Life is a fragile thing. One day it can be beautiful and wonderful and feel as though everything couldn’t be more perfect. But it only takes one moment: a phone call or a test result- to make it come apart like a beautiful piece of china falling to the floor. Sometimes it’s only a short fall and the break is more of a chip, really. But sometimes it’s catastrophic. Sometimes it completely shatters and scatters in tiny, jagged, broken pieces across the ground.
Why does brokenness happen? Sure, it would make sense if I was carelessly juggling the china, or if I was using it as a frisbee. But what about the brokenness that occurs when our china is safely displayed in a cabinet? Why does it have to happen when we didn’t do anything to deserve it? I’ve gotten up close and personal with brokenness. I’ve been angry and upset about my own, and I’ve become even angrier seeing how many other people I love bear the same pain. Why are we handed beautiful pieces of china if they’re only going to break into a million little pieces? It seems like a cruel joke.
Wouldn’t it be sad if that were the end of the story? If we impossibly tried to live as pieces for the rest of our life with the same functionality? Or if we simply swept up the shattered shards of what was left and threw the rest in the trash? It sometimes feels like that would be the easiest thing to do.
I recently found a Japanese form of art that made my soul sing, called Kintsugi (meaning “golden joinery”). Kintsugi is essentially repairing damaged pottery or china, but with gold. It restores functionality to a broken vessel but it also gives it beauty and worth. It turns the brokenness into the most valuable part of the piece.
I found this symbolism so beautiful that I decided to make Kintsugi of my own. So a friend and I had some fun and broke some pottery. We created a broken, ugly mess. But then, we slowly pieced it back together into something new. Honestly, it was a lot more difficult than I expected it to be. I realized early into the process that if I wanted the end result to be pretty, it was going to take a lot of hard work- but I also knew shoddily throwing it back together would defeat the purpose. We got tired. We had to take a break and come back to it. My friend cut her finger and started bleeding. This wasn't an easy little craft. It was a project- but I was up for the challenge.
We’ve all been broken in some way, but the great news is that we can be put back together. I used to think of something that’s broken and glued back together as damaged goods- that it’s probably better off in the trash. But I’m learning that brokenness is what makes us more fascinating, more wise and more valuable because of where we’ve been. It teaches us about our own strength. It forces us to persevere. It allows God to prove His ability to restore.
I’m thankful for my brokenness. Yes, I may cry out to God, lament and ask “Why?” in the midst of my pain, but I know there is a purpose. I know that I’m slowly earning what will be an impressive masterpiece with each shard that I patiently piece back together. I know that my brokenness does not define me, but it is shaping me. And it’s making me a better, stronger and more beautiful version of myself than I ever thought possible.