Broken

2 Corinthians 4: 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

My husband has damaged his knee. He is hyperactive, and a superb athlete. But he didn’t injure it doing any of the fairly dangerous things he loves to do (rock climb, ski jumps). He injured it moving oh so slowly training our four year old on the ski slopes.

I have the privilege and the pain of watching God court some one He and I both love dearly. My husband grew up poor, so he relies more than he should on his bank accounts.

He grew up lonely, so he is fiercely independent.

He doesn’t trust people easily.

I am watching as our Father deals with him on these things. For several days, all he could do was weep and mope. I have been on the broken end of this courtship more than once and it is painful. I have been carefully ripped limb from limb, only to be put back together better than new. But the breaking part is awful. Everywhere I have had doubts, mistrust, self-reliance, laziness, pride or a host of other sins, I have been broken and sometimes to my shame more than once.

This is where my husband is right now.

Then he realized he could still coach T-ball, albeit on crutches. He can still play drums in the worship team. He can drive.  The list of “can” is much longer than the list of “can’t”.

And I have watched as a joy I recognize is stealing over him. He’s laughing. He expressed trust that God would walk us through our upcoming court case. He just looks stronger.

There are so many wonderful things about him, that I could never explain to a non-believer my mixed feelings at watching this occur. I know the necessity of the breaking process. Clay jars have to have cracks in them, so the light can shine out. I know the absolute need for pruning, breaking, refining, and what it feels like to be the lump of steel in the forge – between the hammer and the fire – turning into a polished lethal blade.

And so I’m watching my husband have the same experience. I hate it for him, on the one hand, but on the other, I know that he will be immeasurably better for the changes this will cause. WE will be immeasurably better.

And so I am waiting, using this as a wonderful opportunity to adore and serve a man who doesn’t usually sit still long enough for me to do much more than feed him.

Peter had to be broken, suffering anguish when he denied his friend and our Messiah three times, before he was bold enough to proclaim the Gospel and receive the Holy Spirit.

Paul had to be broken, starting with blindness but also with jail, injury and pain, so that he would have the inspiration and grace to write and share and preach as he did.

Jesus himself was broken, not by temptation in the desert as we sometimes are, but by nails and a cross, and sometimes we have to share in that broken, damaged, painful state to participate with Him in the life, the glory, the rising again.

 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

The Princess Has Gone to the Chickens

Yesterday, I took an accidental tour of Lower Manhattan. I got off at the newly re-opened World Trade Center stop and thought I was pretty close to 55 Water Street, my destination. I was wearing only 3 inch heels. This should have all been factors in a very happy outcome.

Instead, because I am extremely directionally challenged, I had a 30 minute walking tour of the area. I did see some rather lovely buildings that I’m rather fond of, but I’d have preferred the sight-seeing in flats. I was only 8 minutes late to my meeting, and the facilities gentlemen who were waiting for me were typically gracious.

On the way, sometime during my walk, I was ogled for the first time in quite a while by a handsome early thirties banker type. Striped suit, new phone, gorgeous haircut – I know the type very well. When I lived in London, I spent most of my time around that type. It is quite a fascinating sub-culture. Even in this economy, it’s a ferrari existence with all the clothes and the appearances and testosterone and competitiveness. They are nicer than our press suggests, most of them, but it’s not a stable species. Too much adrenaline, so I don’t think they ever really settle down.

They used to be something of a hobby for me in my twenties, although I’ve always preferred the geekier technorati. Less aftershave, longer hair, cooler hobbies. But the bankers are a discerning breed and so I was extremely flattered.

The last time I remember banker ogle was three kids ago, three sizes smaller, longer hair and some very racy European suits. The old me was at home in the fast-paced City of London, American accent nowhere to be found, very stylish “flat” in the trendy Docklands area (a recovered spice factory, no less). My girlfriends and I were like the “Sex in the City, London Edition”.

And I was so, so, so happy to meet my now husband and leave all of that.

Sure I’d like to be that size again, I’m not going to deny it. I’m growing out my hair and laugh about getting my super powers back. But the idea of commuting in four inche heels every day, or showing that much leg? Oh please.

My life has four children, seven chickens, ten acres in the country and a wonderful husband. What on earth could I possibly be lacking? Absolutely nothing. My God has blessed me extravagantly, and blesses me daily with the energy and patience to juggle all of it.

Still, my husband forgets to say nice things to me about how I look, or cook, or anything really. It isn’t intentional, he has that brand of emotional autism frequently found among technorati but I’ll take it over the philandering, irresponsibility and vanity I found in the banker types.

I’m still a Southern princess, and will be forever. But I don’t think I need as much reinforcement and validation from external sources as I used to in my insecure twenties. This phase of my life feels sturdier, more real. I can do stuff. I don’t look for approval from anyone but my God, and I have all the love I need from Him and my family and circle of amazing friends. So the Princess is chilling out in her old age (of not even forty). I’m thankful for the tumult of my twenties because it prepared me for a life of chickens and babies and chaos and commuting.

Still, the little look and the approval it conveyed did make me smile. The multi-block trek in heels was worth it for the two seconds of banker appreciation. I was wearing a new dress ($6 from our local outlet, what a big spender!) and I’m glad it appears to be flattering because my husband failed to comment. I’ve been making an effort to look the part a little more since getting the big promotion, and so it was nice to see my efforts recognized.

Thank you, nice handsome banker man. I hope you enjoyed the rest of your day as much as I did.