One of the dangers of using kintsugi as a metaphor in my work is that it can be easily misunderstood as a way of saying that we are all broken people, and I don't believe that is true.
I was reminded of this danger recently when someone found my website by searching on my name and the phrase "everyone is broken." I haven't been as clear as I want to be, if people are hearing that as my message.
So let me clearly state: We are not all broken. In fact, none of us is broken. We are all inherently whole and are all inherently enough. Always.
I do think, however, that this world is a hard place to live. We all get bruised, banged up, wounded, and heartbroken more than once in our lives. I don't know anyone who even made it all the way to adulthood without getting their heart broken at least once!
In that sense, we do all get parts of ourselves broken along the way, but that doesn't make us inherently broken. Even when my heart gets broken, I am still whole. I am not broken—just my heart is.
Brokenness is something that happens to us; it is not who we are. It does not define us.
What we often forget is that even as there are parts of us getting broken along the way, we are also continually healing all along our journey. The broken parts do not stay broken. We are constantly moving back toward healing and health because we are still inherently whole as people.
What kintsugi does so well, in my opinion, is draw our attention away from the damage that was done to us (whether it was intentional or not) and point us toward the beauty of the healing that has happened—a beauty that we all too often overlook.
We often have little control over the things that happen to us in our lives, especially those losses, abuses, and disappointments that lead to broken hearts. What we do have control over is the way we choose to handle those moments and what we choose to focus on.
We can spend our time and attention focusing on the bad things that happened (and thereby slowing down our healing processes by keeping us stuck), or we can focus on the healing that is taking place and the ways we have grown and developed as part of that process. This latter approach can not only speed up the healing process, it can also make the journey lighter and more meaningful.
When we value the gold that is the healing that has taken place in our lives, we avoid the trap of bitterness or despair—not because we excuse the evil that may have been done to us, but because we choose to celebrate our resiliency and the gifts that the healing process brought with it.
The broken parts of us are always just a small part of who we are (even when the pain feels all-encompassing), and the broken places are always temporary as we are continually moving back toward healing. But even in the hardest of times, you are not broken.
Even when your heart feels shattered and your dreams seem to be lying in pieces at your feet, you are not broken.
None of us is broken. We are all just in the process of transforming our wounded places to the gold of healing.
That focus on the beauty in the healing is what draws me to kintsugi. It's never about brokenness for me; it's always about the healing.
Do you see yourself as broken? Why or why not? What value does the metaphor of kintsugi have for you?