Written By Elisa Morgan
Elisa Morgan is a speaker and the author of The Beauty of Broken and Hello, Beauty Full. A graduate of Denver Seminary (MDiv), she served for twenty years as the CEO of MOPS International and now is President Emerita. Along with Mart DeHaan and Bill Crowder, she co-hosts the daily syndicated radio program, “Discover the Word” (www.discovertheword.org). Connect with Elisa at www.elisamorgan.com.
Most of us don’t want to talk about the not-so-pretty stuff of life. We’d rather focus on loveliness. Hued sunsets. Bursting flowers. Downy ducklings and fluffy lambs. Holidays. But I’ve discovered a beauty that God brings in the unseemly, unexpected, broken things. He brings beauty into broken relationships, shattered dreams and painful realities.
I come from a broken family. When I was five, my father sat in a white easy chair in his home office and beckoned me to his lap. He looked into my eyes and said, “Elisa, I’ve decided I don’t love your mother any more. We are getting a divorce.”
My family broke and I wondered how I could fix it.
My broken family – my mother, sister, brother and I – moved across the continent where my days started with the sound of my mother’s alarm down the hall in our ranch-style home. I pushed back the covers and padded into the kitchen where I grabbed a glass, plunked in some ice cubes and poured Coca Cola over it. With a handful of chocolate chip cookies from the cookie jar, I made my way down the hall to my mother’s bedroom. There I placed “breakfast” on her nightstand, turned off the alarm and began the process of getting her up and ready for work. As a single mom, she needed to work and it was my daily job to wake her up. My mother struggled with alcohol.
My mother broke. I wondered what I could do to fix her.
When I had a chance as a grownup to start fresh, I determined it was my responsibility to make an unbroken family. After all, I had become a Christian as a teenager, had been involved in ministry, even gone to seminary, where I met and later married my husband. Precious, stable, rock of a man. I honestly believed that if I implemented “perfect family values,” then I would have a perfect family.
Problem is, I’m broken. Everybody is. Even God’s family was broken – beginning with Adam and Eve and moving forward to you and me. No matter what we do, we all end up in broken families. In one way or another.
There’s no such thing as a perfect family. Instead of fighting this reality – and failing – God invites us to embrace it. And to see the beauty he brings in the broken.
I come from a broken family. And despite my very best attempts to produce a formulaically perfect Christian family in my second—the reality is that I still come from a broken family. We are messy – gooey in the middle – and I love my family more than I ever thought possible, brokenness and all. I love who they are and I love who they have made me to be.
I’ve come to discover that God offers hope in the form of “broken family values”—values like commitment, humility, courage, reality, relinquishment, diversity, partnership, faith, love, respect, forgiveness and thankfulness. He understands that no one is perfect. He knows the unique journeys of loved ones. He gets it that abnormal is actually pretty normal. That people mess up and yet are worthy of respect and love and are never—ever—without hope. God holds each family close, crying with his wounded children, tenderly assembling and reassembling fallen fragments, creating us into better versions of ourselves.
God doesn’t sweep the broken up into a dustpan and discard it. In order to reach the broken in our world, God himself broke, allowing his own Son to die a broken death on a cross for us. “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 3:5). God brings beauty in the broken. God loves the broken. God uses the broken.
What if we move away from the myth of the perfect family and toward the reality of our beautifully broken ones? Might we then breathe air clean of the stench of shame and saturated with the grace of God? And might others find in us, not the exhausting chasing of some impossible dream but fresh hope for the real life they are living? A life where Jesus comes, in a broken body, to provide the beauty of healing?
I come from a broken family. I still come from a broken family. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. I’m pretty sure that my story is likely yours too.
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