If you are coming here broken… If there are hurts in your past… You must be willing to embrace the beauty in your cracks to experience true healing.
Here we are… almost a full month into a new year, and if I am honest, I have been slow to implement my New Year Resolutions. They aren’t even difficult:
- Pray when rising and going to bed, giving Jesus the first and last words of my day.
- Flip any negative thoughts that cross my mind about my husband (i.e. “He didn’t take out the garbage AGAIN”) to positive thoughts (i.e. “I’m so thankful my husband shares household duties like garbage and laundry because other men don’t.)
- Smile more at my children while looking them in the eyes and listening (no matter how boring the story is.)
- Take more pictures of my family (and me with them.)
The truth is that I have been in a funk for the last two years.
I have always struggled with depression but this has been different.
We’ve experienced very difficult times and lost several loved ones. My inclination was to curl up in a ball and avoid risking anything (or anyone) that would hurt me more.
I was beyond feeling frayed. I was broken. Cracked in my most vulnerable places.
Then, a news segment on CBS Sunday Morning about kintsugi caught my eye because the artwork they featured was beautiful.
Broken ceramic pieces (that could easily be discarded with the trash) had become gorgeous, intricately detailed by the patient hand of an artisan who could see beyond a broken vase to something that still had incredible value.
I decided to do more research.
Then, just as I was about to forget about kintsugi, I saw it mentioned on the news again.
The Art of Kintsugi
Broken things are not tossed in Japan. Instead, ceramics are taken to artisans who transform broken bowls and plates into amazing works of art by repairing the pieces and filling the cracks using lacquer dusted with gold pigments.
But, it was the philosophy behind the art that truly gripped my heart.
Breaks and repairs are a part of the history of each object. By filling the cracks with gold, the broken areas become a source of beauty and where the real value is found.
This theory… This restoration… It’s what I needed to create something beautiful where the previous two years had left me cracked and broken.
So I purchased some gold powder and had a private ceremony with just me and God.
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3
STEP ONE: Break Something
Because I didn’t have any broken pottery, I needed to break something.
On this plain, white plate, I wrote the year 2017 as a symbol of the last two years in which my family has struggled.
As I wrote the numbers, I was talking to God about His purposes for our sufferings and praising Him for bringing us through each difficult circumstance:
- The deaths of 4 loved ones in six months
- Loss of income despite tremendous efforts
- Increase in debt because of slipping into old habits
- Betrayal and learning that friendships were built under false pretenses
- Feelings of abandonment from our church during a time of stifling grief
- Illness, weight gain, and Diabetes
- Feeling like God was ignoring me
I imagined all of these issues wrapped up in the plate I held in my hands.
Each pain. Each offense. Every struggle. All the bad days. In a round ceramic plate.
And I dropped it.
The plate crashed against the floor louder than I had intended, causing me to startle, but it was a refreshing change to the stark silence I had felt in my soul when I thought God had withdrawn from me.
No, the Lord is very present and has walked me through each of these valleys with a purpose still unknown to me.
STEP TWO: Glue it back together
As I gathered the large pieces of the broken plate, I noticed many small fragments scattered on the floor. That made me frustrated.
Why couldn’t the plate break cleanly down the middle so I had less work to do? I mean, this was going to be time-consuming enough. I needed shortcuts.
So, I dismissed them, thinking they would be inconsequential to putting the plate together again.
I was wrong.
With super glue running between my fingers, I quickly realized I was making a mess because of a few missing, tiny pieces.
Neither was I giving the glue time to work. Rushing to restore the plate, I was not waiting for the glue to dry before attempting to press another piece in place.
As the plate continued to crumble over and over again, the Lord spoke clearly to my spirit, “This is not a project to be rushed. Healing takes time. Some of the pieces are small and require extra effort. The larger pieces have more contact area and need time to rest before trying to hold the others together. See how this is just like you?”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
For the salvation of the Lord. Lamentations 3:25-26
How many times over the last two years had God whispered, “Be still” and I had rushed ahead, ignoring the details?
How many times did my control-freak nature demand to DO SOMETHING instead of waiting and prayerfully seeking God’s will? I expected answers/solutions and I wanted them yesterday!
STEP THREE: Highlight the cracks
Once the pieces were back in place (or close to it), I used a fine paintbrush to drag lacquer over the cracks.
While the glue was still wet, I dusted the seams with gold powder, gently pressing it into the valleys with a paintbrush.
The truth came to me through a song:
I’ve walked among the shadows
You wiped my tears away
And I’ve felt the pain of heartbreak
And I’ve seen the brighter days
And I’ve prayed prayers to heaven from my lowest place
And I have held Your blessings
God, you give and take awayNo matter what I have, Your grace is enough
No matter where I am, I’m standing in Your loveOn the mountains, I will bow my life
To the one who set me there
In the valley, I will lift my eyes to the one who sees me there
When I’m standing on the mountain, I didn’t get there on my own
When I’m walking through the valley I know I am not alone!
You’re God of the hills and valleys!
Hills and Valleys!
God of the hills and valleys
And I am not alone!
Those deep places where I felt my heart was ripped apart, God was still there.
Even if I didn’t seek Him because my emotions were high and my flesh was turned inward. Because I wanted to solve the situation myself. Because I thought He wouldn’t be interested.
God was willing to carry my burdens.
STEP FOUR: Wipe the dust away
When the plate was caked with extra gold powder, it was hard to see the beauty under the excess. Regardless of the value gold has, too much is just too much.
But as I gently wiped away the dust, I could see the difference kintsugi had made in my plate.
Some might look at it and think, “Oh how sad! She broke a plate.” The character developed from the ribbons of gold might be lost to them.
Perspective is everything.
And having passed through two of the most difficult years in my life, I can stand and look back. I don’t understand everything that happened. I cannot see what God was doing. Perhaps I will never see what God was doing.
But God is working.
Maybe this lesson is the reason why I needed to be so broken. Maybe the last two years were awful because that is what it took for God to get my attention. For me to hear Him say:
My Beloved. I might break you. But I will not leave you. Your story will bring me glory. Others will look at your scars and say, “How great is her God! The One who brought her by His grace through oppression and grief to prosperity and joy! Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
My value is not in who I am, what I own, or what others think of me.
My value is the grace with which God holds me together. The story that He tells others through my broken places. The way I share of His goodness with others as He inlays my cracks with gold.
In Him, I am complete. In Him, I am beautiful.
To God be the glory.
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