This morning, I returned to my place of call, Gower Christian Church, after a weekend off. I spent this last weekend celebrating and carousing with two of my oldest friends (who will be serving as groomsmen), on the occasion of my bachelor party. Indeed, it was something of the last marker in my life before Caitie and I get married, thirty-two days hence.
It was fun, and it was relaxing. It was very much what I needed, having started my first pastoral call with Lent. But this morning meant a return to my church, to my office, and as every morning in my office, to my coffee pot. And as my coffee brewed, I did as I always do, and headed to the church kitchen in search of sweetener and creamer.
You can only imagine my dismay when I unlocked the door to the kitchen and discovered that, some time during the night, a shelf in one of the kitchen cupboards had collapsed, disgorging more than 300 dinner and dessert plates all over the kitchen floor, consigning several of them to nothing more than broken shards, bound for the trash can. My observation of that fact was immediately followed by what I would not be surprised to learn was the first occasion of the pastor of this church saying, “Aw, S**T,” within the confines of the Antioch Fellowship Center.
However, rather than freaking out or getting too terribly angry, I quickly suppressed my irritation, marched directly to the front desk of the church, and said to our administrator, Missy, “I could use your help for a second – we have a bit of a disaster in the kitchen.”
And so it was that we picked up the plates, swept up the broken glass (and Shop-Vac’d the floor afterwards), ran the remaining intact plates (we only lost six, total) through the commercial dishwasher, put the shelf back up, dried the plates, and put them away. The two of us working together only took about 45 minutes to finish the job – a job that would’ve taken either one of us working by ourselves probably around two and a half to three hours to accomplish.
As I sat at my desk after we were done, FINALLY drinking my coffee, I read a couple of excellent articles by friends of mine (specifically, this one by Molly Bolton and this one by Stewart Self) that reminded me that each and every person sort of has their own “cupboardful of brokenness” to deal with in their lives. What makes all the difference with regard to that brokenness is how you respond to it. With the mess in the church kitchen, I could’ve stewed in my frustration and been grumpy about it, meanwhile losing an entire day to cleaning it up; however, I chose instead to ask for help, and was done with it in less than an hour.
But the key is asking for help, and that’s something that so many people don’t do. I’ve seen it more times than I’d care to count – addicts, veterans suffering from PTSD, students unable to achieve the grades they NEED to have, a stubborn teenager who is so far underwater financially it’s not even funny (not that I would know ANYTHING about that)… there’s so many different levels of brokenness, but the response to all of them takes the same basic form – asking somebody for help.
Throughout the month of May, I will be preaching a mini-series of sermons on the call to Christian life, starting this coming Sunday with the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Each of the sermons will center on a broken person or persons who had to respond to their brokenness before they could respond to the call.
How do you respond to your brokenness? Do you stew in the frustration of a kitchen floor full of broken and dirty dishes?
I hope not. Ask for help. It might not be the easiest way, but it is the best way.