Sometimes breaks in life are unexpected. You think you’re about to receive something good, only to find it’s been broken, either by accident, rough handling, or malicious intent. Whether you’re the one who broke the thing or the one whose gift arrives in pieces, it can hurt your heart to see the damage done to something that could have been a treasure.
I helped my aunt put on a party for all the November to January birthdays yesterday. The event was a great success–everyone wore 70s themed outfits and afros, danced to groovy music, and laughed the night away. But the night wasn’t without its mishaps.
One of those mishaps involved our “Super Freaky, Groovy Gift Raffle”. Throughout the night, we raffled off a series of mystery gifts. I would read a clue, the mystery gift would be held for all to see, people would put their tickets in and we’d pull out a winner. This worked well until I read this clue:
Pull me out when you receive a gift that will give your heart a lift.
As soon as I said “lift,” the package leaped from the holder’s hands. It danced off her fingertips to the tile floor. Everyone gasped (my gasp amplified by the microphone I held) and froze in place.
We proceeding with the raffle, but inside I was freaking out. You see, I knew that what was inside that sturdy box was fragile and breakable. I prayed the tissue paper padding had cushioned it, but in my heart, I knew it was broken.
When the winner lifted the lid, the wrapped bundle still lay in the center of the box. It appeared whole. But as soon as she started unwrapping it, I heard the pieces clinking against each other. It was broken.
We gave the winner another gift in exchange for the broken one, but it hurt to throw the broken one away. “It sure was pretty,” my uncle said as he put the pieces in the trash. I wished I knew how to fix it. It was only two pieces. It wasn’t shattered. Surely it could be put back together? I lifted out a piece. It felt light as breath in my hands. The overhead light caught the gold sparkle and winked off the surface. It had been a beautiful creation.
For many, 2017 felt like that broken vase. When a new year dawns, you have no idea what it holds. The way the new year was handed over to you may have made you think there’s no way this year isn’t broken. Though it may have looked like it had survived the worst, when you unwrapped it, your beautiful gift was in pieces.
2017 might have seemed broken before you received it. You, like many others I see, may be beyond ready for a new year to begin. You are expectant. You long for and look for the gift of a new year and the promise of a blank page. But I have to ask, what did you do with the broken pieces of 2017?
A gift isn’t a given. There’s no guarantee you will get one, or that it will be something you want. You can stamp FRAGILE: HANDLE WITH CARE all over it, and it may still arrive in pieces. Yes, a new year may be a new page or even a new chapter, but what happened on the previous pages impacts the rest of the story. So I have to ask, again, what did you do with the broken pieces of 2017?
I heard about a Japanese art that’s an encouraging alternative to trashing those pieces.
Kintsukuroi (金繕い, きんつくろい, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.
The first image I saw was of a blue bowl with bright gold seams. Instead of putting the pieces back together in a way that seeks to conceal where breaks have happened, this technique highlights them. What was an ordinary bowl became a work of art. Talk about a picture of making everything beautiful in its time!
To me, kintsukuroi is a beautiful illustration of how God can take a sinner broken by sin and put him back together again. Through faith in, and obedience to, Jesus Christ, we can be healed and made whole. Instead of seams of gold, our broken pieces can be bonded together with a red thread throughout–the blood of Jesus!
At the end of 2016, my story received some rough handling. I knew 2017 was going to have its share of brokenness. But when choosing my word for 2017, I landed on “share.” I think, in part, God wanted me to share for a specific reason:
Instead of hiding the sites of my brokenness from the world and seeking to maintain the illusion that I’ve never been broken, I needed to show how God uniquely put the pieces of me back together as only He could. My brokenness is clearly visible, but God made that broken beautiful in His time. He made art out of my careless handling of my life.
Give God your broken pieces; He will make a masterpiece of them.
P.S. Want to know more about how God made a masterpiece with my broken pieces? Stay tuned for more details about my newest book, Break Right, which will (prayerfully) be released February 13, 2018!