Kintsugi is the Japanese art of restoring broken pottery or china. Rather than discarding the fragmented pieces of pottery, the artist reassembles them using a precious metal- such as liquid gold- to highlight the repairs. There is no attempt to make it look new or hide the “scars” of its brokenness. The technique adds value to the original object as the master artists creates something more beautiful than when it was new. Each Kintsugi becomes a unique work of art!
Kintsugi became a great visual to me to illustrate how God can take the shattered remnants of our broken lives and turn them into a unique work of art.
In fact, I have experienced God guiding me through a very similar process to restore my life. About ten years ago, my husband took his life after a twelve-year battle with clinical depression. As I stood in the shock and aftermath of his suicide, I had no idea how to begin to pick up the pieces. Was there any way to put it all back together? Could life ever be good again, much less beautiful?
"I live the reality of God integrating all the devastation from the depression and suicide to create a new life that is good, beautiful, and fulfilling. I like to say that God Kintsugied me!"
In working with my mental health counselor, he shared that my goal would be to let God take everything that had happened and integrate it into my life. The integration would be the wholeness and restoration I so desperately desired. It all sounded like psychobabble to me. I had no context to understand what he meant. But today, I do. I live the reality of God integrating all the devastation from the depression and suicide to create a new life that is good, beautiful, and fulfilling. I like to say that God Kintsugied me!
This bowl represents my life before the mental illness and suicide. It might not appear to be very special to you, but I loved my life. It was everything I ever wanted. I was grateful each day for what I had. And I wanted it to stay like that forever!
Then the mental illness and suicide shattered that picture-perfect life. As I stood in the ultimate defeat of suicide, my life was completely torn apart. Every part of me was deeply impacted and injured - my body, my mind, my emotions, my relationships, and my spirit. At that point, I didn’t know much, but I knew my life would never be the same.
Embracing Four Truths for Healing and Restoration
God taught me some important truths that I had to embrace, believe, and live out every day as I walked through his plan of healing and restoration for me.
TRUTH #1: When our life is too broken for us to fix, the only choice we have is to trust God to do what only He can do.
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, ‘Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God’” (Mark 10: 27 NLT).
When we get to the end of ourselves and realize that what we face is too much for us to handle, Jesus steps in and does what only He can do.
TRUTH #2: God wants us to put all the broken pieces into His hands and surrender daily to His plan of healing and restoration.
“God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before him” (Psalm 18:20 MSG).
We can be tempted to hold onto some of the loss and pain, but He needs all of it to create the life He envisions for us. One step at a time, one prayer at a time, one day at a time, God began to integrate all the fragments of my shattered life. He used it all – the good, the bad, and the tragic – to transform my life into something new and beautiful.
This is how I see my life today. Today, I know what it feels like to be put back together. I stand in amazement of God’s perfect plan that included being open and honest about my husband’s depression and suicide. Part of His plan of healing for me included starting a Family Grace Group in my church in San Diego. Later, God opened the way for me to become the Executive Director of Survivor of Suicide Loss, a non-profit that provides postvention support services for those left behind after a suicide. Being able to share hope with others adds a richness and beauty to my life every day. Only God, the most creative being in the universe and master artist, can take depression and suicide and integrate them to create a life that is good, fulfilling and, in some ways, more beautiful than before.
TRUTH #3: Life can be good again, even after the worst happens, if we trust God’s plan for us.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT).
I am truly grateful that Jesus did not hide my scars, but rather chose to display them to create the life I now live. I will always bear the scars, and even years later, at times, I experience the pain that caused them. However, I have come to view them as strangely beautiful and an important part of who I have become.
I love that Jesus still bears the scars of His great love for us. Jesus could have healed his scars and come back without them. Perhaps He didn’t because He wants us to know that our scars are important, and He will use them to display his love and grace to others.
TRUTH #4: Your scars become beautiful when they reflect the love and grace of God to others.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11 ESV).
Life can be hard, and many things invade our world and destroy the lives we have lovingly created. Mental illness, divorce, loss of a child, or suicide can leave us thinking our lives are too broken to be fixed. While it is true that the life we knew will never be the same and it is impossible to go back to what was, it is also true that God is not finished yet. When we put our lives into the hands of the master artist and trust him to put us back together, our brokenness will not be something to hide. God, the master Kintsugi artist, will make you even more beautiful - thanks to the scars!
Joyce Bruggeman is the Executive Director of Survivors of Suicide Loss in San Diego, CA. The organization supports those who have lost a loved one to suicide. She has also written a book, Reflections from the Everlasting Bridge (written under Joyce Turner), that shares how God met her every step along her journey back to wholeness (available on Amazon).
*If you found the topics of grieving and grace in this blog helpful, make sure to find more discussion about this in our Family Grace Group workbook.