Food for thought

The Healing Art of Kintsugi

I know I didn’t write last week, but I had a good reason. Well. A good-ish reason. Remember my promise to try and deliver a post with more substance? Well, I had so many things rolling around in my head that I couldn’t decide what to put down. So I wrote nothing at all as I tried to figure out what, in fact, I was supposed to write.

This week, I have finally settled on Kintsugi. Well, I am pretty sure God settled on it for me. In case you don’t know what Kintsugi is:

Kintsugi: a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum (Collins Dictionary).

Why would one do this? Well, as explained in The Story of With, my most recent non-fiction read, the point is “rather than hide the imperfections, they highlight them by filling the cracks with liquid gold. They view the repaired item as even more valuable, because it is now unique from all other vessels…the goal isn’t to hide the broken places, but to redeem them.”

I had heard of Kintsugi before, as, I think, most have, but hadn’t thought of it in ages, and the way it was described in the book had me assessing my own breaks. Then, today, Hannah Brencher spoke on the same thing in her newsletter. “At the core of Kintsugi, it’s a belief that flaws don’t make a vessel useless. That cracks and breaks actually make the piece more valuable…when we put the pieces back together after a break, we become even more valuable, and even more resilient. That’s the beautiful thing. We don’t have to be afraid of breaks, tears, or scars. They’re just proof we showed up and kept going– even when the odds seemed against us.”

Well, I decided to take that as a sign from God that that was what He wanted me to write about. I mean, what are the chances that such a random thing would come up twice in one week? From completely different sources?

So, related, I recently made a new friend (Right? How strange is that! It is next to impossible to make new friends. At least for me), and she has a habit of asking uncomfortable questions. Okay, for most people they probably wouldn’t be uncomfortable, but for me, it has been an exercise – a good kind of exercise – answering them…and answering them honestly. Because I am a very private person, as most of you know, and I rarely share pieces of my background without knowing someone for a few years first. There is a piece of my soul that shrinks in on itself trying to answer questions about my background in an honest way, without sharing too much. And yet, she shares freely, which I love. So why the hesitation on my part?

I’ve been trying to figure that out. Because I thought I had healed from my past scars. But, you know what? I think that…while the breaks might be pasted back together, I was very careful to use clear glue. No highlighting in gold for me! I want everything to fit perfectly, with no sign of anything having ever been wrong. I don’t like to revisit the scars, to admit that there are scars. And, for the first time, I am thinking differently about that.

In The Story of With, the author says, “We all have scars. Most unseen. Betrayal from those we trusted. Silence when we needed support. Conditional love based on our performance. Hearts shattered. Though the wounds are invisible, they cut deep.” When I first read that, I felt seen. I felt like he knew what I had suffered. Knew that hurts, the deepest hurts, usually aren’t visual. They can be as basic as silence when we needed support, and yet completely shattering.

But then, he went on to say, “To fully break free from your desert [the dry and dusty place in which you feel stuck…regret, striving, overwhelm, etc.), you must go into the scars of your story.” Another way he explained it was, “when the Creator redeems us where the enemy tried to break us, our scars become areas of strength…trying to hide or forget the painful parts of our story takes away an essential aspect of our identity [as a child of God].”

I don’t like seeing my scars. I don’t like others seeing my scars. I look at them as failures. And, above all, as private. What business is it of others what my scars are? And, most of the time, to be honest, I convince myself that they don’t care. It’s one of the reasons that 99% of the time, when someone asks a question, I’ll give the highest level answer possible – because I assume it’s kind of like saying “How was your day?” No one ever actually wants to know the answer. They want a rote, “Good, how was yours?”. So I operate on the base assumption that no one actually cares, so why would I burden them?

But. What if I wasn’t so afraid of a little gold lining? What if, by showing that gold lining, I could actually help other people? What if people saw my scars, saw where I am now, and…are encouraged? What if God uses my story to help others live their stories?

It’s something to think about, anyway.

One thought on “The Healing Art of Kintsugi

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