This morning, on facebook, I posted a photo of a little ceramic angel I bought at Goodwill. Had I kept last years New Years resolution #23, (learn to import pictures) her sweet little face would accompany this entry.
Last December as I was shopping Goodwill for an ugly Christmas sweater for a party, I found this ceramic angel in the holiday section. It was hard to see her features, because she was covered in gold spray paint. Something about her spoke to me. I love a project, so at 99 cents, I placed her in my cart. Once home, I got out nail polish remover and worked to remove the gold paint. A few cotton balls later, the little angel was restored to her former glory. The glaze had protected every one of her sweet features. Pleased, I placed her near the kitchen sink to keep me company in December.
In November we moved to a new place. The second story of a 100 year old house. I love old. I remember when I was doing one of the walk throughs, thinking about how great my vintage Christmas decorations would fit in this place.
On December 1st, I started unpacking decorations. The little angel was nestled in with stockings and aprons. (When I packed her away last year, I remember thinking they'd keep her safe and warm--we had bonded in that kitchen over all those batches of cookies.) It was hard to find the perfect place for her. She didn't fit with the nutcrackers, or my collection of vintage snowmen. I decided to put her next to a pink poinsettia on a little white table. That lasted a couple of days. I have a rearranging gene and moved her to another table where pink vintage glass ornaments could keep her company. As I was fussing around getting the angel vignette all perfect, she slipped out of my hand and fell to the hard woods with a clunk. I felt my heart sink. I looked down and one wing had broken off. Only it wasn't a clean break. Bits of ceramic pieces were strewn about. Handy with a glue gun, I decided I could use parts of her in a future craft project. Then my other dominant gene (stubborn Norwegian) kicked in and I sought out the super glue. After patiently piecing her wing together, I stood back and viola! She was almost as good as new. Back to the poinsettia table.
A few nights later, as Kitty was making noise for attention at 3 a.m., we heard a crash. Kitty had knocked the table over. Craig delivered the bad news....The angel's wing had broken again. In the same place.
The next morning, I found the superglue and went to work. This time I put the angel out of Kitty's path.
Over the holiday break I spent time reading a book by Brene Brown titled The Gifts of Imperfection. I finished the book last night. At 3:00 a.m., Kitty did her usual bit (scratching on something to get our attention.) I couldn't get back to sleep and started thinking about the To Do list I had put off all week. At the top of the list is putting away decorations. For some reason, the angel came to mind and it dawned on me.
Sometimes God gives us a subtle nudge and sometimes he whacks us upside the head. This was one of those whack upside the head moments. The little angel was a metaphor for me. I started to think about her blonde pigtails tied with red ribbons and recalled a picture of me that was taken when I was 5. In the portrait I am wearing pigtails also tied with red ribbons. Smiling sans my two front teeth, I realize that was the age I began to fill a bag with heavy bricks that I would carry around with me until this year. I call it the bricks of shame.
Brene Brown defines shame as:
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love
From Dr. Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection, Page 6.
Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy--the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.