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We had a cool cookie jar a number of years ago, and, as sometimes happens when you have small children (or clumsy adults – I’m not sure which, anymore), it lost a battle with the floor, and ended up in many pieces.

My son Michael loved this cookie jar because he thought the handles on the side of it looked like ears – and besides, there was always something good inside it.

I was thinking about it the other day – how it had held so many cookies over the years, and how, when it broke, we did what you’re supposed to be able to do with super glue, and did what we could to put the three dimensional puzzle back together.

Well – mostly.  There were many pieces, some which were “glueable”, and some that had been turned into powder and would never be glued back together.

We ended up with something that was pretty much shaped like the old cookie jar, I mean, you could definitely tell what it was supposed to be, but it had cracks in it that couldn’t be filled, pieces missing that we never did find, and while the ears were still there, the knobby part of the lid you used to actually pick up the lid was broken and gone.

It wasn’t the same.

The weird thing is – it ended up being a cookie jar for a long time after that.  It still held wonderful things inside, but we had to be careful with the outside.

It was fragile, it had shown it could be broken, and it was.  And the consequences were quite visible.

And I thought about us – as humans…

How we try to be perfect, and we’re not.  No one is.  We try to be good, and as hard as people have been trying to be good for thousands of years, we just can’t do it.

  • We do stuff we’re not supposed to do.
  • We don’t do stuff we are supposed to do.
  • Decisions that should come easy are weighed down by the emotional anchors we have that keep us from making them.

And the fact of the matter is just simple:

We’ve all muffed stuff up in our lives, haven’t we? We’re all broken cookie jars.

As I write this, I know there are some folks out there that you might not consider to be a cookie jar, or consider for a container much different than a cookie jar – and that’s okay – we’ll leave them out of the picture for a moment… Let’s just stay with cookie jars.

Think about it.  How many people do you know who haven’t muffed something up in their lives?

The fact is – once you muff something up – or, sadly, sometimes people don’t even get the chance to muff things up themselves, someone else does it for them (don’t ask me how I feel about that, it’s not particularly printable) – but however things get muffed up is irrelevant, whatever it is, however it is, we, just like the cookie jars, are broken.  We’ve got sharp edges that can end up hurting others – whether we want to hurt them or not.

And until they’re glued back together, until they’re healed, they can’t really hold any cookies.

So where does that leave us?  Are we a bunch of pieces of ceramic lying on the floor? I mean, if we’re broken, well, then that’s what we are – but where’s the superglue? – What takes the place of that?

I was wondering about that, too, and found myself thinking that one of the main things that makes broken people whole again is forgiveness.  I mean, with all my faults and screw-ups, I may be really, really good at seeing other’s faults and screw-ups, but not see my own.  It’s like, when you’re looking at someone from inside your own cookie jar, it’s kind of hard to see the breaks, isn’t it?  They’re just too close and out of focus.  But seeing the breaks in other cookie jars is pretty clear, and as I’ve watched, over the years, I’ve seen us as humans do a couple of things pretty often.  (Note: I’m so-o-o-o-o not excluding myself from this here)

  • We go along and point out the cracks in other’s cookie jars without even acknowledging our own, as if, somehow, our cracks were in some way better than others…

You know – the kind where – oh, let’s say this particular crack is driving… Ever notice how people driving faster than you are maniacs, while people driving slower than you are idiots? – (keep an eye open for a story I’ll call something like “idiots and maniacs” – it’s on my backlog of stories to write)

  • And then, have you ever noticed how easy it is to point out to someone how much is wrong with their lives without having a clue how to fix your own?

Ever notice how we often by doing that, elevate ourselves to be the judge of people when we have no idea what caused all the cracks they’re dealing with?

Didja think that we’re really just a bunch of cookie jars – and every one of us is busted up in one way or another?  It can be things that happened to you when you were growing up, things that happened to you when you were grown up, things that happened to you when you were working – or at school, or in the most intimate relationships that should be completely safe – but sometimes aren’t.

Often we’re flexible, but over time things like that can break us.

And the sad thing is, we can’t unbreak ourselves – once broken, there will be a crack, or a scar, and like it or not, there are consequences to our actions.  We need a fairly constant supply of that superglue to keep us together.  Put in plain language, this means we need to constantly forgive both ourselves and each other, because we are bound to screw stuff up – break our cookie jars – because like it or not, it’s what we do…

But what we often do – instead of helping each other put the pieces of our individual cookie jar back together, we point out each other’s cracks, we pick at them like scabs, and it does absolutely no good.

Can you just imagine that?  A cupboard full of broken cookie jars, each one pointing out just the cracks in the other jars…

…completely ignoring the fact that there’s cookies inside…

I wonder…

How hard would it be to help each other with a little superglue?

It’s so easy to see the flawed exterior – forgetting – or ignoring – all the cookies and goodness on the inside.

And in doing so, we miss so much.

==

PS: I have a total weakness for oatmeal raisin cookies and the chocolate chip cookies my grandma used to send me when I was in grad school packed in real popcorn (you could eat everything in the box that way) – and chocolate chip cookies have never tasted right without popcorn since then.

Take care – and keep that superglue handy – I might need to borrow some…

Tom Roush

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