Missional Musings: We are more beautiful for having been broken
March 26, 2020
I’m fascinated by the Japanese art form of Kintsugi – are you familiar with it? It’s the practice of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum.
Simply put, it’s the practice of highlighting brokenness and calling it beautiful.
In my own life, I would say that I’m more beautiful for having been broken. At least on most days. I think that’s why the art of Kintsugi speaks to me so much. I mean, think about it. How often do we handle our own brokenness by highlighting the cracks, the scars, the marks left behind? Probably not all that often. We generally handle it in other ways…
We try to cover the brokenness up. We hide it from others, afraid if they see those parts of us, they’ll think we’re to be discarded, just like a broken piece of pottery. Not good enough. Not worth anything. So we cover it up.
We even try to cover the brokenness up from ourselves. We think we if stuff it deep away or act like we aren’t affected… like we weren’t broken, that we will be okay. So we power on. We forge ahead.
The problem is, whether we’re hiding it from others or denying it to ourselves, those cracks just don’t stay hidden. Try as we might, more wear and tear, more stress, more trauma, more life stuff just keeps compounding and the cracks either start to show or they get bigger.
But mending our brokenness and calling it beautiful? Allowing others to see it? That’s how we heal.
I think during this time where we are forced to do life differently, where we or people we know are struggling with job loss, illness, fear, isolation, grief, and uncertainty, is a time that either brings out the best or the worst in people.
Friends, we have such an opportunity to be the hands, feet and smile of Jesus during this time.
We can model what it means to believe that we are more beautiful for having been broken. We don’t have to cover up the brokenness from others or ourselves. We don’t have to act like we are always okay. It’s okay to feel grief, to be stressed, to feel all the things during this time of uncertainty. We can STILL show the love of Jesus – through that very brokenness.
Even though I have hope, I have real fears. I’m starting to feel this bizarre blend of compassion fatigue, not from being on the front lines of this, like first responders, medical professionals, and all those who are doing their jobs to keep stores clean and open, to keep factories running, to keep some things moving in life. I feel it because I’m reading and hearing the fear and stress from my friends, my loved ones, my community, and really, the entire world. I feel like I’m absorbing so much of it and it’s wearing me down. I find myself exhausted day after day.
The current situation and all that comes with it has also caused me to feel triggered by a previous trauma I experienced, and, frankly, it’s overwhelming. Even though my brain knows I’m not in that situation anymore, my body is reacting like I am.
If I’m honest, I feel broken.
Maybe you do too.
This is where the opportunity enters. Instead of trying to hide it, which we know won’t work well for long, we can lean into it. We can use our brokenness to let the light of Jesus shine through. We can start to believe that we are more beautiful for having been broken. We can acknowledge the pain and suffering, but we can also allow our brokenness to help someone else during this time.
Friends, I think our society as a whole has an opportunity to emerge from this situation more beautiful for having been broken. I already hear wonderful things that are happening in spite of the fear and uncertainty.
So, today, I would encourage you to allow yourself some extra grace… and allow your neighbor some too. When you feel the urge to try to hide the cracks, your brokenness, remember that just like that piece of pottery that now shines with gold in the cracks, YOU are more beautiful for having been broken.
I want to leave you with this poem by Nikita Gill, titled, “You Are a Survivor.”
The bits of you that are broken,
the bits of you that are damaged,
do not see them that way.
Instead see them as slowly being filled with beautiful experiences and truths
you have learned from the damage,
the equivalent of lacquered gold.
I want you to remember, you are not a broken thing,
Instead, you are a human full of incredible and wonderful experience,
made of the same things swords and diamonds are made of.
You are a survivor, my darling, and
I salute you for everything you have been through,
and for making the universe so proud,
so very proud of what you have become.
Go, be beautiful.