Kintsugi: Repairing and Appreciating that Which Was Broken
As Kay and I prepare to celebrate our 47th year of marriage, I can’t help but give thanks to the Father for His wonderful gift of such a godly helpmate. While 47 years is certainly an accomplishment to be proud of; our marriage, like many, is not without its ups and downs. As of 2022, we are now 30 years removed from the greatest crisis within our marriage thus far.
Any marriage crisis, regardless of the offense or brokenness involved, can most certainly be a pivotal turning point in what should be the most treasured relationship we share apart from the one we have with our Lord Jesus. However, such a crisis doesn’t have to lead to the end of a marriage, to the contrary, a crisis can be an opportunity for positive change and growth within the marriage when both parties are willing to submit themselves, like clay, into the capable hands of the Potter who created them. Embracing and engaging change brought about by a crisis is difficult and our desire is not to minimize the depth of hurt such wounds can leave. Rather, our hope is to highlight how giving up on love, due to our circumstances, can oftentimes create a far worse outcome than embracing the pain, challenges, and change brought about through the struggles in marriage. Fear and vulnerability can certainly be a big part of brokenness and may very well shine a spotlight on what once was viewed of as a strength and unbreakable, can be in fact a weakness when left unguarded that oftentimes reveals how vulnerable and fragile a marriage relationship can be, much like a piece of precious pottery.
The Japanese art of Kintsugi, which means ‘golden repair’ or ‘join with gold’, offers us a lovely metaphor for the growth and value that such repairs used in restoring broken pottery can have in the restoration of personal relationships. This traditional repair process, dating back to the 15th century, would take a broken piece of pottery and repair it with a specialized lacquer that when dried is later painted with a gold dust creating gold seams in place of the original cracks. The resulting finished piece often is more beautiful than the original. This Japanese perfected process of repairing broken pottery makes no attempt to cover up the break, in fact, this ancient technique of repairs enhances and enriches the object, that in the eyes of many has a greater value than the original piece. By illuminating the repair as part of the pottery’s history, restoration reveals a piece more beautiful after the break and subsequent repair. Rather than throwing away the damaged pieces of pottery or trying to disguise or minimize the break, the craftsman creates a beautiful piece of art for all to see. Kintsugi is not a quick repair process and can be quite costly, however the time and expense of such restoration is worth the investment. In the same way, marriage repairs, like pottery, take time and cannot be rushed, and when performed by the One who created the institution of marriage, results in beautiful thing of value.
Kintsugi is a visual reminder of the central and even beautiful role restoration can play in our lives. We all experience disappointment and loss in our lives and we’ve come to realize that what matters most in determining our fulfillment and happiness is our capacity for repair and resilience. Accepting change challenges our expectations of perfection and helps promote concepts such as forgiveness, acceptance, and compassion. After a time of loss or betrayal, people may often ask, “Will your marriage ever be the same again?” Short answer, no, our marriage was forever changed by our crisis, yet when we chose to put the pieces back together, we discovered that our lives had more dimension, more texture than before. Choosing to let go of our need for perfection, we grew more and more in our knowledge and dependance on His perfection. For us, marriage counseling was a kind of golden repair, helping with that piecing-together process of two broken people. The pain and anguish of failed marriages is all too real for us, we are both products of broken homes and that is just one of the many reasons we are so deeply passionate about helping couples avoid failed marriages today. I’ve often said that no one should go through a marriage crisis alone unless they choose to. Please hear this, if you her nothing else, God loves divorced people and so do we. We realize that many have felt the deep pain associated with divorce and we also understand why God hates divorce and the impact it has on all involved. As part of the Marriage Ministry team at the Creek, our passion for strong marriages comes from a time of great weakness and vulnerability, and our desire is to help other couples see the real beauty that can result from being broken and subsequently restored. Like the craftsman adept in the art of Kintsugi, we have learned to embrace and find value in our flaws and imperfections.
Isaiah 64:8 “But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
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