Joy and celebration are among the beautiful parts of life. But as night has its day and light has its dark, there is always contrast – a bright and a shadow side of all things.
Heartbreak is a terrain we all travel at least once in our human journey. I’m not talking about the feeling of sadness, but rather when your heart has been roasted on a spit and feels like acupuncture needles are slivered in with a dull ache. I’m talking about when your heart’s been impaled, shredded and ripped from your chest, trampled on the floor in a puddle of blood and tears. When you walk around in the world with a heavy pooling weight in your chest cavity, feeling as though a slight pull of an invisible string could unravel you in a pile of broken bits in the grocery store next to the bright rows of milk cartons. Death by heartbreak on isle 4.
True heartbreak is a terrain we all travel.
Recently, a friend of mine returned home for her father’s funeral. In the aftermath, we sat at grocery store watching the swarms of people pass to and fro, clothes and wallets, smiling faces, shopping carts with particular items for their particular lives.
We talked about how there are people walking around everywhere in the world with parts of them broken, with parents that won’t return, single moms, kids without their real dads, relationships thrown by the wayside. There are broken people everywhere, walking through life, sometimes barely hanging on. And yet all we see is clothes and wallets, and the smiles they put on, the masks we use to hide our pain. This is the shadow side where all of us feel a little, or a lot, alone.
But I don’t like to believe in broken things. I believe in restoration. I’ve seen it too many times in my life, how God can make something beautiful out of pain.
In Japan, they practice a fascinating art called Kintsugi, which means, “to repair with gold.” When a bowl is broken into pieces it’s not thrown away, but rather put back together with gold seams (Kintsugi images). There’s no attempt to hide the damage or to pretend that the pottery hasn’t been broken. Instead, the repair is illuminated with the gold used to seal the cracks and pieces together again.
The Japanese philosophy of embracing the flawed, or imperfect, shows up in this broken pottery. The gold highlights the cracks and repairs. It tells the story of an event in the life of this object. Instead of being thrown away, when the bowl has been broken or damaged, the life of the bowl continues instead of ends.
I love the concept of Kintsugi because it’s aligned with the heart of God. God can make something stunningly beautiful out of pain and heartbreak. He can restore relationships, heal disease or addiction, put families back together, and transform hearts. Nothing is impossible with God.
I love Kintsugi because not only is the bowl restored, but because of the gold it’s repaired with, the bowl becomes more precious and valuable than before it was damaged.
If you’re experiencing heartbreak, God is the healer. We can lay our burdens down at his feet because He cares for us. We can pray. We can ask God to show up and to remind us that we are loved overflowing. We can ask him to heal our heart and restore our broken things so they become beautiful parts of our story.
We can take walks in nature and appreciate the flowers, the green grass, the breeze, and the blue sky. We can enlist our support network of friends. We can watch funny movies and read books. We can find a therapist to help talk out our feelings (How to Find a Therapist You Love). There are still many things we can choose, even if we didn’t choose the heartbreak.
And remember God loves you, and is for your highest good. Keep joy, love, and hope in your heart. God can make all things new and beautiful, and better than they were before, inlaid with gold that shimmers in the sun.