Unwrapped: The Gift of Brokenness


“I know what you are going to say, and I don’t want to hear it,” my husband said on the other end of the line. I had interrupted his golf game with unwelcome news.

“I don’t want it, either, but I don’t have a choice,” I said, hanging up.

Eight months later, the nurses shuffled me into a room and started hooking up the monitors. The machine charted my contractions like perfect mountain tops against a graphical horizon. They were predictable and strong. It was time to meet our baby girl.

We knew I would have a c-section. As the procedure began, my doctor provided a play by play. “Oh look! I see a pair of feet!” Then, “Have you ever seen a tush so cute!”

Then silence.

No gushing. No cooing. Nothing but silence.

Weighty, breath stealing silence and the certainty of something gone wrong.

My pleading for answers was only met with terse placations. “Your baby will be fine.”

After I was stitched and stable, the doctor came to my side. “Tanya, honey.” Her torn eyes betrayed her comforting tones. “Natalie was born with a cleft lip and a cleft palate. Do you know what that means?”

I had an idea. “I want to see her.”

Her broken smile was the first thing I saw. A deformity lay where the perfect cupid’s bow should be. I never knew so many things could happen in one instant, too many to adequately describe. And some I’m too ashamed to speak of.

Our tiny rural hospital was not prepared to handle her condition. The first week crept by in a despondent haze. I gave birth to a child I could not care for. I couldn’t feed her. She rapidly lost weight. Jaundice and dehydration prevented me from holding her. She cried every waking hour until relenting to exhaustion. Demoted from parents, we became mere spectators to our daughter’s distress. Each tick of the clock bringing more torture.

“My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3 NIV).

For the next two years, we cried. A lot. We got angry. We argued. We agonized. We watched as people winced at our precious baby’s face while we grew to love her broken smile so much we mourned its loss. Twice, we suffered alongside as she endured the pain of surgery. But we did it together. Without knowing God was behind the scenes working a miracle in our hearts and lives.

The sorrow, the grief, the wrath, the acceptance; all those were wrappings on an extravagant gift prepared by God.


Before Natalie, our family was falling apart. My husband and I became strangers. Both of us were contemplating the dreaded D-word, but neither of us would say it.

Before that silence, we were far away from God. But God was not far away from us.

After the silence, He was still there taking our brokenness and putting us back together in His image. He did not spontaneously heal our daughter. Nor did he speak words that made everything perfect. But gradually he brought us closer together and closer to Him.

If we had known what was coming, things would have been so much easier. We could have prepared and planned. We would have known what to expect from the start and never battled all the unknowns. But we would never have experienced the after. Hidden among those shards of disappointment and despair were truth, hope, and peace. The false gods we built our life upon had to be shattered. They concealed the truth. Our foundations had to crumble so we could rebuild. It took time for us to see it, but the brokenness was a gift. A gift of utter dependence upon God. A gift of reconciliation.

“For this is what the high and exalted One says–
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa 57:15).

Is it possible that the thing breaking your heart is bringing you closer to the High and Exalted One? Could the end of your rope be the spot where you let go and fall into the arms of the Savior?

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).



Tanya is a Christian, wife, mom, homeschooler, writer, bookworm, introvert. In a life scarred by abandonment, uncertainty, and doubt, she seeks honesty, community, and loyalty. Connect with her at www.boldlytanya.com or on FacebookTwitterInstagram, or Pinterest.



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  1. Samantha Williamson

    My sister was born cleft lip and palate, my parents speak of how hard it was the first few years of Emily’s life. Doctors said she would have a hard time speaking, and that she would most likely never be able to sing. Emily was a miracle baby God took all of that and gave Emily an extraordinary life. She speaks clearly, she was a four year All Stater in choral music, and she used to go to new parents of babies born with a cleft lip and palate. This reminds that when Christ is our center anything is possible. Love this post!

    04 . Dec . 2016
    • Tanya

      Thanks so much for sharing that, Samantha! I need to hear encouraging stories of people who have been through this. It heals my heart. Natalie has come a very long way. She is about to celebrate her seventh birthday, and there are no discernable speech abnormalities at all. She still has a few more surgeries, but God has proven so faithful to both her and us.

      04 . Dec . 2016

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