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Broken together

By Nathan Rice

They ran out of the house as soon I pulled into the driveway, raced to the vehicle, flung open the back door and jumped into the car. I drove to church as they shared the events of their week with me. Our Father’s Day together had officially begun.

We spent the morning at church, stopped for lunch, and headed to Virginia Beach to board the Rudee Rocket. The boat sped out to the Atlantic, splashing everyone with salt water as it bounced over the waves. The boat stopped to let everyone watch some dolphins before it sped back to the inlet.

We walked on the boardwalk to dry off and stopped for some carnival rides on 15th Street, where the Ferris wheel gave us all a great view of the oceanfront.

Lastly, we enjoyed ice cream cones on the boardwalk before heading back to the car.

It was a picture-perfect Father’s Day. The operator of the bumper cars said we had the “best family battle” he’d seen in a while, and a kind pedestrian took a picture of us with the waves of the ocean crashing behind us.

It was a good Father’s Day, but it was not a typical Father’s Day. I’m not their dad.

I’ve come to grips with not being a father, but there are still times when it stings. The kids with me this Father’s Day have had to deal with the fact that their father is no longer in their lives. They seem to understand this now, but they are still saddened by their absent patriarch.

I share this story in the hopes that it will help us all recognize something that we all already know. We’re all broken. Every one of us has had things happen that have left scars. All of us have had our hearts pierced at one point.

There’s no way around pain and heartbreak in this world. Life hurts. We all have different levels of pain, but we’re all broken.

Living as broken people is hard, but the way we react to our brokenness often makes things worse.

Sometimes we brood in our brokenness. We focus on nothing but the pain. We look at the shattered pieces of lives and do nothing but long for the days before we experienced the hurt.

Other times we take our brokenness out on others. We take the pain we feel, and we push it on others. Often, we take the thing that broke us and use it to break others.

This isn’t the way it should be, and it isn’t the way it has to be.

Let’s use our brokenness to help each other instead of using it to break each other more.

The lessons you learned through your pain might be exactly what someone else needs to hear when they battle something similar. This can only happen, though, when we are willing to share our brokenness.

Likewise, the broken pieces of your life may join with the broken pieces of lives around you to help everyone heal together.

I’m not sure if God has placed kids without fathers in my life to help me, or if he has placed me in their lives to help them. It’s probably a little of both.

We’re all broken, but we’re broken together. It’s time to stop using the jagged pieces of our broken lives to destroy each other. Instead, let’s put the broken pieces together to make a mosaic. Broken pieces, when arranged properly, can make a beautiful picture.

The choice is ours. Will we use the jagged pieces of our lives to cut each other, or will we work together to make a beautiful piece of art?

Nathan Rice is a Hampton Roads native and can be reached at nrice@abnb.org.