By Beth Demme
“Sometimes I feel small and insignificant.” Susan’s eyes looked off at some point far beyond me. Her words made me feel sad, but I could definitely relate.
My friend was head-over-heels in love with her children, but she was frustrated by her parenting mistakes. I recalled coming to terms with my own mommy anger. I remembered the angry outbursts that made me feel unworthy of motherhood.
I knew her feelings of insignificance because I had experienced them, too.
“I’ve read the verses, Beth, but it doesn’t feel like they are about me.”
Earlier in the week I had tried to encourage her with Psalm 139: “You, God, made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous–how well I know it.… How precious are your thoughts about me, O God!”
I had even texted her that morning with Ephesians 2:10, “we are God’s masterpiece.”
To be honest, I was trying to convince myself as much as I was trying to convince my friend. I wanted to feel like a piece of marvelous workmanship, a masterpiece. So we sat, frowning over our complicated coffee drinks. I rested my hand on my head, chin in palm, and stirred my mocha-frappucino-thingy, lost for words.
Susan sat back with her arms and legs crossed in front of her. Her crossed leg was bouncing, keeping time with her thoughts.
“Seriously, Beth. God’s masterpiece? I don’t think so. A masterpiece is flawless. The Sistine Chapel is a masterpiece! I’m just a broken person who keeps blowing the most important job I’ve ever had! There’s nothing artful about my mothering.”
When she said Sistine Chapel, it clicked. In a flash of memory I saw this church in St. Petersburg, Russia near where my daughter was born.
It’s memorable because it has a gruesome name — the Church of the Spilled Blood, but it stuck in my memory because it’s filled with the most amazing mosaics I have ever seen. The walls and ceilings look like they are covered with paintings, but it’s actually about a bazillion tiny tiles. (Disclaimer: The signs were all in Russian and I couldn’t read them. One bazillion may, or may not be, the official count.)
“Wait, Susan. What if we’re thinking about the wrong kind of masterpiece?” I asked. “What if we aren’t the Sistine Chapel, we’re the Church of the Spilled Blood!?” Susan was confused. I explained what I remembered and we used our phones to pull up a few pictures on Google.
It was an epiphany, a paradigm shift in how I looked at my own identity.
I’m not a flawless masterpiece, I’m a masterpiece because of my flaws.
An artist who creates a mosaic uses a lot of broken tiles. He carefully examines each piece and finds the perfect place for it. She assembles pieces that look broken and useless into a work of art, a masterpiece.
In fact, the artist delights in using the broken tiles that I would discard. Maybe the pieces that seem small and insignificant to me are essential to him, necessary for his masterpiece.
Since that day with Susan, I have continued to feel encouraged and refreshed by this idea. I see that the broken bits in my life are being made into something beautiful.
God is using my broken pieces for an amazing mosaic.
There is freedom in this realization. I don’t have to be embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid of my brokenness because it’s part of something bigger than me.
For what it’s worth, it also means that your brokenness doesn’t scare me. God is using your broken bits too. Are you a Sistine Chapel or Church of the Spilled Blood kind of person? Can you see that God is redeeming your broken bits? I’d love to hear your story on Facebook through a Tweet or an e-mail.