One by one, soon after my beautiful bride Judy’s passing, the ceramic hearts fell from the walls of our home. Each precious art piece, collected during our many travels and adventures, shattered. This was not unlike the broken hearts left behind in each of my two daughters and I. Broken, shattered and in pieces.
When Japanese 15-century shōgun Ashikaga Yoshimasa broke his favorite Chinese tea bowl, he sent the pieces back to China for repairs. When the fixed tea bowl was returned, the repairs were made, but with ugly metal staples.
He wasn’t happy, and turned to his Japanese craftsmen for a better aesthetic. They went to work, leveraging lacquer mixed with powdered gold, expertly rejoining the broken pieces and sealing the cracks. In the process, the practice of Kintsugi was said to have been created. Each of the cracks and imperfections mended with gold were transformed, from eyesore to precious art.
With the Kintsugi golden joinery, the cracks, instead of being hidden and disguised, were actually highlighted to show respect for the shattered history, and showcase the beauty of a broken thing made whole.
Like Yoshimasa’s broken tea bowl, my family’s ceramic hearts were shattered with the loss of Judy, and we desperately needed something akin to Kintsugi to put the pieces back together again. Grieving, sadness and tears, sweat, time… But still the shards lay scattered and the broken remained.
For me, I started the repair working on my mind and body, definitely having a positive impact. But It took me way too long to realize that if I wanted the breaks in my heart to be filled and true healing from the grief to result, I needed more. No matter how hard I worked out in the gym, how many miles I clocked in spin class, or how many growth podcasts I listened to, I just could not put the pieces back together again for myself.
I needed the help of not just an improved body and growth mindset, but my faith. I needed to do more than just join the pieces back together again with staples, but delicate assembly and artful golden joinery. Not hiding the deep scars of my grief, but highlighting them beautifully.
Jesus did not reach his full glory until he had been broken on the cross. The many scars on Christ’s hands and feet, near the heart, on the head from the crown of thorns are not hidden, but are highlighted, worn beautifully as the suffering for our sins.
No matter how broken you are, God can heal you, and he will not hide but emphasize the pain and scars you have experienced. He does this to showcase your renewed strength and unique beauty, how something that was broken can be renewed to be more useful and valuable than ever before.
My friend and preacher Chris Wassmann says it well, “The broken vessel cannot hold anything, but if you allow God to heal the brokenness you can not only hold what is poured into you, the water of the Holy Spirit, but overflow the love, joy and peace to others as well.”
Broken, golden joined stronger, and even more beautiful than before. My goal and one I pray for you: To become a Kintsugi vessel to sparkle water hold and overflow.