I was unloading the dishwasher the other week and being productive, grabbed two mugs at the same time instead of one. In my hurry, I inevitably dropped the heavier, black mug on floor and heard the clamor of ceramic and tile colliding. When I picked it up, it was in what seemed like a thousand little pieces. The one side of the mug was missing a very large piece so when I saw it, I sighed. I thought it would be an easy repair. One piece. However to my dismay, there were multitudes of small and fragile remnants spread all over the floor surrounded by potters dust and my heart immediately sank.

It was unrepairable.

It looked like all the other cheap ceramic mugs I’ve bought over the years. They all end up the same. Chipped, cracked and eventually discarded.

Except that this wasn’t just any mug. It was a mug we got from Paramount Pictures where our oldest daughter interned two summers ago. It was the mug we bought when we visited her in California. It often held my coffee and with it, my sentiments.

But sentiments aside, I cleaned up the pieces and salvaged what I could. I got out the super glue and started first with the biggest piece and thought I had a win, but the remnants were too small and not one seemed to fit just right and I started to get frustrated over a mug that would never be the same.

The trash can looked like my only option.

Days later, I’m driving to Baltimore with my husband. My mind flittered between songs and landscapes and my marriage was forefront. Here we were on another trip, in another year, logging another mile while stubbornly refusing to give up. My mind raced to lots of things, to people and with people…problems. I have friends who are encountering their own sort of hard, and as I sat in the passenger seat on my to our destination, I heard myself whisper, “Don’t discard the pieces.”

Perhaps I was whispering once more to myself.

Relationships are much like my mug. Over time and with use, little dings and chips create cracks if you hurry too fast and aren’t mindful of their care. Every now and then, trust gets broken and a large piece shatters on the floor of someone’s home and before you know it, your heart is broken into a thousand little pieces creating remnants that feel too small to pick up and piece back together.

But much like my mug, piece by piece, chunk by chunk, things CAN be put back together. It most likely will never look the same because cracks leave scars making things look raw and edgy and the healing comes through a process that is frustratingly ongoing and one day you wake up and realize how tired and worn you are from trying to piece it all back together yourself so you call a silent truce and eventually resolve to STOP fixing and mending alone because no one is fully ever broken…not even YOU and you embrace your cracks and your raw and rough edging. We ALL have our things and those things are better placed in the Fathers hands and when we give Him our broken pieces, He works tenderly and diligently…

Making broken things beautiful…

Most people would like the damage done to what is broken to be concealed and hidden by repair so that things could look like new, the way I want my favorite mug to look and my marriage to be, but that really isn’t reality.

That is actually a pretty weighty expectation and an unrealistic picture.

Someone shared years ago of how the Japanese art of Kintsugi follows a different philosophy in mending broken items. Rather than disguising the breakage, kintsugi restores the broken item incorporating the damage into the aesthetic of the restored item, making it part of the object’s history. Kintsugi uses lacquer resin mixed with powdered gold, silver, platinum, copper or bronze, resulting into something more beautiful than the original. The item becomes unique and set apart, for no two breaks are the same.

That visual has helped me more times than I can count when I have felt hopeless and broken and that the trash was my only viable option. When my dreams dissipate and my relationships verge potential ruin; in those moments when I feel small and in my ambiguity, helpless…I must choose to remember His goodness. He doesn’t create junk and if it is important to me, it is important to Him. THEY ARE. YOU ARE. I have a Father who doesn’t enjoying watching me feel out of sorts and out of luck. He is good and tender and piece by piece, partners with me to create a mosaic masterpiece.

But the first step in this creation is the resolve that what I hold in my hands has WORTH and VALUE. When I make the decision that yes, I am committed to working on it, I won’t easily discard it…even if the pieces are too small for my finger to pick them up.

Even if I don’t feel, even if I don’t see, even if I don’t hear…

Friends, I do not know how He does it, but I do know it is an exchange of sorts and I am part of the process. It would be easy to say I just put what is broken into the Father’s hands and He gets to work and I just wash my hands and walk away. That one day, He and I just meet up again over lunch when He is all finished mending and He hands me back a perfectly pieced masterpiece, but no.

It doesn’t work that way.

Each day I have the choice to wake up and make the commitment, ONCE MORE, to partner WITH HIM. He says, “OK, todays let’s look at THIS piece. What is this one about? Why is it special to you? How did it become misplaced and broken? What was your part?” and we go from there. Every piece is different and every conversation reveals both a truth and a lie; a lie that helped create the crack and a truth that helps restores the piece. If you do this enough days, trust can be rebuilt with the hope of restoration rather than having to trash what once you said had value and worth to you.

Whatever has fallen apart CAN be made whole, it just won’t always look like what you expected and don’t be suprised if YOU are the focus of the mending. You want the attention to detail to be elsewhere and on anyone else but you because you are not part of the problem nor did you cause the break, but I assure you…you have a part.

Be the place to start. 

The Father wants to give you His attention. Let it happen.