What happens when something breaks? When our favorite cup is chipped or piece of our favorite toy is lost or the fine china has been scratched? The thing about brokenness is that it completely alters the thing that was broken. Shattered plates, even when meticulously put back together again, are still filled with cracks and chips; broken bones heal differently than they were before so much so that even years later x-ray machines can see what was cracked. Even small chips in coffee cups alter the whole coffee cup. When things are shattered, broken, chipped, or scratched, that thing is forever changed.
We are like that too. When we are broken, beaten down, wounded, and left with scars, we are no longer the same people we were before. Tiny fractions of what we were are permanently missing. We can feel the fissures of that break like we can feel the repaired cracks on a glued together plate. There is a sadness and grief that comes with knowing that a great deal of pain and suffering changed us so radically that we are no longer the same. Even when we begin to heal and pick up the pieces again, we end up having to rediscover ourselves. Who is this person who has cracks and scars where there used to be none?
There is an ancient form of Japanese pottery repair called kintsugi. In this process, the artist takes pottery that was broken and fixes it with a special lacquer that is dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. It “treats breakage and repair as part of the history of the object, rather than something to disguise.”
Through this process, the broken pottery has been more than just mended—it has been redeemed and made new. This is what God does to our brokenness. He picks up our shattered pieces and glues us lovingly, gently, and sometimes slowly back together—restoring us with His love, His grace, His peace. We are not just repaired so that we are slightly less broken then before, trying to hide our scars and our rough edges— we are made into dazzling pieces of art.
Your past is not something that God is ashamed of. He is not angry at your brokenness, your chipped coffee cups, or your shattered plates. He wants to redeem you. He wants to turn you into something beautiful and new. Something other than what you were before—not less than before but a person whose scars and brokenness become encased in beauty, whose cracks become a part of a beautiful design that celebrates that all things can be redeemed.