Broken, what do you do with shattered shards of clay,
How do you find your way among the ruins of your life,
How do you survive, broken?
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing pottery to bring beauty to brokenness. Instead of disguising damage, these artists use gold, silver, or platinum lacquer to highlight the “scars,” transforming broken vases and bowls into unique, resurrected masterpieces. What a lovely way to think about life and art!
Kintsugi illustrates how God works with us. He is the Master Potter who will not discard or reject the broken. Instead, when our lives are shattered, he draws near to comfort and heal. Psalm 34:18 says, The Lord is close to a broken heart and saves those who are crushed in spirit. We may fear the restoration process, but he is gentle because A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out (Matthew 12:20).
As the Master Artist, God is in the process of binding together our fragmented parts. His goal is to strengthen, expand usefulness, and fashion beauty from ruin. In short, he wants to transform. Forget the former things, the Lord says in Isaiah 43:18. Do not dwell on the past. See I am doing something new. If we glimpsed the masterpiece God sees in us we would—
. . . set aside our self-defeating emotional conclusions, the “stories” we’ve constructed about how impossible it is for us to recover from our devastations, betrayals and losses. And not only this, but to release the investments we have in keeping our lives broken as a reminder of how we’ve been unfairly treated, used or abused. Or even more detrimental, our tendency to cling to misfortunes as a way to prove to ourselves and others that we are “damaged goods,” not worthy of love, recognition or success. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/daisy-j-lin/from-broken-to-beautiful-how-to-cultivate-beauty-that-lasts_b_5433143.html)
Healing and repair requires expertise. Kintsugi adhesive bond is created from a fine balance between gold and epoxy. If too much gold is added, the adhesive will be too soft. With too much epoxy, the bond becomes too brittle. So too, the Master Artist pours the right mixture of grace and truth into our brokenness. Always we see the golden thread of his love run along every repaired fault line in our lives.
The creation of a great work of art takes time. Kintsugi is 400 years old, but even today, repairing the most refined ceramic piece can take up to a month because of the various steps and epoxy drying time. Moving too quickly would ruin the work. Likewise, God is not hurried as he transforms us into his masterpiece.
The Psalmist, confident in the Master Potter’s vision says, The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me . . . but then he adds, [Lord], do not abandon the works of your hands (Psalm 138:8). I relate to the Psalmist’s angst, don’t you? He seems to be saying, “I know that you will accomplish your plans, but I am so flawed, please do not give up on me!” We need not worry. After all, We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Listen to the song “Broken” from the movie Saving Winston.