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  • Writer's pictureRev Doug Slavens

Beautifully Broken

It crashed to the kitchen floor, shattering into an explosion of ceramic pieces. Instantly silencing the noisiness that is our morning routine. The kids all freeze, each looking at the other, hoping to find blame on someone other than themselves. My favorite coffee mug, now scattered across the floor. “Should have been more careful,” I mumbled to myself as everyone hurried to pick up the pieces. “Just glue it back together” my son said, “that’s what mom does…it will be good as new.” But, the truth is, it would not be “good as new” in fact, it would never be the same. The damage was done.

Broken things are a very familiar part of life in our house. With a family of six, and now a dog, it is only a matter of time before something breaks or gets broken. And if certain broken pieces are able to be fixed, they usually find their way to a temporary home on the shelf, awaiting the super glue repairs. Or in worse cases, just tossed away if I’m unable to piece it back together and strategically repair it without hint of a patchwork of super glue lines. Often, as with my favorite coffee mug, it takes too much work to fix what is broken. It’s easier to just buy a new one.

Have you ever felt that way? Not about what was broke, but about yourself? Broken. Shattered into pieces. Set on a shelf. Tossed aside. Or thrown away. It would take way too much work to try to restore. “Just get a new one.” This is the mindset of our culture. If it’s broken, replace it. If it’s damaged, get a new one. And this mindset bleeds into our lives, “Don’t let anyone see your brokenness, your flaws.” If you do, you risk being tossed aside or replaced. Such reality is the way we often live in this world. With our broken families. Broken marriages. Broken relationships. Broken dreams. Broken lives.

In Japan, they’ve made an art out of restoring broken things. An ancient practice called Kintsugi, meaning “golden joinery” or “to patch with gold,” is an age-old custom of repairing cracked pottery with real gold, not only fixing the break, but greatly increasing the value of the piece. Turning what is broken into something new, something beautiful, by mending the cracks and filling the holes with gold. Instead of hiding the flaws, this method highlights them, creating a whole new design and bringing unique beauty to the original piece. The pottery actually becomes more beautiful and more valuable in the restoration process because, though it was once broken, it not only has history, but a new story.

While most normal repairs of broken things hide themselves, like nicely sealed super glue fixes, the usual intent is simply to make something “as good as new.” Yet the art of Kintsugi reinforces a profound belief that the repair can make things not only as good as they were before, but “better than new.”

Beautifully Broken!

Think about that for a minute. Better than new.

We are all broken, we are born that way. We all have a history, a story. And most of us feel like we need to hide our scars. We try to hide them away, preferring instead to present to the world, a safe facade of who we are, a more “perfect” version of ourselves. It’s too difficult to risk the real vulnerability of exposing what once was. Or what still is. Don't be ashamed of your scars, of the deep crevices that line your soul, or the broken places of your life. These scars have an amazing story to tell. Because it’s often in those moments of complete brokenness that we’ve tasted deep suffering, and in that suffering we realize we were made for more. There is more. There’s a purpose.

In Christ we have a healer. One who repairs. One who can fit the broken pieces that no longer seem to fit, into a new and perfect design. He works, often behind the scenes, mending, fitting together, creating a better work of art, more than we ever dreamed possible. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Cor. 5:17) He makes all things beautiful. Especially in the broken. All from His grace. His grace is the gold that holds all the broken pieces together. It is real life. Jagged edges and all. And that is what His story is about. Bringing life to what was broken. Christ took on the brokenness of this world to restore you.

He makes all things new.

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