Seeing beauty in brokenness
The greatest thing that we can do for whole-hearted living is be vulnerable, to be honest about cracks.
Years ago I learned about a specific kind of Japanese art, called kintsugi. This art is a special kind of art because you take the broken pieces of ceramics and mend them together with a clear bonding agent that is mixed with gold powder. This is used in the cracks to put the pieces back together. Instead of trying to camouflage the cracks like I often do when trying to repair something, this makes the cracks truly stand out. The gold cracks bring a new kind of beauty and reveal a new wholeness. I have heard that some of this art fetches a higher price than the “un-damaged” counterparts.
The world around me often tells a different story. I can spend hundreds of dollars on things to try to make any wrinkle disappear or be camouflaged on my face. Social media accounts often share #relationshipgoals #bestlife #blessed with images of a “crackless” happy life. Even in relationships with others we sometimes do all we can to avoid conflict or draw attention to a problem, trying to pretend like it just isn’t there. The thing is, trying to appear to have a life like a flawless piece of pottery can be exhausting.
Social worker Brene Brown has spent much of her career studying the impact of shame on people’s lives. Her work has helped her realize that the ways that we try to conceal and hide our shame just feeds it. In fact, the greatest thing that we can do for whole-hearted living is be vulnerable, to be honest about our cracks. She talks about how in society we often equate vulnerability with weakness. In fact, what gives us the most strength is when we are honest and vulnerable about our lives, including the cracks.
When I fully feel the impact of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness is not when I have spent my time telling God how great I am. Nope. I am in awe of God’s grace when I can’t hide from the shame I carry around and God meets me there in my vulnerability.
God meets me in that space and fills the cracks with the golden powder of forgiveness and grace that reminds me that I am worthy not because I am “perfect” but because I am a child of God.
On Sunday mornings in the worship service we often begin with a time of confession and absolution. It’s a time where we get to speak out loud the fact that we have screwed up, we are broken, and we have hurt others. Then we hear the proclamation that God loves us, sees us, and forgives us. God calls us to share this love and forgiveness with others, as God has shared it with us.
How do we create sacred space for us to be vulnerable with one another, to be honest about the joys, successes, and the cracks? How can we enter a space with one another where we can be honest about the pain we experience and truly listen to the pain in others’ lives? How can we be honest with others about the ways that others have hurt us and listen deeply to the ways we have hurt them? How can we create space where we can hear about how the cracks in our systems bring pain into the lives of the neighbors around us?
When we take the time to build the types of relationships in community where this kind of vulnerable honesty can exist, the result is stronger than the “fake perfection.” When we listen deeply and are honest and vulnerable with one another this helps us find a new space that is filled with innovation and creative solutions.
In a Nobel lecture poet Derek Walcott said, “Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole.” How is God inviting us to reassemble our fragments in community with one another and with ourselves? It can be scary to be vulnerable about the cracks, but the result can be more beautiful and valuable then we ever could have imagined when we were clinging to a facade of perfection.
Feb. 20, 2019
Pastor Jim and Deaconess Kristin take turns writing weekly devotions for the Chapel of the Resurrection. Contact them here:
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future