Edward Fischer writes in Notre Dame Magazine (February, 1983), that a leper in Fiji (or, more correctly, a sufferer of Hansen’s Disease) followed the leading of his twisted hands. He became an internationally known artist. “My sickness I see as a gift of God leading me to my life’s work,” he said. “If it had not been for my sickness, none of these things would have happened.”
As a young girl, Jessamyn West had tuberculosis. She was so sick that she was sent away to die. During that time she developed her skill as a writer and authored numerous novels in her lifetime.
That great author Flannery O’Connor suffered various ailments – lupus struck her at 25 and she walked only with the aid of crutches for the final fourteen years of her life. She noted, however, that this illness narrowed her activities in such a way that she had time for the real work of her life, which was writing.
Some people succeed in spite of handicaps. Others succeed because of them. I am not telling you anything new when I say that our problems help to make us what we are. Those who suffer often learn the value of compassion. Those who struggle often learn perseverance. And those who fall down often teach others how to rise again. Our troubles can shape us in ways a carefree existence cannot.
A story is told of an Eastern village that, through the centuries, was known for its exquisite pottery. Especially striking were its urns; high as tables, wide as chairs, they were admired throughout the country for their strong form and delicate beauty.
Legend has it that when each urn was apparently finished, there was one final step. The artist broke it – and then put it back together with gold filigree. An ordinary urn was thus transformed into a priceless work of art. What seemed finished wasn’t, until it was broken.
So it is with people. Broken by hardships, disappointments and tragedy, they can become discouraged and cynical. But lives can also be mended. Put back together well, they won’t be just like they were before. Damaged pieces reassembled with a golden bonding of patience and love will help form a person into an exquisite masterpiece. It is as if people have to be broken before they can become whole and complete.
If you feel broken remember this – you are a work of art. As a work of art, you may never be finished, but that is the process of a lifetime. And your very brokenness serves a purpose.
Remember this, too: Every time you decide to mend, you become a little more complete. And a little more beautiful.
And so, we pray: Lord, use my brokenness to help me be a more beautiful work of art for you and your work. Amen.
Grace and Peace