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All My Favorite People are Broken – Kintsukuroi Revisited

We snuck out to the back porch ready to tell each other secrets in the swampy Georgia heat.

Sitting under the whirring fan, wine in hand, feet up, and heads laid back, we started our confessions.

She broke her daughter’s spirit.

I broke my son’s confidence.

Her marriage was cracking where it used to be strong.

My marriage was chipped and sometimes it hurt to pick it up to look at it.

Her church broke her heart.

My church broke mine.

My old soulmate unfriended me.

Her colleagues were lying.

So much brokenness. Like someone knocked over a china cabinet right there in front of us. Shattered plates, chipped cups, cracked bowls. We were broken. Our most treasured relationships were broken. We sighed.

I remembered Kintsukuroi.

K kintsugi-kintsukuroi-centuries-old-art-of-repairing-broken-pottery-with-gold-2

I wrote about it two years ago, and it remains one of my most popular posts about compassion, forgiveness, and parenting (please read that here and come back). Kintsukuroi:

“Kintsugi (Japanese: “golden repair”) is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum….As a philosophy it treats breakage and repair as a part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.” (wikipedia)

But it’s one thing to learn about Kintsukuroi, it’s another thing to accept it.

I still don’t want to be broken. But I am.

I still don’t want to break anyone. But I do.

I want to be the mom waiting in the kitchen with a smile, warm cookies, and a big jug of healing glue when my kids come home shattered by peers, teachers, their own choices, or physical pain. But sometimes I make my child cry over spilled milk.

I want to be the friend who answers phone calls and texts with warmth, wit, and wisdom when someone feels rejected, confused, and indignant. But sometimes I try to fix my friends with too many words, too many tips.

I want to be the wife who beckons my husband to bed with soft tenderness and joy in a world feels incessantly sharp and cruel. But sometimes I ruin date night, or just regular TV night, with my complaints, selfishness, and expectations.

Instead of being the healer, sometimes I’m the wounder.

I’m not the healer. I’m not the vastly creative Artist sprinkling gold and grace over the deep cracks in the hearts of people I love. The Kintsukuroi Artist is God. He sees us, hears us, sings over us, and heals us. That’s our hope.

K white bowl

I wiped the sweat off my neck and took another sip of wine. There’s lots of broken dishes between me and my friend. Lots of gold gleaming in the cracks. I see where she is letting the Artist pour the gold in her heart and home. I see her shining. I let her see where I haven’t let the Artist work yet, but hope to. I wonder how soon it will be before I’m more golden repair than original pottery? I wonder if that’s the goal?

She and I have chosen each other because we don’t hide the broken dishes. We know that’s really all we have with which to serve each other. We nudge each other to remember that it’s not up to us to fix all this. We point each other to God and his grace.

Then the gold pours in.

* * * *

K large-kintsugi-bowl-16-by-4

©Lakeside Pottery

How to begin to welcome Kinstukuroi in relationships:

  1. Openness: Things aren’t going well with you and the person you care about. Look at the cracks and chips in their hearts. Did you do that with your expectations, words, tone, reactions, or absence? Encourage them to tell you how they feel and listen closely. Perhaps pray: “God, make me a safe place for the people I love to share their real thoughts and feelings about hard things.”

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

  1. Acceptance: Surrender your broken, cracked relating to God. You will never be perfect. You are going to wound your spouse, parent, kids, and friends, even though you are trying your very best. Perhaps pray: “God, I’m a broken person loving broken people. I invite you to fill in all the gaps, because there are many.”

“I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” – Romans 7:18 

  1. Confession: When you snap, shame, and ignore the people you love, be quick to recognize it. You smashed that teacup. It was wrong. You sinned against the people God entrusted to you. Go quickly and admit you’re wrong, out loud and face to face without qualifications. Perhaps pray: “God, I confess I am short-tempered/ distracted/ demanding/ __. I’m sorry I hurt the people you love.”

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” – Psalm 51:17

  1. Forgiveness: Grant it generously. Receive it deeply. When your friend/ spouse/ child/ parent/ sibling is sassy, deceptive, lazy, and wrong, and then apologizes, forgive them. Look them in the eyes and say, “I forgive you. Would you like a fresh start?

When you apologize to someone you love, and they forgive you, receive that fresh start. Most importantly, receive the Lord’s powerful, unceasing forgiveness. Watch those cracks be filled with gold. Perhaps pray: “God, thank you for your constant mercy and grace. I need your forgiveness. I humbly receive it.”

“Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you.” – Colossians 3:13

* * * *

K kintsukuroi

“the piece is more beautiful for having been broken”

“All My Favorite People are Broken” is a beautiful song by Over the Rhine. You can hear the song and see the lyrics of this Kintsukuroi song here.

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

Some prayers are better left unspoken
I just wanna hold you
And let the rest go

All my friends are part saint and part sinner
We lean on each other
Try to rise above

We’re not afraid to admit we’re all still beginners
We’re all late bloomers
When it comes to love

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers
Step forward
You can stay right here
You don’t have to go

Is each wound you’ve received
Just a burdensome gift?
It gets so hard to lift
Yourself up off the ground

But the poet says, We must praise the mutilated world
We’re all workin’ the graveyard shift
You might as well sing along

All my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

(As for) your tender heart—
This world’s gonna rip it wide open
It ain’t gonna be pretty
But you’re not alone

‘Cause all my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

Orphaned believers, skeptical dreamers
You’re welcome
Yeah, you’re safe right here
You don’t have to go

‘Cause all my favorite people are broken
Believe me
My heart should know

©Over the Rhine, The Long Surrender

K Coffret_Kintsugi_SARKIS_hd

©K. Coffret

 


©Aimee Fritz & Family Compassion Focus, 2017.

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