A Broken Cheese Stick

By Naomi Zacharias

My son does not like something that is broken. If his granola bar breaks or even fractures in the process of opening it, he will shake his head adamantly and hand it back to me. He wants a new one. And if given the choice of the broken one or going without, he will choose to stay hungry… and often declare that he will refuse to ever eat again.

This concerns me. Perhaps it is because of the memory of the breaks within my own spirit and story. And while healing fused fragments together, I am still well aware that some joints don’t work quite like they used to; that under the fire of stress, fear comes crying out, I freeze like a small child, and I am afraid to use said muscle again.

It is why I am always partial to something broken and imperfect, like the damaged stem of a bloom in a bouquet my husband hands to me with a kiss, or that my son holds up proudly as his offering to me following a trip to the grocery store with his dad. I clutch the gathering of red, orange, or pink gerbera daisies and immediately my eyes find the one that always lies sadly and didn’t quite survive the trip home. I don’t throw the broken flower away, but instead lift it gently back up onto the stem, propping it up against its neighbors to help it stand again. It is why I love Wellspring, and the hope it recognizes for a life or a circumstance others mistakenly see as irreparably damaged.

So when my son hands me a broken cracker or a torn page from his coloring book he wants thrown away, something in me hurts. I want him to learn to see that broken things can be special–beautiful and strong, even. I don’t want to pretend you can return it back to its original form. But I want him to see something remarkable in what it can now be.

Last night I handed him a mozzarella cheese stick. He started to open it eagerly and when the top part broke off, he shook his head and handed it back to me.

“I don’t want this one anymore,” he declared. “I want a new one.”

I showed sympathy to the discarded cheese stick that offended him so.

“Let’s not throw it away,” I offered. “Let’s see if we can think of a special glue that will help put it back together… and make it even more delicious.”

Jelly, a marshmallow, yogurt? He shook his head decidedly no to all three suggestions. He was not buying this. But then my eyes widened to introduce an idea I thought he might give a chance.

The-Broken-Cheesestick-Wellspring-International-Naomi-Zacharias“I know just the thing!” I teased, as his curiosity gave him pause. “How about… chocolate syrup?” I whispered, I hoped. He grinned, and giggled, and even jumped up and down as we took a dot of the magic of Hershey’s chocolate syrup, carefully spread it on the break, and gingerly secured the top back in place.

I really, really hoped it wouldn’t fall off. It didn’t. He received it with nothing short of glee. And for the first time, a broken cheese stick was celebrated and embraced.

It did this fractured soul some good and I walked away with my limp feeling lighter for a few moments.


Tonight, my son held up a new red crayon. He put it between two hands and asked if he could break it.

“Let’s not do that.” I answered.

“But mom,” he said. “If it breaks, it just means there would be two of them instead of one. Right?”

Though we had a conversation about handling something with care, I won’t lie… part of me smiled. It was the first time he had seen potential in something broken. Small victories.

Today, if you hold something in pieces in your hands, perhaps take a closer look. It may be that it just needs someone to see the hope that it holds, and celebrate when it rises up to be simply more than it was before.

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