Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Broken Vase

Addiction can often be picked out in a crowd. The consequences are either visible (abuse, reckless behavior, traffic accidents) or subtle (incomprehensible immaturity, being alone in a crowd, conflict avoider). If you are one and you've been around some, they can be easily spotted.

Recovery however is not as easily seen. AA is, after all, anonymous. Yes, you may witness a change in someone's character or countenance, but if you don't know the motivation you could just as easily chalk it up to "finding Jesus".

Some people think that recovery gets us ahead in the game. But the tragic truth, evidenced by the examples above, is that it only levels the playing field. Recovery removes the ball and chain so that we might, might, be able to keep up with non-addicts in a race. And that is because we are broken.

Think of a vase knocked off a table. It breaks. But it is valuable, so you fix it. You buy the best super glue you can find and you meticulously return every piece to its proper place. From a distance, the vase looks like it always did, but if you look up close you can tell something is different. It still holds water, but it will never be the same. A perfect vase might fall off a short table onto a soft carpet and survive. Not you. The fissures in your structure, though adhesed with glue, will not allow such a beating. You are now forever fragile. After all, you are broken.

But this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I once received this parable in an email:

Yes, we are broken. But that brokenness can be put to use by our Father in Heaven. We are fragile, but that makes us sensitive to the needs of others. We are fixed, and for that we are grateful to God for His grace.
A man who lived near the sea would travel every day to the shore to draw from its waters. He would carry two jars, slung over his shoulders on a long branch. Every day he would go to the shore and carry these jars back to his home. But one jar had a hole. That never stopped this man from doing the same thing, year after year. Finally a stranger stopped him and asked why doesn't he get a new jar? Surely he can tell that he's losing water on his way back to his home? The man replied that he knows about the hole and is grateful for it. He showed the stranger the path he always takes, every day, to get water and return home. Look, he said, along this path is a long trail of flowers. They would not be there if not for that I water them every day. And the journey down to the shore would be unbearable if I did not have their scents and their beauty to encourage me along the way. Without this jar, without this hole, this journey would not be worthwhile.


This post is part of Bridget Chumbly's Blog Carnival. This week's topic: Brokenness.

7 comments:

j4man said...

Frank - Thanks for the post. Although I am not in Recovery I spent 10 years working in inpatient treatment with adults and adolescents. Excellent Post with an excellent message. Thanks for sharing it.

Glynn said...

Brokenness, fargility, mending, using -- beautifulpost, Fath Frank.

Rosa said...

Thanks for the reminder honey :)

Fatha Frank said...

Thank you everyone for your comments (especially you, honey!)

Part of our routine when introducing ourselves to the group is to say why we're there. My common answer is to be ok being sober. Others say to be comfortable in their own skin. Recovery isn't sobriety, it is allowing God to transform you- to glue all the cracks and fill in the missing pieces.

Lisa notes... said...

Excellent post. We often see our brokenness only as a liability, but God uses the cracks in beautiful ways to honor him, if we allow him. Love the parable, too. Thanks for sharing.

Anne Lang Bundy said...

You are now forever fragile.

When I prayed for healing, I sensed that the raw wounds would close but leave behind ever-tender scars. I like the way you said it better, tho ...

Bridget Chumbley said...

I love that parable! Great post. Thank you.