Do you ever wonder how He can love us even though we are broken? Carol looks back on a fond childhood memory that reminds her of God’s unconditional love.
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A Family Story
I love family stories and memorabilia. My keeping of family pieces has become part of the puzzle pieces of my life and at times can be overwhelming. What should I do with all the things I have accumulated, especially when it begins to feel like I have too much stuff? What should be kept? What stories need to be preserved and passed on to the next generations? There are times when some of these family pieces and the stories that go with them have impacted me in ways I never expected. Sometimes they give me a glimpse into a life I never knew or a time I was too young to remember. At other times they help me remember or learn a lesson. I have a little pair of ornamental shoes sitting on my shelf that happens to be one of those pieces that helped me realize a life lesson. Even though the story happened before I can remember, I have heard it so many times it feels like it has become my own.
The China Shoes
This little pair of white, ornamental china shoes decorated with pink and blue china roses sat on the shelf at my grandmother’s house to be admired. Years ago they had been a gift from her two daughters who wanted to give her something to enjoy. She loved to look at them because they reminded her of her daughter’s love but also because she did not have many pretty things to decorate her house.
Then one day, long before I was old enough to remember, my Grandpa used them to entertain me, the first grandchild. He decided to dress up my doll in the best finery he could find. He took down those special china shoes from the shelf on which they sat and tried to place one on my doll’s foot. It did not fit but he did not give up. He kept pressing, trying to make it work so he could do something special just for me. Suddenly, the shoe lay in pieces, totally ruined. He thought he would have to throw it out. But my Grandma picked up the broken pieces. Carefully, piece by piece, she restored the shoe to its original shape. She placed the pair of china shoes back on the shelf. One shoe’s perfectness sat in stark contrast to the easily visible cracks where the pieces had been painstakingly glued together, and which marred the other little shoe.
Years passed. The glue in the cracks turned brown with age. Grandpa passed away. Grandma repeated the story many times, especially to me – the reason, she teased behind the broken shoe. I grew up and had children of my own. Grandma continued to repeat the story to the next generation of listeners who wondered about why one little broken and repaired ornamental shoe sat beside a perfect one. More years passed. My Grandma became old and planned to move to a small apartment. As she sorted through her things and the lifetime of memories they represented, she took the china shoes from the shelf and offered them to me but added, “Well at least you might as well have the good one. Should have thrown the other one away years ago I suppose. Never could make myself get rid of it. Maybe now’s the time.”
I didn’t have to think much about my answer. I wanted to keep this ornament but both parts of it. After all, I had seen them like this for my entire life – all that I could remember anyway and had heard the story so often I could tell it as well as she could. The story wouldn’t be the same without both little shoes.
When I eagerly insisted on not throwing the mended one away, my grandma gave me the pair of little china shoe ornaments, a hug, and a smile.
Broken Yet Loved
Many more years have passed. Grandma is no longer here but those china shoes sit on a shelf in my home. And I still tell the story about how my grandma mended the broken shoe with glue and lots of love.
I think about how putting that little broken shoe back together was like setting puzzle pieces together. The unbroken shoe was the template – the picture of what the broken one had looked like and should once again look like. Once the glue set the broken shoe resembled what it had once been only with cracks and glue.
Each time I look at these little shoes in my china cabinet I am reminded of love and also how God wants to mend each of us just as Grandma did that little shoe. The little shoes remind me of my grandmother but they are also a reminder of love, something everyone longs for. Grandma loved me and did not get upset about the broken shoe. Grandma loved the givers of the ornaments and my grandfather even when he had done something silly. She fixed the shoe and kept the pair together out of love.
God’s Unconditional Love
But these little shoes, mended in love, also remind me too that I am loved by God, even when I feel so broken. When I give him all the pieces of my life he puts them back together. Sometimes the brown glue peeks through but that should only serve as a reminder of love.
We are imperfect, broken vessels, but God doesn’t throw us away. He waits patiently for us to bring the broken pieces of our lives to Him, those puzzle pieces we can’t figure out how they go together to form a whole and complete part of our lives. He won’t force us to give him the pieces but he is right there – watching and waiting until we realize we can’t fix the brokenness by ourselves, we can’t find the way the puzzle pieces should go together. Then He takes those pieces and lovingly mends them with His love, mercy, and forgiveness.
As we look at the mends in our lives, we still see the brown of the glue, the imperfections, but God sees us like the first little unbroken shoe, whole and perfect. Every sin, flaw, and imperfection is covered by the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
In our brokenness, we are deeply loved by God, a love that goes much deeper and higher than any love we can imagine.
Listen to Carol’s program Puzzle Pieces Of Life.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential. She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope. She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren. Visit her website carolscorner.ca
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