The Master of Kintsugi 

“Brokenness is the operative issue of our time – broken souls, broken hearts, broken places.” – Samantha Power

“My brokenness is a better bridge for people than my pretend wholeness ever was.” – Sheila Walsh

“And yet, Lord, you are our Father.  We are the clay, and you are the Potter.  We are all formed by your Hand.”  (Isaiah 64:8  NLT)

“Brokenness is God’s requirement for maximum usefulness.” – Charles Stanley

Take a quiet moment today and think about your life as if it were a fine piece of pottery, a beautiful vase, or a unique earthen vessel designed to hold something as precious and incomparable as the pot itself.

Each of us was created by the Potter – designed with a specific purpose and solitary destiny.  We are crafted, shaped and molded to fit that purpose – just like a planter box, a flower vase, and a fine piece of ceramic art are each designed differently to match their intended purpose.

From birth, to childhood, to adolescence, and on to young adulthood, we begin to see our uniqueness and identify with our purpose.  Just like a vase meant for flowers or a planter pot meant to hold plants, we begin to place the hopes, dreams, and desires inside of us that match the destiny of our design.

Then, without warning or advanced notice, the world we live in begins to chip away, crack, and even shatter the vessel we were crafted to become.  The abusive parent, the overwhelming addiction, the broken relationship or the unexpected death take on the persona of someone picking up the fragile, unique piece of pottery and smashing it on the floor.

We become damaged and at times unusable.  The cracks created by the addiction allow all our hopes and dreams to leak out over time.  We try to fill ourselves up again and again, but the cracks have a way of draining and emptying us of any hope we will ever be the same again.  The massive chip taken out of us by the divorce or the rejection make us look broken and ugly – as if we are no longer useful or valuable.  The death, accident or sickness shattered us beyond recognition.  The shattered pieces look nothing like the vessel we were crafted to become – what our lives were supposed to look like and the dreams we were intended to fulfill.

Every day we get up, look in a mirror, and see all the cracks and chips – the brokenness and the shattered parts of us that have changed us into something we were never designed to become in the first place.

If you’ve lived at all in this world, your pottery so to speak has been broken in some way, shape or form.  I’m just like you – defective, chipped and cracked by life – some pieces shattered beyond original form.

Those very close to me, the people who have seen me in my original form and now look at the chips, cracks, and shattered pieces, can tell you how different I am now – how much I have changed.  My family and loved ones see it most and it is why my oldest daughter introduced me to the art of Kintsugi.

A few years ago I moved to another town and a different home.  As a house warming gift, Heather bought me a piece of Kintsugi pottery – a vase that was broken and repaired so it could be used again.

The Japanese art of Kintsugi was thought to have begun sometime in the 15th century when a shogun (Ashikaga Yoshimasa) sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back to China to be fixed.  When it was returned to him, it was held together with ugly metal staples.  He didn’t like it and asked the craftsmen back home to find a new way to repair the damaged pottery – making it look as good as new or even better.  They decided to mend it with gold.  To Ashikaga’s delight, the tea bowl looked better and more beautiful than it was prior to being broken.

The Kintsugi vase sits on my fireplace mantle as a reminder to me that brokenness can make us even more beautiful and more useful than we ever thought possible.  It has taught me to look deeper at the cracks – seeing the mending gold that has transpired as a result versus the hurtful or tragic event that causes them to happen in the first place.

When you think about the shatter pieces of your own life, the events and circumstances that led to cracks and chips that changed who you once were, be mindful of a few things:

First, the piece of pottery cannot fix itself.  In other words, no matter how hard we try to put the shattered pieces of our lives back together on our own will only result in failure.  Our “self-induced” repair jobs are often like the ugly metal staples.  It may work for a while, but over the long run it ends up shattering again.

We can’t change the sickness, the accident, or the death that happened.  The brokenness that came as a result of divorce, rejection, or personal failure cannot and will not be mended or made whole simply by our own efforts.  Unfortunately, we are often told by our friends and loved ones that the process of making us whole again is strictly up to us – our own attitudes, beliefs, and actions moving forward.  We are told we must “get over and move past” the brokenness, pick up the pieces of our shattered lives and put things together the best we can.

Trust me….I’ve tried to do this and have found out that it’s impossible in my own effort.  The alcohol only lasts a little while – like a cheap, brittle staple – fixing things and causing me to forget the brokenness for a short time.  Trying to change addictive behavior strictly through self-control and self-determination is another ugly, ineffective staple.  Only God has the gold that can provide a repair to my brokenness that is strong enough to last and takes on a new beauty all its own.   I needed the Master of Kintsugi, the Creator, the Potter Himself to make me whole again 🙂

When things shatter into tiny pieces, only God can find them all and knows exactly where they belong.  Only God can make something beautiful out of brokenness, but we must turn it over to Him – realizing we cannot fix ourselves no matter how hard we try.  Only God can take something that looks so broken and shattered and make it into something more beautiful and useful than its original design 🙂

Secondly, we must learn to look for the gold within the scars of brokenness – seeing the beauty that has come as a result – those things within us that now radiate and shine brighter than before.

You see, the cracks in a piece of Kintsugi pottery don’t disappear.  In fact, they become more noticeable as the gold glistens within the broken pieces of pottery.

When we become broken, the scars are permanent.  Nothing will ever cause them to fade or disappear on their own. 

In my own personal experience, I kept looking at the brokenness. I kept staring at the ugliness of the situation that led to the brokenness. I kept dwelling on how it changed me in a negative way – how life could never be what it once was or what I once dreamed it would be.  I kept looking in the mirror, seeing the scars and just knowing they would never go away.  My friends and family wanted me to look the other way, change the way I see myself and forget about the ugliness of the scars, but I knew in my heart that scars are permanent.

When we allow the Master of Kintsugi to repair our brokenness with gold, the crack is still there, but within the break is now greater strength and beauty.  We become, like the art of Kintsugi, more beautiful and more useful than before 🙂

Now when I look in the mirror, I am learning to see the beauty in the scar.  I see a renewed sense of compassion in the scar of rejection – a deeper sense of God’s presence in the crack of loneliness. I see a better, stronger, more beautiful vessel compared to the original one – ready and willing to be filled with new dreams and renewed purpose.

How about you?

What has caused you to crack, chip, or shatter in this life?  How have you tried to fix it on your own?  Is the fix lasting – is it working?  Do you focus on the scars of brokenness – knowing with despair they will always remain a part of you?

Let’s take our brokenness to the Master of Kintsugi  – a loving Father who is the only one who can put us back together again!  Let’s learn to look for the gold within the scars – the good that has come as a part of the brokenness….knowing we now are stronger and more beautiful for being broken 🙂

God bless each of you!  

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