“Until you are broken you don’t know what you’re made of.” ~Ziad K. Abdelnour
When faced with a box of chocolates, the only way to know what’s inside any given one is to break it open. Until it’s broken (usually by biting into it … yum!), I can only guess at what it’s made of.
Sometimes I’m delighted with what I find with that first bite. (Caramel! Jackpot!!) Other times, not so much. (Chocolate cream. Booorrriiing!)
I encounter something similar as I break stones for my kintsugi work. Sometimes what I find on the inside looks pretty much like the outside but with less polish. Other times I find unexpected challenges with jagged edges or tiny pieces that don’t seem to fit back together.
Still other times I discover unexpected beauty from the glimpse into the internal layers of the stone with their varying textures and colors highlighted even more in their broken, unpolished state.
I found this exact same thing to be true in my life during times when I’ve felt broken (and broken open) by life’s challenges.
Sometimes what I discover about myself in those times surprises me (in good ways) as I see myself displaying strengths and skills that I didn’t know I had in me.
For example, my inner strength and my courage shine during those times in ways they don’t get the chance to when all is going well. I may hope I have those characteristics, but they are only tested when I am faced with challenges.
Other times I’m less delighted by what I find as I find myself coming face-to-face with shadow sides, those parts of myself that I’d really rather not see or acknowledge. Sometimes these shadow sides are exposed as I discover that I had a role in creating whatever broken places I’m facing. More often, they are exposed in the ways I react to the brokenness.
When I’m in pain and stressed and backed against the wall, my less-desirable sides often show themselves in vivid color. I discover that I’m not really as kind or as generous or as patient as I like to think that I am.
I also discover the bedrock of values and beliefs that guide and shape me as everything else gets stripped away. Some of those values and beliefs are balms to the soul that reassure me that I have goodness in me.
Other times, beliefs are exposed that I recognize as unhelpful. (For example, beliefs of my unworthiness.) While they may be powerfully directing my behavior and choices all the time, life’s broken places have a tendency to show those beliefs in high relief so that I can see them more clearly.
Part of healing then becomes taking an honest assessment of what I discover about myself in times like this, choosing which characteristics to treasure and nurture, and which ones to work on re-shaping into healthier things.
If I don’t take the time and effort to truly see what’s within me and deal honestly and courageously with what I discover during times of brokenness, I miss opportunities to grow and become all of who I’m capable of becoming.
When you think of the last time you felt broken open by life, what did you discover about yourself and what you’re made of?
How are you nurturing the treasures you found within?
What are you doing to polish and re-shape the more jagged edges you discovered of your shadow side?
This opportunity to discover what we’re made of and to use it to become an even better version of ourselves is part of the gold of kintsugi living when we take the time to make it part of our healing.
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