My daughter learned about "broken" the other day. We were in the car and she started crying. The doll's dress wouldn't stay on and she didn't know why. "The snap is broken, love," I said. "Mama will fix it when we get home."
"Boken," she said, and pointed to the snap. I nodded.
"Sometimes things break," I said, "but usually we can fix them."
At home, she showed me again, so I pulled out needle and orange thread and let her watch me stitch the snap back in place. I showed her how the dress worked again, how she didn't need to worry about it anymore. "Boken," she said again, but she smiled when she pointed to the snap this time, as if to say, "Not broken."
I didn't think much of it until we were out on the patio later. My daughter, she has a thing for bugs. I blame the four-year-old boy she sometimes plays with. Anyway, she saw a moth on the porch and ran up to it. It didn't move.
"Mof?" she said, and pointed.
I glanced. "Yes, love, that's a moth."
"Mof?" she said again, kicking at it with her foot and frowning when it didn't fly away like most of them do.
"Yep, it's a moth."
She kicked it again. "Mof. Boken mof," she said, and then I looked up.
The moth was indeed broken, beyond all hope of repair. "Yes," I said, "I think he's broken."
"Mof boken," she said, and it was only then that it dawned on me. I had fixed the doll's dress, and now she wanted me to fix the moth.
"Mama can't fix that one," I said. "Sometimes we can't fix things that are broken."
She didn't understand. I knew she wouldn't - it's too abstract for 18 months. And so she kicked at the moth some more, clearly wanting me to fix it. I explained again and again, "Mama can't, love."
And my heart broke for her, for the things she must learn in this world, for the fact that there are broken things no one can fix and she won't understand why. For the fact that no matter how powerful the people in our lives are and no matter how we look up to them, there are some things even they cannot fix. And for the fact that she has to learn about "broken" at all, that's it's such a part of her world that normally I wouldn't think twice about it.
I don't think Jesus usually raises moths from the dead, but I hope that someday she knows that things don't have to stay broken forever. I hope she learns that, though mama can't fix everything, there's someone who can and she can know him. I pray that the broken things break her heart but don't take away her hope and her joy.