Kintsugi (which translates to English as, “golden joinery”) is a Japanese art form which employs lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum to repair broken or cracked pottery.
This is likely a foreign concept to our modern Walmart worldview of, “meh, just buy a new one!” But kintsugi is so much more than some ancient superglue secret—it is a deeply philosophical psychology of self-identity.
According to the “Traditional Kyoto” website, kintsugi is a philosophy which, “…treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.” In other words, in the same way that great, great-great grandma Sarah’s butter dish is worthy of repair because it holds the memories of four-to-five generations of family history; likewise, our heart, once fractured, split, or cracked, hold a history, a bevy of memories, a voice, a past, a story, and most of all, it holds value.
I remember about a decade ago, driving alone in my car blasting a Pantera song on my car stereo, hitting repeat over and over again, singing with the clanging, clashing, discordant heavy metal tune with all the passion of a Scottish regiment warrior marching into battle. The song, ugly as it was, had become my anthem.
Look at me now
Inherit my life
Over and over again, I vocal fried those words from the depths of a hollow pit where I sat in silence with a soul long covered with cobwebs, preferring the darkness to the exposure of light…because where light was…there were people; and where people were, there was PAIN.
I cringe now looking back on that season in my life because I was playing right into the Adversary’s hand. God was telling me through His Word that I was knit together in my mother’s womb, and that while I was there, being fearfully and wonderfully made, HE was there with me! Those 9 months of gestation, I was in the very heart of where I strive every single day in a prayer closet to find myself again—in His presence. Safe. Surrounded by love and perfect shalom.
But the Adversary wants us to forget all that. He doesn’t want us to know who we are. He wants us to believe we are rotten, ugly, worthless, unlovable, unforgivable. So, he stirs up our mind and our heart and our emotions until we are whipped up in a frenzy, screaming, “I’m broken!” on the top of our lungs—thinking in some distorted way that some heavy metal singer has more insight into our hearts than our own Creator.
That’s where kintsugi comes in. This golden joinery isn’t just some smelly tube of super glue—but the filling in of the cracks with something precious—something of value. Lots of kintsugi pottery is done with 24K gold, making in many cases, the cracks the most valuable part of the pottery.
I used to look in the mirror and all I could see were the scars. The scars represented pain, trauma, surgeries, being bullied, rejection, heartache, shame. If only these scars weren’t on my face! I spent decades in that mindset, until I learned about kintsugi. As I was listening to it being explained, and photos of golden cracked pottery were being shown, the Holy Spirit flashed a picture in my mind. It was a picture of my face, with a 24K gold scar running across my forehead and down my reconstructed nose. That was the first time I saw my face through His eyes. I saw the design. The intentionality. And the beauty of my scars.
But the scars on my face were only half the battle. My heart was pretty battle scarred too. That’s the long part of the journey—digging to the deepest dregs of our despair and handing the crumbling pieces over to Jesus. When I began my healing process, I remember not wanting to unlock the soul cellar and show Jesus all the smelly, rat-infested, moldy memories of my hurt and pain. I was ashamed of these memories, but Jesus wasn’t. Remember, this is the guy who touched dead bodies and lepers, and He didn’t get sick, they got well!
As I handed each sorrow over to him, one by one, instead of plugging His nose or sending it flying into a trash bag, I saw in my mind, Jesus gently taking each hurt and placing it in a curio cabinet. After everything was displayed in the cabinet, through the Light of His love, the once ugly memories took on a certain look of beauty—as does anything once viewed through the lenses of His glory rather than our pain. Then, He took a key and locked the cabinet and put the key in His pocket. The memories were now treasures, and they were no longer mine, but His; and they were safe from being manhandled or further broken by those who did not know their value.
Jesus also reminded me that day that He has some scars too—on His head on and on His side. And after His resurrection, one of the first things He did was appear to His disciples to proudly show off those scars. Those scars bore a testimony. Thomas didn’t believe Jesus had risen. But he believed the scars. Do you see that? Thomas didn’t believe JESUS, but he believed the scars! So also do our scars bear testimony of what we have been through, and WHO got us through it.
Have YOU been broken, cracked, or shattered? Jesus wants ALL of you—and He wants THOSE parts of you too. He wants to fill those cracks with pure gold. He wants to make your brokenness part of your story. Part of your value. Part of your joy. The Adversary is telling you that you are broken; but your Savior is telling you that you are beautifully broken.
“God will not look you over for medals, degrees, or diplomas; but for scars.”
― Elbert Hubbard