I sometimes feel shattered like parts of who I am are fragmented but each and every bit can be redeemed back to being whole, being valued and ultimately being loved.
I had an overwhelming sense of hope come over me after reading Sadie Jones’ novel, 'The Outcast'. On one level, I was deeply saddened by the book, which sees a boy during the Second World War failing to save his own mother from drowning in a river. The boy has to cope with his distant father who has no ability to build a relationship with him. His friends and family reject him, whatever he tries, he is always pushed to the ground. On some level the father totally blames the boy for his mother's death. On the other hand there is hope. The boy is rejected and ends up in prison but through that experience, amongst others, he comes out and manages to reconnect with the world and in turn connect with himself.
What really pulled at my heart was this connection to self and others. Brokenness is totally caught up in that relationship. For those of you who feel broken or damaged on some level, you will see truth in this. We wrestle with this relationship dilemma. Brokenness affects both how we relate to ourselves as well as with others and with God.
We seem to live in a world where if one is not perfect or indeed perfect in the eyes of many or the adverts pushed on us, then we must change. We must be perfect… because after all “You’re worth it” right? I’m not really talking about skin products and clothing but rather how this attitude feeds into brokenness. If you can't look how that guy looks on the front cover of MensHealth then surely there is no way of changing those feelings within when you were beaten by a family member as a child? Or have teachers, then work colleagues say you don’t have what it takes. Or even that sense of judgment when your relationship breaks down and it's not really because you don’t like the other, but because of some deep emotional bruising which you know has gone before. Brokenness is all around us and we are all led to believe that we must be “fixed” in order to be happy and content. Yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we are often either scared about what might happen if we go about getting “fixed” or the thought of facing up to the brokenness is just too painful to bear so we suppress it. So how do we go about facing up to brokenness?
I beg to differ on this idea of being “fixed". I beg to differ a lot. I get to meet new people all the time. I love it. The excitement of meeting someone new and hearing a bit of their story is one of my favourite pastimes. Listening to their stories is like looking through a window of their life and on occasion you get to jump up and sit on the ledge. It's a privileged position to be in. In those precious moments of sitting by the window, you hear their history, their brokenness. Why on God's earth would you want to "fix" any of that? Surely, the brokenness does not have to define who they are now? But in so many cases brokenness does do just that. It almost becomes an identity. Like an orphan or a survivor of sexual abuse. When I hear people's stories, I see beauty. Yes, I see their brokenness but I also see what has come about from that. I see their value. I see their worth. I see their courage. I see the true grit that has kept pushing them forwards or just kept their head above water. Surely that’s what we should focus on when looking at brokenness. Doesn’t that sound more encouraging and empowering?
So if our brokenness can’t be fixed then what? I would like to pose that it can be redeemed.
To redeem something means to compensate for faults/ bad aspects or make amends of errors. I feel these errors are both aspects that we have caused as well as what is done to us.
Kintsugi is the ancient Japanese art of repairing pottery with a gold resin. It started when a famous shogun in the 15th century sent a damaged Chinese tea bowl back for repairs. When it was returned, it was repaired with ugly metal staples. Finally it was sent back to the shogun, but this time the repairs were done in gold - accentuating the damage thus, making the bowl more beautiful. This has now developed into a Japanese philosophy around being more beautiful as a result of being broken; embracing the flawed and imperfect. A broken bowl made whole again by gold resin is by no means “fixed”, for if it were then you would not see the cracks. The result of using gold resin transforms the bowl into something more beautiful. I would argue that the bowl has been redeemed.
In my own journey I have experienced traumas, which have left me feeling severely broken. I have spent several years in therapy, countless moments of healing prayer and have been fortunate enough to have incredible friends journey with me through the pain. One of the major factors that has changed in me is my relationship with my own feelings around brokenness. I've had to process a lot and now don’t see my past as necessarily negative. In fact, I have tipped up the scales and view it as a deep source of strength to draw from. This is the background to my Kintsugi story.
In this blog, I wish to embark on an adventure whereby I explore my own thoughts and feelings as well as others I meet, around this idea of brokenness and how it might change as I come to accept more of the broken pieces within me… in the hope that I see myself as whole in knowing that I am loved and have worth despite being broken.
I invite you to join me on this journey of rediscovering the pieces which have been broken, to see your own Kintsugi story - knowing that it is possible for each piece to be redeemed...one at a time.
Prayer/ Ponder Point
- What does my Kintsugi story look like & what would I like to be redeemed in myself?