This Japanese word means literally “to repair with gold”. It refers to the art of repairing pottery which has been broken with gold or silver lacquer, understanding that the repaired piece is actually more beautiful for having been broken.
I was at a women’s Day Conference yesterday, where one of the speakers spoke about the relentless passion of the woman who poured perfume on the feet of Jesus. It struck me so powerfully throughout the day that sometimes we feel empty, like a shell of the person we actually aspire to be. The outer framework may seem identical to anyone unprepared to look beneath the surface of our frailty, but in times of difficulty, the shell gets thinner and thinner. And the thinner it gets, the more we fear falling, for we convince ourselves that if we fall, we will break; break into a thousand pieces, and no-one will ever be able to assemble them together again.
I often watch television shows like “Antiques Roadshow”, not only for the fascinating insight into the world of antiques, but also to consider the relative value of objects. It seems that many things accrue value not just with age, but also with limited availability. However, the one thing that immediately decreases value is any sign whatsoever of damage or brokenness. The look on the hopeful’s faces when an expert starts a comment with “Had it been in pristine condition…”, and you just know that several noughts are going to be removed from the possible perfect value.
A young friend of mine so kindly reminded me yesterday that God can take brokenness and transform it into something incredible. Like the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi, the gold repair is actually enhancing the pot. Those times when we feel devalued are actually made more precious when the hand of the Original Potter gently puts everything back together. He has a way of using every tear, every pain and every moment of uncertainty to draw us closer to Him, and craft us to become more sensitive to His compassion and love.
Vance Havner wrote:
“God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength. It is the broken alabaster box that gives forth perfume. It is Peter, weeping bitterly, who returns to greater power than ever.”
The alabaster box was able to contain the most expensive of perfume. Yet it could only spread that perfume in a confined space – within the box – until it was broken, when it then filled the house. The brokenness of our lives has the capacity to affect and influence far more than had we remained “intact”.
One of my favourite authors, Joni Eareckson-Tada, once wrote about a time when she was painting in her studio. Joni is a quadriplegic, who holds her paintbrush in her mouth. One day, she entered her studio to find that her glass water jar, which had been left on a window-shelf, had been caught in a draft and smashed into many pieces. As the sun streamed through the window, she realized that what she now had was not one jar, functional and useful, but a myriad of prisms reflecting the colours of the rainbow all over her studio.
Nobody seeks brokenness. It is painful and, by definition, shattering. But never believe that your brokenness devalues you. In God’s eyes, it can enhance you. The sum of who you are and where you have been, what you have experienced, and what you now understand, can be transformed into something whose impact can reach farther than you could ever imagine.
Once broken, we often fear that all the king’s horses and all the king’s men will be powerless to make anything better ever again. Understand that none of the broken pieces of you will ever be lost; each one has its own heavenly GPS, and God knows exactly where they are. He knows how to fuse them together to form something not only of inestimable value, but also meticulously beautiful. In the deepest and most profound way, God will, and does, hold you together.