He was collapsed on the floor heaving sobs too big for a child of six. I scooped him up into my arms beside me in the bed. As he fought to pull away, I held him tighter. His daddy was taking our oldest two boys on a trip and he was left behind to stay with me and his 5 year old sister. He was inconsolable. He had reason to be. The past two years of life had ravaged our family. There had been no sense of calm or routine. People flowed in and out of our lives with such constancy that our little ones had, at times, wondered if they were replaceable. As I lay in bed that day, squeezing my littlest dude tightly, doing my best to speak peace and truth and hope into the broken heart of a weary 6 year old boy, I thought of a nursery rhyme I’ve known since I was a child.
“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.”
As a little girl, when I heard this rhythmic story, I was saddened by poor Humpty, lying broken on the ground, unfixable. As an adult, I find myself wondering why someone let an egg climb on top of a wall in the first place. Why didn’t anyone stop him? He was obviously a fragile egg in tiny, cute clothing. How could they not see?
Now more than ever, as silly as it may sound, this simple nursery rhyme has impacted the way I respond to the people I encounter. When I’m out and about, making contact with humanity, I remember Humpty, I remember my weeping littlest dude, I remember the cancer we’re fighting that is unseen and unknown to most; and that remembrance helps me to look beyond what is seen and strive to see people. Not just to look at them, but to SEE them, to understand their needs and attend to them, to consider their past as I look at their present, to tell them they are known and sought. Our sweet six year old wasn’t weeping over a missed camping trip all those months ago. His tears were from a deep place of longing, of needing, to be seen. He needed to be acknowledged for the fragile creature that he is. He needed someone to look past the disguise he was wearing and see his true form; a human fully breakable. He is not alone in that.
I suspect, like him and like me and like Humpty, you’re a fragile egg as well, though you’ve done your best to cover that truth up with your vest and pants and cute little hat. You’ve built walls and later scrambled to the top of them to see what you’ve blocked out on the other side. From where you sit, perched atop a towering wall, you can see everyone. They are all moving around you, glancing up at you but taking no real notice of you. They’re living their lives and doing their jobs and waving to you as they walk by. You smile obligingly, but on the inside you are screaming, “CAN’T YOU SEE HOW FRAGILE I AM?! I’m an EGG! If I let go of this wall to wave to you, I will lose my grip, fall down, and shatter into a thousand pieces!”
But you let go.
And you wave.
Because not waving would reveal something of yourself you’ve worked carefully to conceal…you’re a fragile egg. You are utterly breakable.
And so you fall and you break into a thousand tiny pieces of yourself, your disguise falling off as you lose your assumed form. The people walking by as you tumble helplessly to the ground startle as your body makes contact with the earth. Some stop and stare, others tuck their heads and walk by as if you aren’t really there. Some openly gawk at your true form, afraid to approach for fear of what others will think if they get the raw goop of your reality on their own perfectly pressed vests. One by one, people pass by trying not to see you. Perhaps, eventually, a man walks by, sees you wounded on the sidewalk, and calls for help. “It’s too late”, you think. “I’ve been here for hours. Too much of myself has spilled out and run into the street only to be trampled on by passersby. I’m in too many fragments to ever be restored.”
Can I just tell you, dear reader, that you are not alone in your fragility? Will you hear me when I say you are not broken beyond repair? Undone? Yes. Mendable? Oh, Yes.
Moments have come in life where I have felt like Humpty, a fragile egg perched precariously on the top of a wall. I’ve practically resided there over the past few weeks since brain cancer became part of our story. I think, if we were all being really honest, we would all admit we have felt before, or do feel now, this same sort of undoneness, of frailty. We are not alone in our brokenness.
In the nursery rhyme, all the king’s horses and men were sent to help Humpty to no avail. But where was the king himself, I wonder? The loveliness of God’s story for us is that He did not stop at sending others to help us, but came Himself. Mankind lay shattered to bits. We were fragile beyond our own recognition. We built walls and climbed walls, and fell off of walls. We were the cause of our own demise. We were not good for ourselves. We were not good to God. We were foolish, self-serving, blind. And yet, He came. He knelt beside humanity and carefully picked up each broken piece of ourselves. He reassembled us, using His own flesh to bind our broken bodies back together. We were made whole by His sacrifice and willingness.
We need this truth. This real, deep, life altering truth of Jesus. He was not just a man. He was not just a good teacher. He was not just a magnetic leader. He IS. He is God who redeems. He is God who restores. He is God who binds the broken pieces of your shattered life together when everyone else walks by you shaking their heads at the hopeless tragedy of your fragmented life. He is God. He is GOD. And He is good.
Remember, dearest. Remember. Remember the fragility of your own heart, of your own self, and let that remembrance pour out to others as grace.
We all have our Humpty Dumpty moments, after all.
Jesse is still doing well. It will be a long road to recovery, but he is handling everything with grace and humor. We’re resting a lot, spending intentional time loving our kids, and enjoying doing the everyday things we’ve done for years as a family before cancer. We have a follow up appointment on Monday, and should receive pathology results then. Will you uphold us in prayer, friends? We’re striving to keep our eyes fixed on the eternal Hope who is Jesus and not on the temporary and fading hopes of this life, and it is oh so difficult. Will you also uphold our little ones in prayer? All of this is hardest on their tender souls. We want them to see Jesus in this, to know Him more deeply and to experience His goodness and mercy even in the midst of this struggle. God has been very good to us all along the way, faithfully giving us everything we need in every moment. In so many ways, His expressions of love have come through you all. I cannot say enough how grateful we are for each one of you.