Have you ever heard of the art of Kintsugi? The Japanese created it hundreds of years ago. It is the method of taking cracked or chipped pottery and mending it in such a way that it is more beautiful than its original state.
The artist will take powered gold and mix it with a cementing or adhering agent and put the broken pieces back together leaving an eloquent line where the break was.
Like God, the Japanese value the beauty of the scarred and broken.
This past week, I had the humbling, and yes, terrifying opportunity to speak on this very topic of brokenness at a youth conference. As the days grew closer and closer to the “big day”, I could not understand why the Lord wanted me to speak on a topic that didn’t seem fitting for such a young crowd. But as always, God showed up in a way I didn’t know was possible.
I am no stranger to scars. I have deep, thick scars littering my abdomen from multiple surgeries. In fact, my daughter was looking at my belly just the other day and we counted 6 on my abdomen alone. My body has been physically broken more than I would like to think at the age of 35.
Like Hannah, one who knew the dysfunctions and flaws of an uncooperative body when she could not conceive, we all struggle with this physical body one way or another. But as I thought about it and studied, I realized that God allows these struggles to occur for many different reasons. Simply the acknowledgment of fully needing Him is enough to face our sometimes fragmented bodies. What about the truth of II Corinthians 1:4 where it reminds us that the comforts we receive from the Lord will soon be the very comforts we can offer another soul in a similar situation? Most important, perhaps, is the very glory brought to the Lord when our weaknesses are made strength because of Him. When we can say words that indicate only God could have done it, that’s when the gold is placed in the cracks.
What about the emotion wounds? Those cracks that infiltrate the heart and mind? How can those be good? They cause us to withdraw, feel useless, be discouraged, or become immobile. Yes, I know these too well, for I too struggle with anxiety and PTSD.
Looking at the life of Elijah, we see a man who was a prophet for God. He should have had it all together. He just destroyed 400 prophets who were worshiping Baal, he spoke to God on a normal basis, and he was hand picked for a specific job. Yet in I Kings 19, you see him suicidal under a Juniper tree ready to have his life over with. He was emotionally wrecked, and rightfully so because the very kingdom wanted him dead.
But God saw.
He stepped in and took care of Elijah. First, he fed him and helped him to sleep. He cared for his physical needs so that his emotional needs to be addressed.
That is me to a T.
In fact when I got married, my brother wrote my now husband a note that said if he wanted a successful marriage with me, all he needed was to remember three things.
“Feed her. Burp her. Put her to bed.”
Do not underestimate a snack, a hug, and a nap.
But then God continued on. He listened to Elijah share his heart and worries.
God does that for us all the time. He listens as we wail, complain, weep, vent. He wants to know our hearts and feelings, no matter how ugly.
However, once we are done, He has something to say. Like Elijah, He comes to us in a still, small voice. We need to shut off the world and listen to what He has to say.
Kids in bed.
Just you and Jesus.
And oh, the things He will say.
Christ was broken.
First, His body was beaten and whipped beyond recognition. As He hung on the cross, his body crumbled under the stress and weight of it all.
Secondly, he was emotionally broken as he wept in the Garden of Gethsemane. He spoke in whispers to the Father of what was to come. He sweat drops of blood because of his distress. Not only did He know the physical suffering that was soon to take place, but he knew the emotional turmoil that was to come of being mocked, ridiculed, and from afar, seeing his mother and friends watch Him suffer.
There is one more kind of broken that we see, but this one is different from the other two. You see, when we are spiritually broken, it is simply because of one reason: sin. Our sin keeps us from fellowship with God. It causes a barrier that is between us and the Creator. The wonderful news is that He stands there with open arms, waiting for us to repent and come back into fellowship. However, when we don’t, and our pride and self gets in the way, we lay in spiritual pieces, no peace, no joy, and no fullness of life.
Christ knew of this kind of shattered.
Though He lived a sinless life, He bear the weight of our sin upon Him that day that He hung on the tree. All of my lies, wrath, secret sins, and dark thoughts were placed upon Him so that when the Father looked on Him, He saw guilt.
I am so thankful that brokenness will not last forever. I am even more grateful that brokenness can be a thing of beauty. Our scars represent trials that were conquered, fears that were destroyed, roads that were leveled, and pain that was felt, but is now diminished.
I imagine Jesus in Heaven.
He opens His hands to welcome me to the Kingdom. And as I look, I see those scars that were put there from the nails,, from my sin. Why would such an ugly thing be part of a New Life in Heaven?
I see it as the reminder of the Greatest Deed Ever Done. I see gold in the crack of my broken self, now forgiven, now whole, now useful, all because of what He did for me.