All Steve wanted for Father’s Day was the Laser Bond UV Light Fix It Kit. He liked his other gifts, but was like a kid in a candy store when he opened his new gadget. His eyes lit up as he wondered aloud what in our house might need a repair.
My favorite coffee mug broke a month ago. The handle popped off in the dishwasher, and I have been sad about it ever since. I put the handle inside the mug and moved it to a quiet corner in the kitchen. As I watched Steve’s enthusiasm fill the room, I suggested that my mug could be his first project.
Before I tell you what happened, let me tell you about the mug.
First things first, there is nothing quite like a perfect mug. It makes the whole coffee experience even better. Very few mugs achieve this feat in my life, but this mug did. The beautiful pottery has a great rim and is comfortable to hold. And it is a Young Life mug from my dear friend, Eve in Nashville.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with Young Life, it is a Christian ministry for middle and high school students. Leaders build authentic relationships with kids and share the hope of the Gospel, not only with their words, but their lives as well. My own life and faith were deeply impacted by a Young Life leader who cared about me enough to spend time with me on a regular basis and encouraged me to ask any questions I might have related to God and life. Eve pours her life into young women and loves them right where they are. They want to know more about Christ because of the way Eve loves them unconditionally.
So obviously, this mug matters to me. Every morning, it not only offers a fabulous coffee moment, but also reminds me of hope and grace and faithful friends.
So Sunday night, after Steve did his “I love this gift” dance, he went to the kitchen to find my mug. With great diligence and determination, he used that new tool to put my mug back together again. And it worked! We all sat wide eyed and excited as McKenzie held the mug in her hand by the handle and it stayed together. I carefully carried the mug back to the kitchen and set it by the coffee maker, so it would be ready for me the next morning.
Sure enough, I enjoyed one awesome cup of coffee. Until the second cup of coffee.
Steve stood next to the table, and we talked about the morning. As we talked, I picked up my mug, and next thing I knew, I was just holding the handle. Time stopped as Steve and I stared first at the mug and then at each other. Incredulous, Steve said something rude about the laser bond, but then resolved to try again after work because maybe he did something wrong. I confessed my fear about attempting another hot cup of coffee tomorrow morning.
And then, for the first time, I thought, “Maybe I will just drink out of a broken mug.”
And here’s why.
I hate brokenness. I can’t even articulate how hard it is for me to process not only all of the brokenness in the world, but also my own. I just want things to be fixed. I want to stop struggling with the same issues, I want to see redemption in the lives of those I love, and I want to stop seeing evil in the world and how it crushes us on so many levels. Read the headlines and you can literally feel the hope seeping out of your soul.
This Young Life mug always reminds me of redemption. It reminds of hope and healing and grace. It reminds of good people who love kids well and want them to know their worth. It reminds me of people who thought I was worth their time and worth hearing that God loves me. It reminds me that Jesus is with me and loves me, not because I am perfect, but because He is.
I confess that sometimes I forget this in the brokenness. I tend to get so overwhelmed by the pain I see around me, that I walk around heavy hearted and full of grief. If I am not careful, if I don’t take the time to sit in His truth, I can become a real hot mess. Just ask my friends and family.
So this morning, I thought, there will always be brokenness this side of heaven. I hate that and I just want to fix it. But sometimes even in our attempts to fix things, there is still brokenness. I might grow in one area of my life, but the next week, find myself in the same pit again…the one I thought I fixed.
So if I keep this broken mug, I see the brokenness, but the mug reminds of the Hope too. The redemption. The healing. The beauty. It is all there, just like in this life.
“If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own. What a clever place for God to hide holiness, so that only the humble and earnest will find it! A “perfect” person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond imperfection.”
I don’t know if I will ever be able to fully embrace the brokenness, but I never want to forget the grace and mercy that walks in the midst of it. Sometimes we really need to sit close to the brokenness to find the redemption in it.
And that might lead to an even better cup of coffee every morning.