“Once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
(Margery Williams Bianco- The Velveteen Rabbit)
A third principle of Kintsugi is authenticity- the choice not to hide the brokenness but to display it.
Kintsugi is linked to the Japanese philosophy wabi sabi, which chooses to embrace the flawed or imperfect. Rather than seeing the object as spoiled by the brokenness, or attempting an invisible repair, Kintsugi acknowledges the brokenness as part of the object’s history.
I find this challenging. In Western culture, and often in Christian culture, brokenness is considered something to hide. We cover our scars so no-one can see, we bury the pain within us for fear of what others will think, we talk only of problems we can relate in the past tense and pretend that our present life is perfect.
But what if, instead, we could be real about our struggles?
I remember, several years ago, going to visit a lady who had been a significant influence on me as a teenager. She had always been someone I looked up to. Faith seemed to shine out of her, and she had always been what I thought of as a “perfect Christian.”
But on this visit, when I was in my early 20s, it was clear that everything was not perfect. Her faith in God was still strong, but she was struggling to deal with a situation where she had been hurt and she was uncertain about the way ahead. For the first time I realised that she wasn’t a “perfect Christian,” that actually there’s no such thing, that she was just a human being like everyone else.
And in that moment, I thought more highly of her than ever.
I appreciated her honesty, that she had been willing to share her struggle so that I could pray for her. I admired her courage in opening up, and I felt privileged that she trusted me enough to be real, that she didn’t feel she had to hide behind a mask or pretend that everything in her life was perfect.
I thought of the times in the past when I had seen her show great faith, when she had stepped out boldly for God, and when she had loved radically. I realised she wasn’t super-human. She was just an ordinary person, filled with the Holy Spirit, and so rather than her example being out of reach to me, it suddenly became something I could aspire to. She ministered to me just as much in her brokenness as she had in her wholeness.
It is natural to worry about how others will respond if we reveal our brokenness, but the truth is we are all broken. We all carry scars and damage from past circumstances or relationships. We all have places where our wounds have healed, but they still ache from time to time.
Authenticity is a challenge, but without it we will always wonder, “What would they think if I told them?”
What if we could take the risk and find out the answer to that question? I’ve a feeling it might be better than we think!
“True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world. Our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.” (Brene Brown- Daring Greatly)