I’ve spent a lot of my life dealing with brokenness.
I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone, so when I lost four classmates to car accidents in one year during my junior year of high school, the community as a whole felt this loss—and was broken.
I attended a small private college where a racist hate crime put our campus in turmoil my freshman year—and we felt broken.
I struggled through my sophomore year, trying to balance my own self-care and caring for my roommate who was battling depression and self-injury. When she attempted suicide halfway through that year, she was broken, and my friends and I were broken with her.
My junior year of college was marked by two sexual assaults in one weekend on our campus—one was my own, and one was of a young woman with whom I’ve never been able to reconnect with after our meeting at the police department. Both she and I were broken, and our community rallied around us in a “Take Back the Night” event, their hearts breaking with ours.
I now work for two churches, and when I’m not working, I am involved in a number of different activities and organizations seeking justice. I continue to see brokenness every day.
I am well acquainted with the theology that tells me that both I and this world are broken, and when I see it so clearly in and around my own life, it’s so easy to get bogged down in it. In those moments when the pieces seem most broken, I remind myself of a quote I once read spray-painted on a building in Los Angeles: “Mosaics are made up of broken pieces, but they’re still works of art, and so are you.”
How often do I—do we—forget this? We see mosaics and see beauty, but often forget the brokenness they came from. We see our own brokenness and forget the beauty that could be born from it. How many times have I, in my moments of brokenness, looked at my life and seen diminished worth and value? That’s a rhetorical question, but I will let you in on a secret: I fall into this trap of thinking that ALL THE TIME.
I’ve both vocalized and internalized a belief that I am a lesser person because of the ways that I’ve struggled with depression. I’ve both vocalized and internalized a belief that I am less deserving of love because of my assault. I’ve both vocalized and internalized an idea that everyone else has their lives more together than I do. And none of this is true.
We think of ourselves the way we see objects on the “as-is” shelf in stores, broken and being sold for a lesser value. But, my friends, you are SO MUCH MORE than an object discarded on a shelf. You are a beautiful creation, worthy and deserving of love and care and hope.
The Japanese culture has a type of pottery called Kintsugi, which takes cracked pottery and fills it in with gold. These pieces end up being worth more than the original, unblemished pieces. The original unbroken vases and pots look alike and evoke little response, but the Kintsugi embody beauty with their uniqueness. They are no longer objects but rather stories—stories that want to be told, stories that need to be heard.
Your “brokenness” does not diminish your value. It makes you human and makes you beautiful. This world is one giant mosaic, and it is a better and more beautiful place with you in it.