but it is still quite functional.
When our bodies age and break down, we can’t necessarily be restored to our former glory, and it would be silly to try, but we can learn to look past the imperfections. We may not be the same as we once were, but we are still functional. Even without cancer, as we age, we lose certain things. Hair gets thinner, bodies get wider. I heard that we shrink as we age, but I’ve come to the conclusion that we don’t shrink…we melt! Everything that used to give us height is now pooling around lower parts of our bodies. It’s who we are inside that is the real deal. We just need to learn to look at ourselves and those we love with new eyes. That is true restoration.
Make 2017 the year that see yourself for the beautiful person you are, inside and out. Have a happy new year and be kind to yourself and those you love. It matters. They matter. You matter.