what my iPhone taught me.

Last Friday, I flung open the office door, spreading my arms wide, chin lifted to meet the rays of sun that were rejoicing on my behalf. I ran my tongue across my top row of teeth, taking in the slick, slippery surface that served as proof of my victory as I mentally cued thoughts of smiley face stickers and ALL of the Colgate goodie bags. I'd done it. I'd managed to make it through my dentist appointment without: a) Cavities and b) Reaping any negative consequence in having confessed to my dental hygienist that I'd only flossed twice . . . in the last six months. 

Amidst my celebration, my hand flew open and out sprawled my two-year-old iPhone. 

"No big deal," I thought to myself. "My iPhone's never broken when I've dropped it in the history of me owning iPhones so I must still be the only iPhone user who has managed to keep all of her iPhones nice and in-tact. Ever."

I reached down to pick it up. And - lo and behold -  a gnarly, witchy, spider vein of a screen crack stared back at me, mocking my pride and my "perfect" dental work. 

For the past week, I've been staring at this cracked screen. I've been scrolling past the grooves, constantly reminded of my device's imperfection and fragility. I've resolved to work past the jagged surface, focusing instead on my text messages and e-mails and occasional 30-point moves on Words With Friends. 

And recently, it hit me. This is my life.

Not my iPhone itself, but its cracked surface. On the surface, my life is cracked and imperfect. On the surface, it's fragile and messy. On the surface, parts have been broken - seemingly irreparable.

My guess is that yours looks like this, too.

But each time I run my fingers over those cracks - each time I think of a past wrong or a painful season, or a point at which life was dizzying and disorienting - I realize the truth: and that truth is that I'm still functioning. I'm still here.

That crack on the surface didn't take me out. It didn't power me "Off." It didn't render me unusable.

As a matter of fact, when I run my fingers over the cracks of my life, I'm reminded to be grateful for what's left. For the strength and resilience that have been given to me as tender graces; for invitations to lift up whispers of gratitude and thanksgiving; for still being able to give off light and opportunities to put His power on display with my life at all.  

The cracked screens are all around me: 

Hurricane Harvey struck my hometown of Houston, Texas, threatening life and livelihood in a way that my friends and family members had never before experienced. But as I run my finger over that crack, I think back to this past Wednesday, when the Houston Astros won more than just the 2017 MLB World Series - they won hope and triumph for our city, too. The crack laid a foundation for camaraderie and charity, for the victory to be that much sweeter. 

The #MeToo movement inspired me to say just that: #MeToo. As I run my thumb over the events of my life that link my elbows and tie my heart to others' who've endured the pain of being treated as less than worthy of love and respect, I'm reminded that I was broken, but I was NOT shattered. I am able to use the gifts given to me by God's Spirit to glorify Him and encourage others around me. I am able to inspire joy in the lives of my children. I am still able to shine a flashlight on injustice and wisely use the power of 140 characters to speak truth and grace. 

My dad's illness is probably the most pronounced crack of them all. It's hard living so far from him, knowing that every day presents its unique challenges. Every hour is a crap shoot and every minute is a gift. I run my hand over that crack and I'm reminded to press the green Phone app, to call, to FaceTime, to see and be seen. To be reminded of how fragile life is and how, really, every second is a gift, regardless of what circumstance finds itself sitting next to me in the moment. 

This past Wednesday, I helped Dad get into bed, and I gave him a manicure. I ran my fingers over the grooves of his fingernails, and realized that that moment was probably the closest I'd been to experiencing the presence of God that day. There was nothing special about it - it was almost midnight, right after the Astros had won. But the "aha!" moment was the Holy Spirit whispering: 

This crack actually breaks you open just a little bit more. You're more available. You're open to more of Me.

99% of the time, I hate what technology has done to our sense of real, raw human connection - as evidenced by my own screen obsession, first and foremost. 

But in the past week, my iPhone has taught me that, perhaps, the best way to be reminded of my God's faithfulness and grace in my life - reminded, even, of my own resilience - is to keep the cracks front and center. 

It's because of the cracks that I am - that we are - strangely enough, able to fling the door open and spread my arms wide in true wholeness.

As you run your fingers over the cracks of your life, be reminded that you are still here. You have been broken open to make room for more of what's real and true. Sit in it. Stare at it. Don't run away. 

I have a hunch that our world could use more people who've been broken open - who've been cracked - but not shattered.

Ashlee Eiland