A few months ago, Danny and I were honored to attend his son David’s wedding. I cannot thank the Lord enough for the blessing of the healed relationship between my husband and his son. We’ve cherished getting to know Danny’s new daughter-in-law Veronica, and of course the grandkids are a gift to our hearts as well.
The song the happy couple chose for their first dance was one I’d never heard, but it brought me to tears as soon as I heard the chorus. If you’ve never listened to Casting Crowns Broken Together you should (tissues may be required).
My first thought was, yes, this is absolutely perfect for them. They’ve overcome many challenges and yet haven’t given up on the promises God is making through them and for their new blended family.
But what if the message is bigger than that? Because don’t the partners in any marriage bring with them a brokenness?
Kitsungi is the old Japanese practice of repairing broken pottery with gold. The results are beautiful yet imperfect vessels whose cracks shine like fine artwork. This is said to come from the philosophy of wabi-sabi, which believes in seeing beauty from things that are flawed and also mottainai which expresses regret when something is wasted.
And isn’t that what God does with us? There is not a thing that is wasted with God. Even our suffering and our pain can be used to his Glory.
I’ve been following Ann Voskamp and reading her books since earlier this year, just before my grandmother died. In The Broken Way, she asks: What do you do with your one broken heart?
She tells the story of her little daughter making a big white paper heart. The girl wants to tape it to her chest so that everyone can see Jesus’ love for us. In the process, she smooths out the heart and it rips, right down the middle.
She waits for the inevitable flow of tears from her daughter. Instead, her little girl looks up at her and says, “It’s all okay. Maybe the love gets in easier right where the heart is broken open.”
And in marriage, there is always a bit of brokenness brought to the table. Sometimes a lot of brokenness. But if a marriage is founded on a belief and trust in the Lord, maybe His love can enter through the broken pieces.
And maybe that love can mend the breaks so that we can gift our partners with the beautiful imperfection of our souls.
But it takes God’s grace for us to appreciate that beauty. If we had been standing at that cross on Golgotha to see the broken, bloodied and beaten body of Jesus, we would likely have been horrified by the sight.
We might have been frightened. We might have been angry. We might have turned away, unable to witness such a horrible death.
Today, though, as Christians, we look at that cross and see triumph. Our God’s victory over death. His sacrifice made perfect for our sakes. His blood is the gold filling in the cracks of our sins.
Danny’s son and his new wife played the shoe game at their reception. If you’ve never seen it, the couple take off their shoes and exchange one so that each of them has a his and a hers shoe. They sit back-to-back, and the crowd asks them questions like, “Who is the best cook?” Each of them raises the corresponding shoe to answer.
It was a fun game, and I was impressed because most of the time the two of them answered the questions the same. They knew each other, they knew themselves, and they weren’t afraid to admit which one is messier, which one says sorry first. And as I watched, I hoped they could always know each other so well…
But chances are they won’t. Because the person they will be five, ten, twenty years from now won’t be the people who were sitting back-to-back in a room surrounded by loved ones.
Those people will grow and change and periodically become strangers to one another. They’ll be changed not just by life, but by each other. That’s just the nature of life, right?
But what does that mean for a marriage? What does it mean if the person we fell in love with won’t be the person we wake up beside tomorrow? And how can we love something when pieces of it become broken?
Right now, I’m reading Be The Gift by Voskamp. In this devotional, she explains that givenness is healing for brokenness. But to give, we must open ourselves. Leave comfort behind. And that isn’t easy, especially sometimes in marriage.
Danny and I will celebrate twenty years of marriage in December. It’s a milestone many people didn’t think we would make. And there were times in our marriage when I’m sure one or both of us thought we wouldn’t.
I want life to be all rainbows and unicorns, but that’s not real. That’s a façade of what it really means to be a partnership. But if givenness is healing for brokenness, then we need to show as much of ourselves as we can in a gift to our partners.
For men especially, I think sharing pain and brokenness may be construed as weakness. Still, I can honestly say that one of the most cherished gifts my husband has given me is his trust in letting me see the broken pieces left over from a traumatic childhood.
Still, that doesn’t mean it’s easy to share our current pains. We’ve both been struggling with the residual issues related to ongoing litigation. And when either one of us is feeling stressed by it, we haven’t really dealt with it very well.
I’ve personally been snappy, angry, and critical of him for little things that don’t really matter. I know deep down, I’m lashing out at him in retaliation for what others have done to us.
I don’t remember being this way years ago. In fact, I think I’d have been more likely to stay quiet and swallow it all up inside me. But I’ve changed. And frankly, my hormones have changed just in the last year since I’ve entered the dreaded pre-menopausal time in my life.
A few weeks ago, we were in the middle of a pointed conversation about things, and I finally told him I didn’t want to talk to him anymore, and I left the room crying. My mood swings and emotional outburst are probably something Danny didn’t know he signed on for.
Oneness in Christ
But it seems like when we’ve been facing these trials lately that we’ve also both found strength in our faith. It’s in these times that one of us takes the other by the heart and leads them back to God. We remind each other constantly of the blessings we do have in life because they far outweigh any of the bad stuff.
And maybe that’s the key? Because even when marriage partners get broken, even when we sometimes break each other and even when we change and aren’t the person we were when we said our vows, there is still one constant.
For a marriage with God at its center, there is at least one thing that will never, ever change. And as long as we maintain Him as our rock, then our faith in Him can lead us to knowing each other again. To loving our partners in spite of and because of our brokenness.
His abiding love for us is there always. Nothing is wasted. Not brokenness. Not change. All of it can be used by a God who lived, bled and died for us.
Love and blessings,