The Japanese have an art form that is quite unique. It is called kintsugi which means “joined with gold.” They take broken pottery and repair it using a lacquer that has been mixed with gold, silver, or platinum dust. The end result is a pot or vase or jar with metallic veins replacing would-be cracks with a bright, contrasting glue holding the pieces together. What was once worthless, throw away trash is now an incredibly valuable and beautiful keepsake.
Philosophically speaking, the Japanese regard the breakage and the repair as an indispensable part of the object’s history and worth instead of something that should bring shame or be hidden. Apply those ideas to oneself or one’s marriage or any kind of once-thriving-now-deteriorated relationship and there are several clear, applicable principles to bring hope back into the equation.
The first principle is the recognition of brokenness. It is difficult, if not almost impossible, to grow stronger and healthier without first realizing something is wrong. This is why the first step in AA and just about every other credible recovery program is admitting there is a problem. Honesty is the beginning of healing.
Next comes relying on help. If a vase could make itself, it wouldn’t need a potter. If it could fix itself, it wouldn’t need glue. Allowing someone or something to offer guidance and assistance makes finding the right path easier and much more sustainable. Be it a close friend, a counselor, the Bible, or a smartphone app, relying on help helps.
One more principle to draw from a completed kintsugi repair is the realized value. Scars are stories. There is value and purpose in every life that has the breath and heartbeat to tell those stories. When those stories are heard, others who haven’t yet experienced similar wounds can know scars are proof of worth.
This is why I am a Christian. Recognizing I am broken helps me understand the power of Jesus’s life, sacrifice, and resurrection. He is my helper and his example and word keeps me on the only sustainable path. My value and worth is found by my faith in him, which makes these words that much more powerful.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. – Titus 2:11-14