As kintsugi continues to become better known, I see more and more people posting about it on social media, and it thrills me to see more people finding comfort and encouragement in this meaningful art form.
But that doesn't mean that I agree with everything I see posted.
Brokenness is not beautiful
I often encounter slogans claiming that the meaning of kintsugi is that there is "beauty in brokenness," and I hear people offering that as good news to people they know who are feeling broken and bruised by life.
I not only (quite strongly) disagree with this idea, I think it misses the point of kintsugi altogether. In fact, I think it runs the risk of being harmful to the very people they are trying to encourage.
I spend a lot of time with broken things and lot of time breaking stones in order to do my work. There's nothing beautiful about the brokenness itself. It's just a bunch of fragments scattered about.
The truth is that feeling broken hurts. It sucks. It's unpleasant, painful, scary, and all around a miserable place to be.
The good news is that there's nothing about the kintsugi metaphor for living that requires you to find anything good, beautiful, or worth treasuring in the experience of brokenness itself.
Healing from brokenness IS beautiful
Kintsugi shows us that the beauty is in the healing (i.e., the repair). By definition, kintsugi is the repair. Until a broken object has been repaired, there's no kintsugi to talk about.
It's the kintsugi gold that reconnects the broken pieces that gives the result so much beauty.
The beauty is not in the brokenness itself, it's in the healing. It's in what we do with the brokenness after life has broken some part of our heart.
The encouragement that kintsugi offers is to remind us that the brokenness doesn't last forever and that it is possible to make something beautiful out of what feels like scattered shards of screaming pain as we heal.
That hope of beautiful healing is the hope that we can cling to through the worst of the pain. It's also the hope we can offer to others afterwards as we have the courage to let the gold in our scars show with pride instead of hiding them away in shame.
Are you feeling broken by life?
If you are in the midst of feeling broken by life, let me reassure you that there's no need to find beauty in that brokenness. Grieve, cry, move through the pain as you need to. But don't call the pain itself beautiful.
Seek instead to work toward healing—in whatever small steps you can muster—with the assurance that someday treasure will be found in the scars that the healing leaves behind.
You are beautiful for having healed, not just for having been broken!
I'd love to see more people creating slogans about the beauty to be found in our healing and in our scars (which are evidence of having healed) than slogans about finding beauty in the brokenness itself.
What hope and encouragement do you find in the metaphor of kintsugi?
If you'd like to receive more inspiration and encouragement for living your own kintsugi life, subscribe to get weekly notifications of new blog posts in your inbox.