Sitting on the back of my stove is one of my favorite mugs: the Charlotte, North Carolina mug from Starbucks’ You Are Here collection. Due to my fabulous dish-washing skills, there is a small chip in the rim.
I’m sure bad words were uttered when said chip occurred. And I saved the remnant–it’s sitting inside the cup on the back of my stove where it’s rested for the past several weeks as I’ve wondered how to reattach it so the mug can once again perform it’s purpose as a coffee-delivery device. I can’t let it go.
The logical choice would be to take the mug out to the recycling bin. Ten years ago I’d have made it a pen holder in my coffee-themed office, but that office no longer exists. The mug doesn’t complement my current decor.
So it sits and waits and piles on the guilt each time I glance at it.
It’s no shock to me, my attachment to that mug. After three years, nine months and a certain number of days (I had it calculated a year ago) of not seeing my best friend, we met up in Charlotte last fall for a weekend and she gave me the mug. I drank from it at least five times a week for the past year, a constant reminder of our friendship and that weekend and how lucky I am to have such a friend.
I can hear her voice as I write this. “Dude. It’s a freaking mug. Throw it away already.”
I can also hear her understanding my dilemma. She knows how I think and would empathize.
You see, I have a tendency to hold onto brokenness, searching for a way to fix it. To fix broken relationships, broken pasts, broken systems. Letting go is not a strength of mine. It feels like an admission of failure.
Failure to make that person happy. Failure to make right choices. Failure to care for a mug. Failure, failure, failure.
But that’s not all. Often I let my brokenness define me. “This is who I am,” I seem to let it say.
My “broken” parts remind me that I’m stronger than I know. I’ve overcome a lot–and hidden it well, so you might not see it. Haven’t you done the same? Because I think sometimes in our efforts to be strong we hide our weaknesses and actually end up diminishing our strengths. It is in contrasting the bad with the good that we can recognize the blessings.
You know, now that I think of it, I might just save that mug and drink from it, chip or no chip, as a reminder to myself. Yes, I have broken parts, but I am so much more than that. Where I am tempted to focus on the brokenness, I will choose instead to focus on the journey that truly is my story. The story of odd beginnings and strange middles and joy and sorrow and grief and triumph and growth–lots of growth.
So yes, I will both release my brokenness and celebrate it. Rather than define it as failure, I will re-frame it as color and contrast. Perhaps by embracing my story I can help you celebrate yours.
What part of your story are you going to choose to celebrate today?