Recently, I read a story about Kintsugi—the 500-year-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with precious metals. The art is thought to have been started by a commander in the Japanese military. The commander, unhappy with repair work that was done on a bowl that was part of a tea set that he loved, asked craftsmen to come up with a better way to repair it that was aesthetically pleasing. Instead of trying to hide the flaw, the craftsmen used gold to add value and highlight the beauty of brokenness. The word “Kintsugi” is translated “joining with gold.”
This week we started our new series “Surprised by Grace” with a special guest speaker. It truly was a great service with an incredible message of beauty and hope. He used the example of now famous composers that had incredible flaws and failures, and were largely ignored by the people around them due to their imperfections. His message focused on looking beyond the flaws of others to see that God’s strength and grace are made perfect in weakness, and asked us to be willing to “walk across the street” to meet people who are potentially hard to love, but may also possess subtle beauty.
Everyone has a story. Like every story, we all experience hardship and conflict. As Christians, we’ve been taught that God permits the hard seasons of life to draw us closer to Himself, and to help us develop the perseverance to diligently follow Him. However, we’ve all experienced challenging seasons have left us raw and in pain. Situations where we can’t see how God could use any of it for good. Seasons that leave us unrecognizable—exposing our cracks, chips, and rough edges for all to see.
Sometimes we meet people in the midst of conflict, and the picture of their life on display isn’t an accurate reflection of who they really are. Brokenness mars their beauty. Their edges become especially sharp to protect themselves from more pain or shame. While doing everything to push people away, what they really need is someone to come into their lives that is willing to be a place of refuge and a beacon of hope, to see beauty in their brokenness, to recognize in them what pain has distorted and to remind them that “He makes beauty from ashes.” This is hard but good work. Not taking someone at face value goes against our intrinsic methods of self-preservation, but good investments aren’t always easy ones. While we can’t always relate to someone’s specific pain, we can still relate to the way pain can affect every facet of our lives.
While none of us are immune to hardship, we all have a choice to allow God to be the ultimate artist-- painting the picture of our lives that most accurately represents Him in us—using our deepest flaws and softening our rough chips and edges to highlight His grace, goodness and healing. Just like the art of Kintsugi, allowing God to shine through our cracks adds value to our pain. Value that helps us relate to the deep pain of others, and be an example of His grace shining through us--even at our worst. A grace that Is available to all who seek it.
What is a practical way to find something to love in a hard-to-love person?
What was a time in your life where some kind of pain or conflict caused you to push people away?
Lets read Isaiah 61:1-3 How can we apply that passage to our lives when we're trying to show love and grace to difficult people?
Jake McGregor, Pastor of Missional & Spiritual Formation