Smashing Pumpkins

Many years ago, the girls and I were curled together on the couch, reading and anticipating visits from trick-or-treaters. The outside light was turned on as a welcome beacon to families who would soon roam the streets. It was the calm before the storm. And what a storm it was:

Quick, heavy steps on the front porch, followed by louds BOOMS, echoing throughout the front porch and into our living room. The girls didn’t know what happened at first, but it didn’t take long to understand. Yes, someone had smashed the jack-o-lanterns we’d enjoyed making a couple weeks before, and they were brazen enough to explode them on our front porch.

Among the tears and bewilderment, I quickly swept off the remains so (1) my girls didn’t have to see their pumpkins’ guts sprawled across the porch and (2) people could get to our front door without a pumpkin slip-and-slide.

I remember the sound of the exploding pumpkins and the look of horror on Caitlin’s face every year at this time. (We didn’t ever put pumpkins on the front porch again. They were protectively positioned on the back steps, away from traffic, or inside.)

As I was walking today and saw several pumpkins splattered across roads, I thought once again of that night. Sure, they’re just pumpkins. A smashed pumpkin isn’t a tragedy, but it just makes me wonder “why”? It seems pointless. A perfectly good pumpkin – likely purchased and diligently transformed into a jack o’ lantern – splattered across the road with the seeds and threads of innards creating a slippery slide. Why? Because someone wanted the challenge of sneaking up to a house in the darkness to snatch a pumpkin and listen to the ka-thud as it hits the pavement? Humph.

But perhaps all smashed pumpkins aren’t bad. A whole pumpkin makes a great Fall decoration, but what good is it if it simply sits on a porch for a season and is then tossed into the trash? The best it might become is compost for something else to grow. It could be gutted for a pumpkin pie. The seeds could be separated for a delicious snack of toasted pumpkin seeds or to be planted to multiply pumpkins. The pumpkin has to be broken from its wholeness to be useful.

Like me. And you.

We can look great…but in order to be used, we have to be willing to be broken.

The sacrifice God wants is a broken spirit. God, you will not reject a heart that is broken and sorry for sin. Psalm 51:17

Being broken isn’t the goal. We can allow ourselves to get into situations that end up tearing us apart and breaking us down in unhealthy ways. We can stay in a broken situation because we feel helpless. 

The goal is growth. Being broken is part of growth.

It’s not an easy process for me. I prefer people see me put together instead of spilled with my messiness for all to see. But I’m learning. When I let God work through the mess, the result is much more beautiful than I could ever dream. And others who experience the mess with me usually grow in the process, too.

Pumpkins are going to get messy…by smashing, rotting, or using. Like life.

Don’t smash someone else’s pumpkins (especially on my front porch), but when your pumpkin – or life – is smashed, trust God. He’s the best gardener ever.

I planted the seed, and Apollos watered it. But God is the One who made it grow. 1 Corinthians 3:6