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.
Thanks Lizzie, great post. We’re so programmed to hide our brokenness, but often that’s where we can connect the most deeply & shine most beautifully. Thanks for being such an inspirational Kintsugi pot. X
Thanks Joel, you’re awesome! Thanks for being such a joy to be around, for your encouragement and your love of Disney songs!
Lizzie, this is beautiful and echoes so much of how I feel in my singleness, yet longing for a family. Thank you for being so vulnerable. Your honesty is moving and inspiring xxx
Thanks Eileen. I think the pain of childlessness reaches much further than couples who struggle with infertility. Thank you for your honesty too. You’re going to be an amazing vicar! Sending lots of love xxxxxx
Thankyou so much for sharing this. It has encouraged and reassured me today. The imagery of the broken pottery and gold filled cracks is one I’ll keep with me. I’ll join you in saying I am broken too but trust in God’s grace that the rugged cracks in my pottery jar of life are creating a beautiful masterpiece better than any non cracked life I may have planned for myself.
Thanks Clare. Thank you for the inspiration you bring and for exposing the unhealed bits in your life. You have wrestled with a lot and yet you have remained faithful. I do promise to pray for you, for beauty and gold to shine through your life and for hope and joy. I’m sorry life hasn’t turned out as you hoped, but you are beautiful and I pray for a beautiful future for you. xxxx
Thanks for this lovely piece Lizzie – the last six months have been full of death and loss for us …. and it still goes on. I too feel very broken.
Thanks Pam, I’m sorry for the pain you have felt and had to witness over the past few months. Thank you for sharing your brokenness. I am convinced that even in your brokenness you have been able to encourage and support those around you. I promise to pray for the gold to flow, for the treasure within you to give you strength and hope. Sending lots of love to you and Bob xxxx
Hi Lizzie – as I am going through a further sense of grief and loss at the moment I revisited you blog on kintsugi as it really helped me last November. I find the idea helpful especially at this moment when I feel I am just a collection of shattered shards. I have just been praying that God will take all the bits and make something out of them. Thank you again for being vulnerable. xx
Pam, I too will pray that God will take the bits and make something beautiful. I believe that nothing is irredeemable but sometimes struggle with waiting to see the beauty and the fruit. I pray that God will encourage you, even in these dark times. Lots of love xxxx
wow. another lady i admire. i read this as Sheila usually writes. you are extraordinarily strong brave women. may your god continue to care for you.