The Celebration of Bruises

Our family’s daily morning exodus is quite a sight. There are only four of us, two of which are still quite small, but there’s a ton of gear to carry, shoes to tie, and hugs and kisses to dish out. It’s a jumbled mess, but we love it. Our first tease of fall hit a few weeks ago, making us unreasonably excited to step outside. The cool air gave little Ella some extra energy, and when you are that small, enthusiasm and joy are best expressed through squeals and running in circles. The momentum of it all got the best of her and the circles ended with a double-knee-plant in the driveway.

As her look of shock turned to tears, her Daddy scooped her up as only a Daddy can. All at once, Abigail and I dropped the mounds of gear piled in our arms to join Daddy in pouring out comfort and kisses. David and I did what all parents do in these moments: distracted her with cheerios and silly songs while we tried to clean the gravel from her bloody knees. As her tears dried, all our distraction shenanigans turned to cheers and affirmations for earning her FIRST Frozen bandaids - a major rite of passage for the King girls. The three of us huddled in close around Ella as we placed a prized bandaid on each knee. Abigail said it best (while clapping and literally jumping up and down - totally not a surprise if you know Abigail), “Ella! You got your first Frozen bandaids! We are so proud of you!”

But the best part of it all was watching Ella’s face. Her expression moved from pain to fear, from sadness to confusion, and finally to innocent pride. Somehow, in her own little way, she understood those Frozen bandaids represented more than just Olaf and Anna.

Oh, friends. When did we stop celebrating scraped knees and bruises? At what age do tumbles and missteps turn from the process of learning to fatal errors? When exactly does shame start to overshadow the joy of Frozen bandaids? When did we first believe making mistakes makes us a mistake?

I’m fully aware it’s not as simple as a double-knee-plant in the driveway. Our bruises and scrapes are deeper, bigger, and last longer than a few moments. Sometimes those moments, those years, wound our souls. Sometimes they wound others. But where exactly is the dividing line between what God’s grace is wide enough to cover and what it’s not? Where does the opportunity for redemption and hope run out? Who decides what sin is small enough to come back from and what is just too big, too bad, too much? When did we start to believe we are the only ones with difficult stories and painful pasts, with moments we aren’t proud of, with bruised souls and broken dreams? When did we decide those things disqualify us from belonging, from impacting the world, from having a seat at the table? 

In a world full of differences and agendas, our brokenness is the most common ground we have. When God finds us in all our tears and brokenness, He scoops us up like only a Daddy can, and He makes us brand new. And those heartbreaking moments, those devastating blows, those terrible decisions become stories of healing, redemption, and overcoming. Stories other broken people need to hear. 

Friends, please hear this.

There are plenty of seats at His table, and it’s not like there’s one lonely chair at the far end for the broken person who slips in through the back door. No, no. The seats are only for broken people.

JOIN the conversation by commenting below: How has hearing others' stories of life's bruises and brokenness encouraged you? What would it take for you to share your stories with others?