broken stuff.

my mom is a fixer.

i think she got it from my grandpa, who is a self-professed “tinker-er.” he is the one who takes an abstract idea in his mind, and a few pieces of scraps he has in his garage, and builds something out of nothing.

he was raised during the great depression, and he always said that everything could be useful in some way.

my mom took that and adapted it.

i would come home from school, and find her at the kitchen table, bent intently over scattered pieces. one day it was the toaster. it stopped heating up, and she knew that if she pulled it all apart and looked at it, she could figure out why.

another day it would be a stereo. she happened to hear me saying that i wanted one for my room, so she was walking by a garage sale and saw one that worked pretty well, all except the radio.

she was convinced that it could be worked with. just a few tweaks, and it’d play my favorite station.

the fascinating thing is: she was often right.

sure, she had a few duds. some things, regardless of her patience, focus, and unwillingness to quit, just wouldn’t work again.

but more often than not, she was successful. i’d come back a few hours later, astonished to see a working appliance. with a few dents and some wires sticking out, but functioning nonetheless.

i was always impressed.

even yesterday.

plumbing issues are never convenient, but yesterday was a fiasco. my toilet overflowed and made a huge mess. i attempted to fix it, but in the process i managed to crack the cover of my toilet reservoir into pieces. i called my mom, frantic, saying that i had to get to work and could she possibly help.

she said she would.

a few hours later, sitting at my desk, she sent a picture to my phone. it was my bathroom, clean and looking like new. i was SO happy.

what i didn’t know was this:

after a 9 hour day, i came home and inspected her work. turns out she had taken the shattered porcelain and fit it back together using wood glue (i guess it was all i had handy) and masking tape.

on the tape, she wrote in ballpoint pen, “Janelle, you are loved.”

i’m unashamed to admit, i welled up with tears.

because the truth is, it’s easy to forget about things that are broken. our culture has created so many disposable items, if something breaks, it’s not difficult to purchase a new one.

we toss out the old, broken item, and move on.

i can’t help but wonder if it’s the wrong perspective.

perhaps the inclination not to give up on broken things extends to people as well.

there are a lot of broken people.

as a social worker, i see quite a few.

i don’t ever want to think that a person is disposable.

i know i’ve been broken.

and i’m very grateful that God has never given up on trying to fix me.

and the love that my mom showed me by taking the time to fix the mess of my broken toilet, is a picture in my life of how God loves me.

He’s fixed a lot more than a broken toilet. He’s fixed me from the inside out, and that’s a pretty big job. i’m really impressed that He hasn’t given up yet, because i am sure that there’s a lot more work to be done.

but i can hear His words throughout the entire process.

“Janelle, you are loved.”

perhaps the most important thing i’ve learned from my mom is this: there’s nothing that’s broken that isn’t worth trying to fix.

and God loves me enough to try and fix me.

and i can’t help but think He feels this way about everyone, not just me.

and maybe it’s not the most glamorous thing in the world to have a toilet that is pieced together with wood glue and masking tape.

but it’s kind of a work of art.



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