by Emily Conrad
If you’d asked me yesterday, I would’ve told you my sewing machine has been broken for years.
This rummage sale find stitched along happily at first but then started breaking thread. Since I only sew occasionally, paying for a repair seemed more investment than it was worth. Declaring the machine broken, I packed it away in a box.
I kept it in that box for years. I wanted a sewing machine, but despite my intentions to invest in a repair, I never followed through.
When an obstacle stands in the way of something good and valuable, I, for one, can be quick to pack away my blessings, declaring them broken.
My dream of writing full-time? We couldn’t afford it. I stuffed it in box labelled, “Broken Calling.”
That friendship I thought would be rewarding? We’re both busy. Broken Relationship.
Maintaining a grateful, positive attitude? Too much is going wrong. Broken Spirit.
I recognize the value of these things—that’s why I can’t completely let them go. I may even suspect God wants me to have what I’ve packed away, but convinced they’re broken, I place these would-be blessings on a dark shelf.
Once I’ve put them in storage, I’m slow to reconsider their viability beyond the occasional “if only” thought.
In the case of my sewing machine, whenever I’d hem a skirt or shorten curtains by hand, I’d think about how much quicker and nicer the stitches would be if only my machine worked.
“If only” thoughts ought to be a sign that perhaps we’ve too hastily packed up a blessing, calling, or even a command.
Though it was years ago, I remember an “if only” moment related to my dream of writing full-time.
Envious, I lamented to a friend, who worked part-time, that I wished I didn’t have to spend my days in an office. Maybe I didn’t use the words, but “if only” was all over that statement. My blessing was broken. Hers seemed to hum along perfectly.
My friend gently called me on it, saying, “You could do this too, if you made the sacrifices we make.”
I wasn’t convinced, probably in large part because the sacrifices scared me. I found it easier to leave the dream in the box labelled “Broken.” It was easier to assume it wasn’t God’s timing—or maybe I’d misheard His call toward focusing that much time on writing in the first place.
God would bring me through some major changes before I was willing to re-examine the label I’d put on that box.
Similarly, my decision to take my sewing machine out of storage took time and converging circumstances. I came across it during an organizing spree. My brother offered to fix it. Finally deciding there was hope, I brought the sewing machine out of storage.
The machine sat for one day on my dining table, and in that day, a tiny suspicion bloomed. Was I certain it was broken? What if I had threaded the machine incorrectly?
Surely, I wouldn’t have done that…but I couldn’t risk asking my brother to fix a working machine.
So I leaned close to the diagrams in the owner’s manual and traced my finger down the directions, following them one by one.
Newly threaded, the machine worked perfectly.
It has worked all this time.
Do you know what else works? That dream of writing full time. I quit my day job five years ago, and God has been faithful to provide for us. In my case, my friend was right: the missing piece was sacrifice. Though we changed our lifestyle, we have more than we need, and I wish I’d listened sooner to what I had long-suspected was a calling on my life.
I share this with you because I suspect I’m not the only one who needs to reconsider what I’ve stuffed in a box labeled, “Broken.”
After all, we serve the all-powerful Creator, the Master Craftsman who can fix anything.
Empowered by this, let’s be thorough before we stick a blessing or calling in a box labeled, “Broken.” Let’s take a moment to inventory our shelves by paying attention to our “if onlys.”
With our owner’s manual—the Bible—in hand, we can study the directions. We can bring these broken dreams, callings, and hopes to trusted, godly advisors. And certainly, we can unpack them before the Master Craftsman.
There may be areas where God does ask us to continue to wait on His timing, because this isn’t about forcing what we want, but rather pursing what Jesus wants for us. Oh, the stories I could tell about waiting! Some of the boxes on my shelves are starting to fall apart for how often I take them out and ask God if today’s the day it’ll work.
In other areas, we may discover something is truly broken. We may need healing, and relationships may require more than a little love and grace to work again. Or, perhaps, the missing part is a willingness to sacrifice—time, money, pride, something else. Considering Jesus went to the cross to repair our relationship with Him, let’s partner with God in His restoration work, no matter the cost.
But perhaps, in one area or another, we’ll find that what we wrote off as broken is, in fact, a fully-functioning blessing, waiting to be unboxed. Let’s not let a hastily scribbled label keep us from God’s best for us one more day.
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