Friday, May 21, 2010

Sweetly Broken, Still

I've spent the week still pondering the whole sugar bowl incident, and what it means to live my life with an open heart, even when it means that my heart might sometimes be broken. I have been pondering the connection between brokenness and love. The most powerful connection for me is Jesus, which the song "Sweetly Broken" is all about. Specifically I am considering the weight of love revealed in His words, "This is my body broken for you." The words themselves add a whole new revelation to the phrase "sweetly broken, wholly surrendered."

When I was in seminary I had what some would describe as a vision. All I know is that I had a powerful experience of Jesus that filled all my senses in a way I had not known before. And what is funny is that, although I had given my heart to Him a hundred times in my adolescent life, I had never had that experience of His presence. Now the presence of God, or the Holy Spirit, both of those were very real to me. But feeling Jesus as a part of my life was so hard for some reason. And then there was that night in seminary. I was in a worship service, my eyes closed, my voice raised as I sang a love song to the Lord. In my mind's eye I saw someone standing before me, hands stretched out to me. The face was obscure, but those hands had been pierced. I knew exactly Who it was, and in astonishment, joy, and relief I grasped the hands held out to me. I was so overwhelmed at finally having a real encounter with Jesus that I began to weep. Ever so gently those nail-pierced hands lifted to my face and began to wipe my tears away. "No," I said, "There are too many." And the voice of Jesus spoke to my heart, "There are never too many tears for Me to wipe away."

Jesus always appeared to His disciples after the resurrection with the scars of His death intact. Even in His glorified self, His body held the evidence of His love for the world that He died to save. So when He says to us, "This is my body broken for you," we can believe Him; He does not erase the cost of loving us from His person, as if it didn't happen, as if we had ceased to exist for Him the moment He enterend heaven. It is immensely comforting to me.

Because a broken heart is not the only risk that love has demanded from me. My body has been broken as well. I am the mother of three boys. Each one was delivered by C-section. For the first two I have a fairly well hidden horizontal scar on my abdomen where they cut a hole in my body to pull my children out. I begged my doctor for this third time to just let me have another incision like that. But she did not give in; the scar tissue inside my body was far to bad. As it turned out, having a vertical incision probably saved my life. Without it, she told my husband afterwards, I would have been in trouble. And so now I have a red scar that stretches up my belly.

In the month or so after giving birth to Jeremiah, I grieved for my body. I wanted the old one back; the new one looked ugly to me; the new one made me feel ugly all over. One morning I simply sat in the middle of my closet and cried. In the midst of terrible physical pain, a breastfeeding nightmare, hormonal overload, and kidney stones to top it off, I just broke down and wept. Every part of me hurt: body, mind, spirit, and soul.

As I sat there crying, my sweet three year old came in. With a gentle touch he cupped my face in his little hands and looked intently into my eyes. "Mommy, you're a princess," was all he said.

As I have pondered the words to that worship song the last couple of weeks, the meaning of "sweetly broken" has gone deeper and deeper. I am beginning to make peace with my body. I am immensely grateful to it for giving me the gift of motherhood. I love being a mother, and I love my boys with all that I am. Now when I look at my scar, I try not to think about how unflattering it looks, but rather about how those three boys are so worth it. It is worth it to me to bear a scar that brought my children into the world. I guess that is how Jesus feels about His own scars. It is worth it to Him to bear the scars of bringing His children into eternity.

I still don't feel much like a princess, at least not the image of one I carry in my head. But I know I am one to my son. And I believe I am the daughter of the King. He died to bring me home to Himself. So being a princess is not about unblemished perfection. It is not about being untouchable and unreal. Instead it is about being boldy accessible, vulnerable and bendable, willing to enter in to love, even at the price of suffering. I continue to learn that love truly does conquer all. But it is only His love that makes real love possible or plausible.

This is me full of trust,


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