I have a broken piece of a coke bottle that has spent a major part of its life tumbling in a river. My brother found this treasure for me in West Virginia as he stretched his legs on a long trip, and it’s one of my favorite pieces. I’ll often play with this piece as I talk on the phone, feeling its slick smoothness on the inside contrasting with its tumbled, textured smoothness on the outside.
As it lies in my hand I study it, noting each chip and scratch. All the broken edges are smooth and worn, and in places you can see both black and white dirt that has been ground into the glass, and I compare it with my life. I’m gentler now because life has tumbled me along until it has worn off the sharp places. At some point this piece of glass has hit something hard enough to cause a series of chips, though they’re worn smooth now, and it makes me think of Terry’s death, because while that took some chunks out of me it’s not as noticeable now. The smaller chipped place is from hurting for my children as they learn life’s lessons. And that ding over there by the edge is the transmission going out in my car.
Yet look at how smooth and beautiful it is! The rough places have been worn off and I love its soothing green color. I feel smoothly able to walk in joy. Tumbling around in the sands of laughter smooths out places in our lives quicker than anything else.
Many would say that this piece of glass is worthless and wonder that anyone would even pick it up. But in my eyes, it’s beautiful. Much more valuable than the whole bottle, fragile and common. This piece is unique. Everything that could break off is pretty much gone. That’s how God sees us. It doesn’t matter how the world views us, in God’s eyes we bring pleasure and we’re beautiful.
It takes a long time to create a tumbled, worn smooth piece of glass. It depends on where each piece is tumbled, whether more in sand or on rocks or just caught on a rock with water flowing over it. Our lives are like that.
Some weeks are busy, some are intense, and others are peaceful. My life has been busy this month, my brothers have been here for a rare visit and now a longtime friend is here for a few days. I spent the weekend in Ashville, NC with my daughter and two others and even though I’ve been to the Biltmore several times it’s always a thrill to see it again. Life isn’t perfect, but I’m letting God smooth over the chips and dings, making me more resilient to letting life get to me.
We all begin as a shiny new coke bottle that looks just like the others, it’s the tumbling through life that brings out our beauty and uniqueness. Life bumps away the parts that we need to let go of, smoothing and shaping us. We often think that once we’re broken we can never be whole again, we’re missing parts of ourselves that washed away and were lost forever, but what God sees isn’t a piece of broken coke bottle, he sees the glory shining from a person who is strong, smooth, interesting, and “whole.” Whole in a way that is complete, whatever the piece is that is left after the tumbling.
You might feel like you’ve lost parts of who you are, or that you’re too broken or jagged or lost to have much worth, but someone out there is collecting these beautiful pieces of tumbled glass. And God looks at you and smiles.