In A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway used this sentence to declare the strength that can be found in the process of healing and mending. He said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong in the broken places.” He was referring to the healing and mending that takes place when people recover from the hurt and the pain that this life can give.
I have written about this very issue in reference to my mother, but there are others. I know many people who are stronger today than they were just a few years ago.
They allowed God to do His work and put in the effort to make this recovery.
This past week I was scrolling on Facebook to come across one of those “Suggested Pages” that so often appear on our feeds. I always keep on scrolling… I do not think I have clicked on more than one in the past year. But I came across one that was talking about the Japanese art form Kintsugi.
Kintsugi is the art of repairing broken pottery. Artisans mend the chips and cracks of bowls and saucers, pitchers and jars using lacquer mixed with gold dust.
Initially you might assume that the artists are trying to disguise the damage to a piece of pottery by covering it with gold leaf. But these artists aren’t trying to hide anything. They realize that the gold-infused lacquer will effectively draw the eye to the very places where the object has been cracked.
They intend to highlight the broken places. Beauty emerges from the distinctive broken places of each individual object.
In our culture today we’ve received and accepted the notion of beauty and perfection.
We prize flawless harmony and proportion.
There is the belief that flaws diminish the value of a work of art.
Not so for the Japanese.
The wear, cracks and breaks tell the story of each unique thing’s life. Beauty is not found in something’s original, pristine condition.
An object’s value lies in the life it has lived. Scars, cracks and all.
And living always comes with some wear and no small amount of damage.
Rather than hide the broken places from us, the Japanese artists want us to recognize that we are looking at a broken object that has been mended.
Mending a fragile thing reveals the deep love that its owner has for the object. It is held too dear to discard, no matter how much damage it has endured.
This is how God looks at us. He looks and see the scars. He sees the damage that we’ve done to ourselves or that has been done to us by this thing called life.
God sees… us as a work of art.
A beautiful thing.
Instead of gold dust… God uses grace to cover the cracks and to fill in the holes in our life.
In the end, grace mends broken things.
Grace abides and covers our broken pieces.
God never intended for the fragile things of this world to retain the pristine condition of a newborn. The living God meant for us to live. And living inevitably brings with it wear and breakage.
And so grace reaches its purpose by mending fragile, beloved broken things.
Christ mends the wounds inflicted on us by strangers and lovers, by family and friends, even the blunt force trauma we’ve managed to give ourselves.
None of this is magic. The really big mending projects take a lot of time and a large amount of cooperation by us.
And if the truth be told, most of the mending will take place when we pass from this life to the next.
And so, in the meantime, Jesus would very much like it if we could give ourselves and each other a break.
We are all terribly fragile and already more than a little damaged.
God loves each of us too much to even think about discarding us.
We see that God eventually mends broken things like you and me.
And the end result is… breathtakingly beautiful.