Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.
Families, as I know them, are very like scrambled eggs. Now, some families look like they have no scramble, but in my deepest heart I know EVERY family has its own private pile of egg shells under the table.
Last week I spent with my intimate family. The setting is wonderful - cabins on the beach of Prince Edward Island, Canada, steps from the crystal clear north Atlantic. We spend hours walking knee deep in gentle ocean, feet squishing the crystal clean sand, no chance of cutting a foot or losing one's balance. Life is everywhere: Hermit crabs, moon snails, bald eagles, fox, and a few bats of course.
Life abounds inside as well: our very precious grandchildren - a ten year old granddaughter and two little twin girls who had their second birthday at the beach; my son Mark, who I met only three years ago and his wife, both of whom are successful scientists in their own right and partners in parenting; Steve and I and Mark's parents, Liz and Jim. We all get along with only a few dances around values and beliefs. Intentional kindness and generosity flows between us. Together we rid the world of more than a few unnecessary lobsters.
But there are also undercurrents. I feel them: times when I don't know what is happening; conversations that don't seem to be about me at all, and yet I know that my presence affects the room, just as the presence of every other person does. Sometimes when we talk it feels like we know each other, and sometimes it feels like the platform for our relationships is too small and confining. There are times I feel blind.
My heart can suddenly become flooded with hunger, with longing. Layers of hopes lay in me propped up by words that can't find a sentence to live in. So many eggs to unscramble. And the hope of unscrambling them seems, at times, utterly forlorn.
But this I am again assured of - deeply and fully assured of: there is one great divine unscrambler of eggs. He is slow. He is often unseen in his work. The One who is unscrambling my life is the One who has done it so many times before - the One who joined Ruth and Boaz, both from an ancestry of incest and failure and from their union gave Obed, David and Jesus. Scrambled lives are not lost. They are simply how we people do life. God does it differently. Unscrambling is His particular work, not ours. What a relief. My sureness of this sets me free from so many deformative patterns - manipulation, rushing the pace of grace, 'mother' martyrdom, self pity - all those kinds of thing.
With all I have learned, I own that I keep dropping eggs. I am a messy person. My kids seem to be pretty messy too. We might not be like you at all. Your family might actually have no weirdness or big egg stains on the floor. But I am guessing you are like me. Will you hear me if I say something to you? It is a GREAT RELIEF to own both the ongoing scramble of my messy life, and the fact that it will never be me who makes it all whole. I think this is what grace is. Knowing the truth and being at peace. Knowing I cannot fix our family scrambles. I cannot even fix my own soul. But that is not at all saying it won't be beautifully restored in ways beyond my wildest imagination.
On Prince Edward Island I discovered that my heart can hold a load of unrealized hope and still be free not to manipulate to make any of it come to be. I can maintain a laughing soul even with a very large pile of egg shells crunching under my feet. I experience a beautiful freedom in knowing who I am, and knowing that I am not the answer to anything that needs to happen in anyone's life. I feel free to smile, to love, to share what is reasonably mine to give, and every now and then to drop an egg at the most inappropriate time. Surely this is grace.