Have you ever heard of Kintsugi? It is the ancient Japanese art of mending broken objects with gold, silver or platinum. I love the way Kintsugi artists actually embrace the brokenness of the vessel instead of trying to hide it. They visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece resulting in something more beautiful than the original.
Sadly we live in a world that all to often tells us to hide our brokenness. We don’t want people to think we are weak, that we can’t do it on or own, or that we are failures. So we come up with all kinds of coping mechanisms hoping to hide or conceal the fractures that are a part of simply being human. Here is a list I found that does a great job describing some of the gymnastics we do go through to hide our brokenness from others:
- Denial: if you don’t have to see it, maybe it’s not broken
- Blame: discharge the pain by pinning it one someone else
- Run: just take off – you don’t have to face it
- Perfectionism: do it perfectly, no one will see that you feel broken
- Cynicism: just act too cool to care, like you’re above it all
- Numbing: take a pill, eat another donut, have a drink…
- Control: if I can control it, won’t look broken
One of the reasons I think David’s Refuge has been so successful is that our weekends are run by Kintsugi Masters! We simply call them hosts. These amazing volunteers are men and woman who have been intimately touched by brokenness and have chosen not to hide it, but to share it with others like themselves. Every time they share their story, every time they weep with a mom whose heart has been crushed, every time they remind a parent they are not alone and loved by God another layer of gold is added to the masterpiece called their life. They breath hope into parents who need to be reminded they too are beautiful and that their child is beautiful. They use their brokenness as a bridge to help others embrace their own fragility and to discover that beauty can be found when we stop hiding and pretending everything is “OK.”
One of our “Kintsugi Masters” is Janelle Fields. She and her husband Jeff have been hosts for David’s Refuge for the past few years. When I look at them I see the gold that outlines the fractures that were created from the near death of their precious daughter. Instead of hiding or trying to forget this very painful part of their lives, they now lovingly and compassionately share their story with moms and dads just like them. Henry Nouwen once said, “Our brokenness has no other beauty but the beauty that comes from the compassion that surrounds it.” Jeff and Janelle and all our hosts are experts at sharing the incredible compassion that is forged by the pain that is a part of living in this broken world.
You can hear a very short snippet of Janelle and Jeff’s story in this video we are using in local churches as we look for more host to help David’s Refuge grow. If you know one of our hosts, let them know how they have blessed your life and how you see the gold that mends the cracks in their beautiful lives.