We’re all broken. Not one of us makes it out of this life unscathed. The problem is we are taught from a young age to hide all our brokenness, like somehow the broken parts of us are bad. This world tells us we must never show our scars. We live in a world in which we only show our best, never our worst. Our social media pages are filled with only the best moments so we appear to have our shit in a pile- while secretly we’re trying to keep our heads above the water and not drown. This world tells us that if we are broken in the slightest then we are damaged and of no use. So we hide, trying not to expose the scars. So, we continue living our lives from the broken places trying to pick up the pieces along the way in hopes that no one will see them. I got the impression that brokenness meant I was defective and so I spent 30 years of my life believing that was true.
I won’t dive deep into my own story now, but I’ll give you a little glimpse. At age seven I was broken. I was thrown down, and used for the pleasure of another. I was raped and forever broken, forever defective. That continued for many years, another seven to be exact. Other things happened along the way that further aided in my brokenness. I made decisions that caused brokenness and others made decisions that further broke me. My dad left, making me the girl from the broken home. My heart was broken by my first love. I was raped by a boy in college on a date, leaving me broken, used up and discarded once again. I lived my life from this broken place, trying to pick up the pieces so no one would see, while trying to piece them all back together.
Then one day, my husband and I were knee deep in trying to heal some wounds in our marriage and in that I came face to face with my own brokenness. It caught me off guard. The issues causing the potential destruction of our marriage were his issues, not mine. At least that is what I would have liked to have believed because then I wouldn’t have to acknowledge my brokenness. Then out of nowhere I looked at him and told him there were some things he needed to know about me. Things I didn’t want to share with him because I didn’t want him to see and know that I was broken, damaged, used up. I told him it was okay if that’s what he saw after I shared, and I wouldn’t blame him for leaving me. So he sat and listened and I talked. It was painful to say the least. Then I slowly lifted my head to meet his gaze and as I did he spoke these words: “you are kintsugi.“
I will admit I was a bit caught off guard when those words were uttered from his lips. I had no clue what kintsugi was and furthermore no idea on how to take that- was it a compliment or an insult? He of course went on to explain what kintsugi was and I fell in love with the word, with the art form.
You see, kintsugi is a Japanese method used in repairing broken ceramics. It came about when a Japanese shogun broke his favorite cup and sent it to China to be repaired. The Chinese said, the cup was unrepairable and sent it back. The shogun then sent his cup to a Japanese craftsman to repair it. The craftsman was impressed with the shogun’s steadfastness and eagerness to have his favorite tea cup fixed that they decided to transform the broken cup into a work of art. They filled the cracks with lacquered resin and powered gold- thus starting the kintsugi art form. Artists still today use the practice of kintsugi by gluing the broken pieces of ceramics back together using gold or silver lacquer. Thus resulting in intensifying or highlighting the brokenness. Those that repair the broken ceramics are kintsugi masters, and before they ever begin their work on a broken object they imagine what it will look like when it’s restored. They create the vision and then get to work restoring. Ultimately, kintsugi is creating beauty in the broken things.
I was captivated by this idea that my own brokenness could be ‘repaired’ and ‘restored’ and made into something even more beautiful. I like the way that Jimmy Larche writes of kintsugi, he says, “As a philosophy, kintsugi treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, something of a redemptive beauty, rather than something to disguise, cover up, or replace altogether.” You see, our brokenness is nothing we should be ashamed of, nothing we should cover up and hide. Our brokenness is actually a thing of beauty. It’s a part of us. It reminds us of where we’ve been and where we are now. It’s a gift.
The gift in being broken is that it breaks way for change and growth and gives us fresh perspective. Being broken allows us to be empathetic and understanding towards others and what they are walking through. Being broken makes way for gratitude. Being broken allows us to be redeemed and made whole.
You dear reader are not broken beyond repair. You are not damaged goods to be tossed in the trash. You are beautiful, redeemed and of great value and worth. You are kintsugi.