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A few weeks ago, I found myself standing in a public restroom on the brink of tears. We were in a library and Heath was the floor above me. I pulled my phone out of my back pocket to text him.
“Come downstairs please.”
I typed the words slowly, slid my phone into my pocket, and walked out the bathroom door. Our eyes met. As he descended the stairs, I saw visible worry in his face.
“What’s wrong, babe? What happened?”
“I tried to hang up my bag on the hook in the bathroom. And…and…my bag fell and I dropped my computer…”
I hope you aren’t laughing right now while you sit reading this on your flawless screen. Truly, I nearly cried.
My lovely, beautiful computer is a little broken. He works just fine, but he’s a little less beautiful. I suppose the cruel irony is that I had just taken off the case. (Just to top it off, later that day I knocked the case off a counter top and then stepped on it, effectively breaking that too).
My stomach sank to the depths. It’s the same feeling I had when I was five and I had time-out for the first and only time in my kindergarten career. I talked in line. I clearly broke the rules and Mrs. West gave me time-out. I disobeyed.
I felt horrible. I made a mistake. I failed.
And that punch to the gut feeling sunk into me as I opened my formerly flawless Mac computer to see a bent corner and cracked glass.
It ruined the rest of my day.
I could go on here and tell you how ashamed I felt because I got so upset over a silly possession. I could tell you how it taught to me to be less attached to my belongings, which feels ironic to say since most of my earthly possessions are in a closet in my parent’s house. I could tell you that physical treasures are worthless.
But those lessons are secondary to what I realized about myself. Last week I wrote about putting too much of my identity into what others think of me. Breaking my computer taught me just how much.
I imagined sitting at my computer for the next couple years working in coffee shops, watching Netflix, attending meetings, and showing links to friends when I find something cool online. I imagined everyone locking their eyes on this cracked corner of my screen, seeing nothing but the flaw. Here’s what they would think:
How irresponsible is she?
She dropped her computer, how can she be trusted with xyz?
These are ridiculous thoughts. Right? It is just a computer afterall.
As my computer dropped to the floor with a horrendous, life-shattering clatter, all I could see were the small shards of glass lying on the keys and the slight fracture of my screen. I missed noticing that the rest of my computer remained resolute and perfectly intact. I missed seeing how this one crack did not affect the purpose of the computer.
I think all too often, this is how we view our lives. Even though we try to tweet our best thoughts and share the best pictures of us, we fear people will only see the small, indiscriminate flaw off in the corner. We assume people look past everything that is beautiful and shiny about us to focus on the failures.
I tried to take a photo of this broken corner of my computer, but guess what? My camera couldn’t focus on it. It’s too insignificant.
Our mistakes, like dropping our computer or talking in line when we’re five, are insignificant compared to our greatness.