SixEight Life


Lessons from a broken keychain

I was meeting with a colleague yesterday about a fantastic new outreach initiative our organization is tackling. It was a meeting filled with dreams, good ideas, and innovation. After we wrapped up, I reached in my purse and pulled out my keys.

My broken key chain

And broke my key-chain.

No big deal, right? It’s just a key-chain.


This was not just a key-chain. It was a symbol of one of the greatest adventures of my life. This key chain was given to me by a friend while I served in Aceh, Indonesia, in 2005. It was crafted by a woman, a survivor of the deadly tsunami. She lived in an IDP (internally displaced people) camp on the outskirts of Banda Aceh. A community organization had taught the women in this camp how to make beaded key-chains, jewelry, etc as an income generating activity.

When I picked up these keys, I was reminded of my great adventure in Indonesia. I remembered my friends there, the impact the trip had on my life, and the long term difference I was able to make among groups who had experienced one of the most horrific traumas imaginable. I remember fiddling with the key-chain  on numerous occasions, wondering how it had survived the years of abuse at my hands.  It has been attached to keys for five different vehicles, three different offices, and three different homes. It’s been thrown around purses and has traveled around the world. Pretty impressive resume for a key-chain, huh?

Banda Aceh days

I was sad when it broke, but I was also reminded of how I’m getting old! Next week will mark seven years from the day I set foot on Indonesian soil for that life altering trip. I grew tremendously as a person during those six months. You can read more about my growth time in Indonesia here if you are interested.

After the key chain broke, I reflected on my life over the past seven years and was reminded of three valuable lessons related to this small trinket on my keys:

Growth sometimes comes through trials. My time in Indonesia was difficult and trying, but I grew emotionally, and spiritually. I’ve been going through a trial recently, and the key chain reminded me that if I let it, this trial will result in growth as well. James 1:2 reminds us that trials lead to perseverance, which helps to sharpen and perfect us.

Maturity comes through time. I remember things I did and said at the age of 20. It’s embarrassing to think about. But maturity comes through time. We can’t jump from milk to sushi in the matter of a day. (Yes, sushi. I love sushi) The last seven years have been a time of maturing, and I’m so thankful for that. (I’m sure some of you are rolling your eyes at my reflections of being 27 vs 20, but hey, it feels like a LONG Time to me)

God is constant. Things break. People leave us. Jobs get lost. But God is constant. My key-chain broke after seven years, but God has been around through this whole time. I’m not close with some people I considered my best friends seven years ago, but God has seen me through interpersonal pain and the advent of new friendships. My husband lost his job in January, but God is where our family’s true value lies.

If you’re experiencing loss, trials, or pain right now, I hope you remember that God is constant and that these things take time. I’d love to hear about any trinkets you have that remind you of a different time in your life. And I’d love to pray for you if you’re going through a tough time of testing or waiting.

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