It hits me suddenly, straight to my heart, then there’s that sick feeling when the room is spinning and finally a lingering sadness hovering over me, shrouding each conversation until I leave. I drive home, alone, venting my anger at any driver or cyclist who doesn’t adhere to the highway code and any traffic light daring to turn red. When you’re sad, there’s an anger that can swell up from deep within, scaring you, as words that are not normally part of your vocabulary are fired out of your mouth. I arrive home, quietly closing the door, offering monosyllabic responses to Dave’s questions. I’m not ready to talk about the evening or why I’m behaving like a moody teenager. I don’t want to say it out loud, but I know deep inside why I feel so sad. I’m still broken.
Being broken is a problem because everyone, including yourself wants to fix it.
As I lay in bed that night, the cracks in my heart exposed once more, I wonder what it would look like to be fixed, mended, healed. And if I was fixed, would I also be thinner? That would be great.
I thought the cracks would have started to heal by now, that I would have left the sadness behind me. But no, those open wounds remain. With each reminder of my loss; seeing pregnant women or small babies, a healthy scan photo on Facebook –why do people do that?- a disinterested doctor without answers, the loneliness that comes with a quiet house or the realisation that I’m getting older, the cracks reappear once again. In Psalm 31 David describes how in his distress he has become like broken pottery, and that is how I often feel. Broken.
At the moment Christians are getting all excited about Japanese pottery – true story. Kintsugi, means ‘golden joinery’, it is the art of repairing broken pottery with a gold resin. The cracks in the pottery remain but they are filled with gold, creating a unique and beautiful piece that displays the golden threads of its story. A story that takes it from a pile of broken pieces to a beautiful ornament, transforming it from an everyday object into a stunning work of art. By repairing the broken pottery in this way the artist is celebrating the cracks, it‘s the cracks that make it beautiful.
We often see brokenness as ugly, a weakness, something to be hidden, quickly fixed, hoping the scars will eventually become invisible. But I don’t want to be uncomfortable with my brokenness, I don’t want to be ashamed of the cracks, like the Kintsugi pottery, those cracks are part of my story. I’m not seeking invisible healing, I want to remember my journey, to acknowledge both the cracks that remain and those that have already been healed. In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says – “we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us”. As I think about the chipped, worn, battered jars that hold this treasure, I can also see cracks. Cracks formed by the painful moments, when hope is distant and life is a struggle. Even with their battered, damaged exterior these fragile jars are still able to hold the treasure within them, but this treasure is not the kind to just be admired. It is not static. It flows. It is alive. It is powerful. When cracks appear and splinter off, this golden treasure runs into them, filling them, illuminating them, making them beautiful.
I know that as a follower of a God I must have faith that my wounds can be healed, the cracks filled in, the pain removed. But I don’t think our aim is to be fixed. I don’t think that’s what our life on earth is about. I think it can also be about allowing the cracks to show.
I can’t leave my grief behind, I still struggle to hang out with pregnant women, I find it hard to be enthusiastic about endless baby photos, I get scared about the future and having an empty house. But I can’t fix these problems, I have to let God’s grace flow into the cracks and His strength into the weak points, trusting that He will create something even more beautiful than the life I’ve longed for.
That is why, for now, I tell you that I am broken. And I’m ok with it.