Beautiful and Broken
Years ago a friend told me that the only people he found truly interesting were those who were honest about their brokenness and who were being healed by Jesus. I first scoffed at such a notion but then realized how true that was. There is incredible beauty in brokenness.
We chafe at that idea because our culture doesn’t like broken things. When something doesn’t look like it can be fixed, we tend to throw it away. We toss away broken toys, furniture and electronics. Sometimes it is easier and cheaper to buy something new rather than fix something that is broken. Tragically, families break and we discard them. Workplaces are broken and we don’t want to go there. Our past is broken and we try to hide. People break and our tendency in church is to toss them aside. We don’t know what to do with them. Jesus died for the broken.
The ancient Japanese discovered beauty in brokenness. When a ceramic bowl broke they tended to fix it unlike us who are used to throwing it away. A 15th century Japanese shogun sent a broken tea bowl back to china to have it repaired. It was returned to him in one piece but the way it had been repaired made it look ugly. He asked some Japanese artisans to fix it. They developed a method called Kintsugi which simply means ‘golden joinery’. The craftsman used a process where gold dust was used to highlight the cracks and fractures of the bowl. Instead of trying to hide the brokenness, they used gold to highlight it. And these bowls became some of the most valuable pieces of property a person could have. Everyone loved the beauty the cracks provided. In fact they would come to break vessels just so that they could be fixed by the Kintsugi craftsmen. These artists became some of the best craftsmen in the country because even though the break was more obvious, the repair was more beautiful.
We hide our brokenness. We live in guilt and shame because of it. Which is odd because every one of us is broken. No amount of hiding can cover up all our cracks. People see them. The more we try to hide them, the more others notice them. The more we pretend to be perfect, the less beautiful we become. The pathway to beauty is being honest about our brokenness. St Augustine wrote: My sin was all the more incurable because I did not think myself a sinner. How much more beautiful our lives become when we are honest about our brokenness and take that to Jesus. The gold of His love can make something beautiful.
Paul says in Ephesians 1:1 that we are saints. That's how God sees us when we are in Christ. But he reminds us Ephesians 2:1 that we are broken. Until we recognize the beauty that God can make out of our brokenness we will never know what it is to become who God has called us to be. In order to show the world the surpassing greatness of Jesus’ power, we need to not be afraid to say my God has saved me and has made me a Saint because he fixes the broken world of a sinner.
Here is the best part. When the Kintsugi craftsmen repaired these broken vessels from around the world, they were no longer considered Korean plates or Chinese bowls or Indian dishes. Once they were mended with the kingsugi method, they were forever considered Japanese. The repairman had left his mark and everyone knew who it was that had repaired it.
Has Jesus left His mark on you? Those repairs let us and others know we belong to Him?