Today and tomorrow, I am going to share two of my own Kintsugi stories. Tomorrow’s story is recent and still on-going; today’s is from several years ago.
As I looked at the notice board I felt my dream shatter before me. For months I had been desperately trying to hold it together, but now all that remained was a heap of broken pieces.
I thought back to the day, nine months earlier, when I had entered music college for the first time, and I remembered my hope and optimism. I had worked so hard to get there, and I had been overjoyed that my dream was coming true.
What had gone so badly wrong?
From the start it had been difficult. A family bereavement during the second week had thrown me off course, and from the very beginning there had been the constant feeling that I was different from everybody else- that I didn’t quite fit in and that, whatever I did, I was never going to be good enough.
As the year went on the atmosphere, which was competitive to the point of hostility, had started to get to me. It was dog-eat-dog, every man for himself, and I cannot thrive in that kind of atmosphere.
I poured in everything I had and found that it was never enough. I would go home every day, physically aching all over from the stress of it all.
All year I had persevered. I had worked hard, trying to hold it all together, and continued striving to pursue my dream, but as I looked at the notice board and saw the grade for my performance exam, I knew it was over.
It felt like complete brokenness.
To my surprise though, the next thought that came to mind was a Bible verse I had learned as a child: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NIV)
It was such a bizarre thought to have at that moment that I knew it must have been from God and, over the next few months, it became something to cling to. I couldn’t see how God could work this situation for good, but I had to trust that somehow he would.
It took a while to recognise but, looking back, I can see how God worked amazing beauty from that situation. Kintsugi is not a quick process, and the work of art he was creating took shape very gradually but, around five years after that moment of brokenness, I was at last able to look back and thank God, believing that the brokenness had been worth it for the beauty, realising that it was a beauty that would probably not have existed without the brokenness.
I learned how to pick myself up and try again, and over the next few years I completed a degree in music elsewhere, in a much friendlier and less pressurised environment where I made good friends and did well.
The real beauty, though, was found in my relationship with God. I hadn’t realised how much I had come to depend on music for my feeling of worth or my sense of purpose. Music had given me confidence, and my sense of hope depended on succeeding, so it had become the focus of my life.
It was only when that was stripped away that I realised that what I really needed was God- that he was where I needed to find my worth and my identity, that he provided a secure place where I could put my hope, whatever the circumstances of life.
In many ways it was a turning point. While I completed my music degree, and I continue to love music, it was no longer the most important thing, and I decided to follow a different line of work- one where I could give people the hope they really needed and tell them about Jesus.
Every summer for the last seven years, it has been a joy and a privilege to be involved in leadership of a music camp for teenagers, which includes music rehearsals as they work towards a concert at the end of the week, but also Bible teaching keeping them grounded in the truth, and in what really matters.
I praise God that he has made me “strong at the broken places” and enabled me to use my experience to help others.
Painful as they were at the time, as I look back I have nothing but gratitude for the circumstances that stripped away my dependence on self and drew me close to the God we can truly depend on, who can make something beautiful out of our brokenness.