Let me tell you a little story.
An elderly woman had two large pots. Each pot hung on the ends of a pole, which she carried across her shoulders. Every day, she used this device to carry water to her home.
One of the pots was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water. The other had a deep crack in it and leaked. At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.
For a full two years this situation occurred daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water. Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do.
After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the woman one day by the stream, saying, “I am ashamed of myself because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house.”
The old woman smiled and replied, “Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walked back home you watered them and made them grow. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table and give to my friends and neighbors. Without you being just the way you are, there would not have been this special beauty to grace our homes and lives.”
Sometimes, it’s the “cracks,” or what we perceive as imperfections, in this reality that create something unexpected and beautiful.
To be honest, I have a lot of cracked days… days when I feel like I’m not able to accomplish what seems effortless for others. Days when I feel like I’m not pulling my weight on the team and that I’m more of a burden than a help. There are days when I feel like I’ve worked myself to exhaustion and I have little to nothing tangible to show for it. Days when my language skills get in the way, or the fact that I just can’t physically do something that others can do, or (the worst) when my north American cultural norms butt up against Spanish culture and my expectations end up having a throw-down with reality (I always lose that fight!). Not kidding, I have a LOT of cracked days!
Maybe that’s why the story of the water bearer and the pots made me cry when I first heard it. Sometimes you just can’t see through your own imperfections and realize that they are the parts of you that make you valuable and special.
Looking back, I can see how God has transformed and used the cracked parts of my life for good. Hard times in my youth, family struggles, professional setbacks, parenting tough spots, and even things that seemed like utter failures and disappointments… God has eventually turned those in to “flowers beside the path” and allowed me to use them to share with others. My hard days eventually became teaching points. My brokenness and darkness has given me great depths of empathy and compassion for others as they go through those times. Even the days that don’t seem all that bad or hard, but they just seem ho-hum or unproductive or slow - God has found the tiny grain of goodness in those days and used it. I know because on the seemingly average, nothing-special kinds of days, someone always ends up telling me, “I love seeing you, your hugs are the best” or “I’ve been seeing you play with the dogs every day. It always makes me happy.” God uses the normal (and the broken) to do the extraordinary and shine light for others.
Our cracks and brokenness and our normal averageness allow something to change and ultimately make life much richer and more interesting. Every day and every crack has it’s own special purpose and potential.
So, are you feeling a little cracked today? I say, “hallelujah for the cracks!” Who’s with me?!
The Cracked Pot story is now the feature story that we use in the La Posada care ministry. Lots of ministry workers, pastors, CCWs and humanitarian aid folks come to us feeling broken and cracked, and wondering if there is any way to repair and restore and be useful again. The Cracked Pot story is a beautiful example of how God can use our perfectly imperfect selves for good.
2 Corinthians 4: 7-18 Treasure in Jars of Clay
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, 14 knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. 15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
16 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. 17 For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, 18 as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Who am I? In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a Southern Living / Martha Stewart wannabe, a soccer mom, and a short term mission team coordinator / intern director for missions in Mexico... you name it, I probably tried it!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! We have three incredible children... two adult boys who live in Texas, and the Sarah (14) lives with us in whatever country we are serving. I'm still teaching, still taking photos, still leading teams and mentoring, I just do it all in full-time service now! And I'm working hard at giving Southern Living and Martha Stewart a run for their money! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers and immigrant peoples, writing, and trying to figure out what life looks like for a Texas girl serving Christ in Southern Europe. Life in His service is AWESOME! I'm happy to share it with you here... Enjoy!