We talk a lot about a God of restoration – we are familiar with the concept of a God who heals. Yet we often say these things from a position of relative security and strength. When we find ourselves in the midst of a storm – when we are struggling and broken and can barely stand – what then? It can feel impossible to imagine how things could ever be fixed, and it is tempting to cry out for things to be back to the way they were. It was during one of these times that a friend of mine offered Kintsugi as a picture for me.
Kintsugi: ‘to repair with gold’
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold or silver lacquer, and acknowledges that the piece is more beautiful and highly prized for having been broken.
It is a comforting thought that our breaks, our damage, can indeed be mended. That broken pieces can be made into a cohesive whole again – and rather than bearing ugly scars, these marks ultimately become the strongest parts of the pot, and the pot itself becomes more beautiful than ever it was before.
It strikes me that a God who delights in creating streams in the wasteland might also rejoice in creating rivers of gold through broken clay. That a God who could create afresh - sweep things away and start anew – may instead choose restoration of the broken. Maybe a God who turns defeats into victories might delight in tenderly re-crafting someone, and turning their biggest breaks into their beauty. Suddenly, rather than looking back towards the way things were, and wishing damage had never been done, it becomes much easier to press onwards with breaks that are beautifully and tenderly mended, rather than hidden.
It’s not about staying broken, yet it’s not about being totally new either – the ‘you’ doesn’t get lost. In fact, the uniqueness of ‘you’ becomes even more evident.
If you’re broken
Maybe it’s not about starting from scratch -
Maybe you were created beautifully in the first place.
Maybe you were fearfully and wonderfully made from the start.
Maybe the Potter doesn’t expect you to fix His work –
Maybe He doesn’t expect you to pull the pieces back together yourself.
And maybe, just maybe, broken will become better than new.
Jesus faced the same testing we do – even Jesus was broken. No-one makes it through this journey without breaking somewhere, yet the breaking is not unforgivable, it does not incur God’s wrath – far from it. But the harsh truth is that there is nothing admirable about staying broken.
You cannot ‘push on toward the goal’ when things are so broken that you can no longer stand... maybe that’s the time to stop striving and let the Potter do His thing. Maybe that’s the time to acknowledge that God opposes the proud, and take a more honest look at your own attempts to fix yourself.
Visible scars give other people the chance to show their own.
None of us are polished, unbroken showpieces, not one. When repairs become something to rejoice over, we may finally give ourselves permission to let our carefully crafted facades slip a little.
Seeing someone’s brokenness become their beauty gives others freedom to admit their own cracks, gives them hope that they too can be restored, and creates an atmosphere of honesty and openness in a world that prizes fake perfection.