About a month and a half ago, our TV broke. Around the same time, my husband lost his wedding band. And then my car keys went missing. Then, I couldn’t locate my engagement ring. The diamond was wobbling in its setting, so I had put it in the box it came in and set the box in a safe place where it wouldn’t be misplaced. And then I couldn’t, for the life of me, remember where that safe place was. I could’ve sworn it was on my dresser, but it wasn’t there at all. No engagement ring that held the memory of my husband kneeling down in some random guy’s backyard asking me to spend the rest of his life with him while I sneezed and coughed all over him because I had been too sick with a nasty cold to be convinced to go to the mountains like he had planned. And then, a guy smashed the back half of our 18 year-old minivan. We were fine, and it still runs but it was just one more thing.
Lost and broken. Everything, it seemed, in our lives was getting lost and/or broken. We have three sons. We are not strangers to lost and broke. But this was more than usual for sure.
Our TV is still broken. I don’t want to fix it. It’s summertime. Summer is for popsicles and playing. Riding bikes around the neighborhood, running, climbing, swinging, exploring. We don’t need a TV in the summer because we have Outside. Our conversations now sound like this:
“I’m bored, Mom.”
“But the only thing that makes me not bored is playing video games or watching shows.”
“Bummer. TV’s broken. Go outside.”
“Go. Outside. Or you can help me wash the dishes, fold the laundry, clean the bathrooms, take out the trash...”
“I’m going to the park.”
“I thought so.”
Fifteen minutes later, I hear peals of laughter coming from my children who are running, climbing, swinging… They are investing more of their time playing in God’s creation because our TV is broken.
And we talk more with a broken TV. We spend time togethering. I know that’s not a verb, but it should be. We play games together. We tell stories together. We read together. And my husband? My husband turned into a chatterbox. My introverted, keeps-his-cards-close-to-his-vest husband comes home from work and tells me things without me exhausting him with a million questions.
It’s beautiful, this togetherness we’ve found because of the broken.
The other things? The lost wedding band? He found it. It had slid off of his finger inside his baseball glove when he was playing catch with the kids, but while it was lost, it reminded him how much he loves being married to me. (At least that’s what he told me.) And it sweetened our relationship. I was never mad. These things happen. But the fact that it was lost reminded us how precious our marriage is.
The lost keys? They turned up. I knew they would.
The engagement ring? I remembered the safe place I put it. And we realized that the valuable thing about the ring-- the memories-weren’t altered in any way.
The smashed back end of the minivan? We’re still figuring out the insurance in that situation, but I am confident it will turn out in a way that will be a blessing.
Lost or broken is not a death sentence, you see. Sometimes recognizing that things are lost and/or broken is a gift.
I think that’s the way God sees it, because when I believed I was just fine on my own thankyouverymuch, I didn’t need Jesus. When I didn’t believe I was broken, I could take care of myself, be the master of my domain and all that. But when I recognized my life, my soul, my heart as it was… lost and broken… it was only then that I realized what I really needed to be found and whole.
Emily Donehoo is the only female in a family of five. She is a former High School English Teacher and National Trainer for the College Board. These days, when she isn’t scrubbing toilets, administering timeouts, working at book fairs, attempting to tackle dinner, laundry, homework help, dishes, and a preschooler’s incessant questions, she writes authentically about the hard stuff that really matters, hoping to uncover the truth that God has for us whether it makes us cry from laughter, pain or both at the same time.