Sunday, August 19, 2012
The Broken Ones
By Rick Marschall
Special to ASSIST News Service
SWARTZ CREEK MI (ANS) -- When my sisters and I were children, there was a stretch of Christmas mornings that provided a 55 Walker Avenue version of Hollywood. Our father had a new movie camera and blindingly bright, hot floodlights, and each year he wanted to film us coming down the stairs, acting surprised to see presents under the tree, and laugh like maniacs as we opened them. Every year there would be a little glitch, or a detail shy of his director’s-eye perfection; and we invariably re-staged the scene multiple times. After the fifth “take” or so, the surprise was hard to feign, including over the presents we ultimately were permitted to open.
It was a little tedious, frankly, for us children. But such are the demands of show business. Ah, the burdens of being a star, even of amateur 8-mm home movies. We laugh about it now. Dad meant the best, wanting to create instant memories. Those few years actually stand out from all the other years of orgiastic wrapping-paper frenzy. Home movie cameras were new toys for guys like Dad; and, frankly, so was fatherhood. Part of the fun of life is trying to program life, and another part of the fun of life is when the “programming” doesn’t quite work out -- coping, rolling, and watching memories create themselves.
Another, more common, rite of passage in childhood and parenthood is the faulty programming in finding the “perfect” present at gift-giving times. How many parents have noticed (and, I hope, eventually laughed about) the ultimately futile planning, or the anticipated delight over some gift, that falls flat? Perhaps the boy had been asking for a certain toy, or the girl was wishing for a certain doll; maybe they saw things in friends’ houses, or in stores, or, God help us, television commercials. Then comes Christmas morning, or their birthdays, and...
... the reaction is indifference. Worse yet, for parents-as-directors, even without cameras in tow, is when the child takes more interest in the packaging than the gift, like when the box becomes a train or an ersatz doll house. How many times does it happen? A boy receives an action figure, but reverts to his time-worn Teddy Bear at, literally, the end of the day. A little girl receives the fanciest of dolls; but she winds up dragging around, and snuggling with, her beat up Raggedy Ann. Sometimes the most precious of toys and dolls are even ones that are cast-offs, the ones that were found and “rescued.”
But there is something life-affirming in those tendencies, not just because we can see kids asserting their preferences and thinking about choices, making little declarations of independence, a good thing for parents to see.
I believe that when children make such choices -– the beat-up over the shiny; the broken over the new, things needing patching up because they are not “perfect” -– they exhibit a spirit that God plants in each of us. He wants to nurture certain impulses, and have us encourage it in others too, especially our children.
That spirit is the spirit of charity (whose biblical meaning, before King James translators took a whack at it, is “love”) and of service to others. I believe that the spirit motivating a child to cherish a beat-up Teddy will often manifest itself in that child, a few years later when an older child -– and God help us, we should all be such children -– praying, say, for lost souls. Caring for hurting neighbors. And the oppressed and persecuted. Doing missions work across the world, or supporting it close by, or practicing it with neighbors. And to strangers they meet.
And that child who cherishes a broken doll and loves it and tries to mend it, will grow up, with our nourishment and encouragement, to care for the broken ones she will meet in life. People in jeopardy who seek her out, or whom she seeks and finds. Life’s cast-aways. She will be a doctor or a nurse or a teacher or a care-giver or some sort of volunteer. She will not be reluctant, but will rather embrace, addicts and victims of abuse.
Broken ones. Jesus came to fix the Broken Ones. And even if we have not been, say, persecuted for our faith, or are victims of abuse -– or even have not been persecutors or abusers ourselves -– we still need mending, every one of us. We are all broken. Are there enough “menders” to embrace a broken world?
Jesus was a carpenter who mended broken bodies. And He was the Great Physician who ministered to invisible souls. Holy irony. But these actions are two of the many ways we are to “imitate” Christ. When it is done for the sake of Christ, with His message as part of the caring, we make a gift of the best present anyone can receive. This should be the ultimate motivation for loving each other.
Tend to the broken ones. In life’s home movies, we find ourselves, gratefully, taking direction from God. To become “stars” -– but stars in His crown, alongside our fellow once-brokens and patched-up neighbors.
+ + +
The “theme” for this message, its inspiration, is the great song “The Broken Ones,” by the Talley Trio. In it (and the music video by James and Angela Rowe) we follow a little girl who, indeed, found a tattered Raggedy Ann doll and cared for it despite its missing arm and dangling button-eye. Fast forward to the girl as an ER nurse, caring for a 16-year-old hopeless girl, a battered addict. caring for Broken Ones is to follow the Perfect One.
This week my little (one pound, 11-ounce) granddaughter Sarah, born at 24 weeks, teeters between life and death. Her life is fragile enough, but a day after being born she suffered lung and brain hemorrhages. God is in control, and His mercy prevails. In the NICU, hour by hour, however, His hands ARE the doctors and nurses, caring for the Broken Ones.
** You may republish this story with proper attribution.
Send this story to a friend. Share
This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.