Thursday, April 11, 2019

Hiding all the Broken Things - by Sara K. Parker


I rarely take baths anymore. They’re too time consuming. Also, I always make the water too hot and can never stay in long enough to make the effort worthwhile. An added deterrent is that our master bathroom does not have a locking door, and I’m always nervous that an unsuspecting kid will walk in on me.

But recently, I took a bath.

Lovely, right? Clean tub, comfy pillow, pumpkin-spice scented candle and a hand towel at the ready. The water is the perfect temperature, the bubbles divine, my phone off, and I’ve got two books to choose from because I couldn’t decide which one to bring with me.

I took the perfect picture, and then I enhanced it with filters. Finally, I cropped it and adjusted the lighting so that it would be post-worthy. Are you rolling your eyes? Because I am.

Here’s what you don’t see in this picture:

Nice view, huh? This hole has been in our wall for approximately seven years, just waiting for me to cut two squares of drywall like my dad taught me to do, pop them into place, seal them in, and repaint. Such a simple job, and cheap. That’s why we haven’t called someone to take care of it. It’s an eyesore, but it’s in our master bathroom. No one sees it. Except for me, every day – and it stares directly at me on the rare occasion that I take a bath.

Want to see what else I cut out of the picture?

That’s a crack in the window next to the bathtub. It’s been there since we bought the house in 2011. We didn’t notice it until after we moved in, and we never fixed it.

This towel rack is killing me. I gave up on fixing it a couple years ago, and now we just sling our towels over the glass door of the shower. This is such a simple project. I could easily fill those holes and touch up the paint and reinstall a new fixture. I could also easily call a plumber to fix the two bathroom sinks (not pictured) that have been leaking for years. Instead, we’ve just been living with the problems and trying to ignore them.

I waffled about whether I should post the photos of the broken things in our master bathroom. It’s kind of embarrassing. Why haven’t we taken care of the mess? There just always seems to be something more pressing to deal with – and more visible.

My husband and I have an inordinate amount of experience with broken things. I could probably write a book on the topic, come to think of it. ;) One almost unbelievable example happened the weekend our daughter finished her cancer treatment.

After she rang the end-of-treatment bell at MD Anderson Cancer Center, we celebrated with friends and then went to dinner. On the way home a little after 10 p.m., our eight-year-old van died.

(That’s a grainy pic of the kids waiting on our ride. One child is to the left, doing pushups. Not sure why…)

Turns out, the transmission had given out. If you know anything about cars, you know a transmission is not a cheap fix.

The next day, since our van was dead, I was driving our old 2002 Chevy Impala on an errand, and it started overheating.

We’d been having nonstop trouble with both cars for a couple of years, but we couldn’t imagine chucking both of them and buying two new cars. One income, four kids, and a very big medical bill were standing in the way of dealing properly with the problem. But with two dead cars, we needed transportation. So we gave the Chevy away… (I was sad, as it had been the first car I had ever purchased):

…and we put the money into repairing the Dodge Grand Caravan. Then, we bought this baby:

It was not convenient when our two cars broke down. It was not cheap to replace the transmission in our van. It was sad to get rid of the Impala. It hurt our monthly budget when we had to buy a new vehicle. But can you see the relief on my face?

Plus, we really had no choice. We’d put band-aids on the problems for years, constantly bringing the cars in for repairs – which had probably cost more money and time in the long run than was wise. Sometimes we do the same thing with the painful things in our lives.

Sometimes, we just find ourselves sitting in our pain and brokenness, applying band-aids of tears and food and avoidance and all kinds of other vices. We wallow in our brokenness. We stare endlessly at the hole in the wall, the leaking sinks, the broken towel rack, the cracked glass. We examine every angle of our broken hearts, lost dreams, raging disappointments, biting failures, critical losses, deep betrayals – and let the pain seep in. Then, we let it stay.

When I was at my counseling appointment this week, my counselor brought out this large sign about the eight basic emotions: anger, fear, pain, joy, passion, love, shame, and guilt.

We discussed the fact that these emotions are not bad emotions. In fact, these emotions are tools. More importantly, they are gifts. Take a look at Pain. That’s what we feel in our brokenness, right?

Now, take a look at the gifts of pain: healing, growth, awareness. It’s hard to recognize any opportunity in the midst of pain, however. Sometimes, we’d just rather wallow in our own misery than do the hard work of climbing out of it. Usually, it takes some sort of catalyst to push us out of our pain and into a search for some kind of lasting relief.

About a year after the cars died, we needed a fence.  When a freak storm passed through our neighborhood, an entire section of our fence came down, tearing apart our little shed with it.

This was not something we could hide from our neighbors like our broken master bathroom. It was a complete eyesore. Also, we have three wild dogs we consider pets, and we needed to keep them safely in our yard.

So, I called three contractors for quotes to fix the fence. We looked at our finances and decided how to pay for it. We scheduled the repair date. Problem solved. And solving that problem made me think about how long I’d been staring at our broken bathroom, the stress of it building each day. After all, with the time and money it took to get this section of our fence replaced, we could have easily fixed all the brokenness in our bathroom and probably painted over that diarrhea-brown for good measure.

So, why fix the fence and not the bathroom?

Two reasons: urgency and visibility.

It is when our pain becomes both unbearable and visible that healing can finally begin. Sometimes, we feel like we are functioning just fine, despite our pain. We keep it hidden because maybe we are ashamed. Or maybe we just don’t want to be the sad friend anymore. Maybe it seems to feel better to stuff it down than dredge it up. Also, we convince ourselves it costs far less if we just tote our brokenness around with us, alone.

But once we hold space with one another and share our burdens, healing can begin.

'Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken." - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 ESV
In my upcoming release, Security Measures, heroine Triss Everett has been carrying a painful secret for so long that she can’t even recognize how it has shaped her entire life. When that secret comes to light, when she shares that burden of pain, healing finally begins.

It is my prayer that you will have the courage to share your hidden pain – first with the Heavenly Father, who brings all comfort, and then with a trusted friend. Bonus if you share with two friends. :) And if your pain runs deep and long and haunts you on the daily, I encourage you to also seek a professional counselor to help guide you to a constructive path of healing.

We only have to look at the cross to see the truth behind the concept of healing through brokenness. Before Jesus was arrested, he prayed in desperation that there could be another way to redeem mankind. He was completely alone. His trusted friends couldn’t keep their tired eyes open long enough to keep praying with him. Then, His body was broken for all to see – the ultimate sacrifice with unfathomable pain. But through that brokenness? Healing. Redemption. New hope.

Have you experienced growth or healing through brokenness? Or are you still searching? Comment to be entered to win this tray of Easter sweets, plus your choice between a signed copy of Dying to Remember or an IOU for Security Measures when I get my ARCs in a couple of months.

In the meantime, come visit me on Facebook for more encouragement, updates, and occasional giveaways.


  1. Sara, I loved your post....LIFE, huh!? You inspire me, and I love your books. I can't wait for Security Measures. I am checking library today to see if they have a copy of DTR....surprisingly, local library has lots of LI books. Otherwise, I am dl it onto my Kindle.
    Keep up the great writing and take care!

    1. Thank you, Jackie! Hope you find the book at the library!

  2. Wonderful post, Sara. I know about living in an unfixed house, but life happens here so little things can wait.

  3. What a great post, Sara. We could probably go head to head on broken things. I've got a few things at my house to share and one big one outside, since our front steps decided to crumble recently. It's funny you writing about baths. My teenaged daughter is a bath afficiando. She loves them. She buys all the fancy bath bombs and sequesters herself in there for a long time pampering herself. It's her version of going to the spa lol. Blessings.

    1. I used to be the same way with baths! :)) And yes, the list of broken things in our house is far longer than what I disclosed here!

  4. I so enjoyed this post and the insight you shared. �� you are amazing.

  5. Love your posts, Sara. They are so inspiring. Those broken things in our lives that we must deal with are hard. Whether it's a broken window, transmission, or spirit. It's the challenges those broken things put in our lives that help us become better, stronger people. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. You’re so right, Mary. And thank you for he encouragement.

  6. I enjoyed your post. It brought me much encouragement.

    1. I’m so glad. Thank you for the kind words.

  7. Loved your post...and the sign featuring emotions and their gifts! I've saved the pic and plan to study it in detail. Coming through a hard time and overcoming our fear, pain, whatever, does makes us stronger. I never enjoy the struggle, but I always rejoice when the storm passes and I'm still standing. :)

    I have a leaky faucet that needs to be fixed! UGH!

    1. I was fascinated by the list - especially the fear part because that’s what I tend to deal with a lot. Looking at the gifts associated with each emotion was very eye-opening for me. And ugh - leaky faucets are annoying!!

  8. Hi Sara, Everything you've said is so true. I thank you for your transparency. And I'm not talking about your home repair needs, we all have a list of those, but the heart repair needs. I have hidden my feelings about a lot of things, not wanting to be the "sad friend", as you said. Having at least one good friend who cares and understands truly makes all the difference.
    I'm all caught up on your books, so I'm looking forward to how Triss deals with her painful secret. Hope all is well in your world (outside of home repairs, lol) and you and your family have a great Easter!

    1. I completely understand what you mean, Tracey. I absolutely hate bringing people down and being the needy friend!! But I’m coming to realize that we all go through periods of pain and loss - and it is a privilege to be there for one another through the good and the bad. Thanks also for reading my books. :) I grew quite attached to Triss and had the most fun writing her story.


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