The other day, a picture popped up in my TimeHop that really took me back in time. It was a picture from my intenSati leader training five years ago.
The picture of me standing in Ready pose with my eyes closed, took me back not so much because of what I accomplished that weekend, but because of what I struggled with. I saw a girl who was so afraid of who she was because she was so caught up in who she wasn’t. I saw a girl who was getting certified as an intenSati leader, but who wasn’t a leader of her own life yet. I saw a girl who was so consumed by perfection that she couldn’t appreciate the progress she had already made – just a year prior she had found this practice and it was a practice that helped pull her out of a long battle with an eating disorder.
More than anything, this picture took me back because it reminded me of all my broken places from breaking the C2 vertebrae of my neck during my sophomore year of college, to losing a brother and a sister when I was young, to growing up with an alcoholic father, to getting a divorce and coming out, to having my heart broken and my spirit crushed – and how all those broken places made me stronger.
We all have broken places.
Our bodies break. Even in the absence of breaking something as dramatic as a bone, we all carry some form of brokenness be it stretch marks, cellulite, fatigue or illness.
Our hearts break. We experience seasons of loneliness or invisibility, lost or unrequited love, as well as the personal griefs we’ve come to carry.
Our minds break. Overtime the more we buy into false identities of who we think we are – the more we believe we aren’t good enough, thin enough, whatever enough – the more we severe the power of our mind and what we’re truly capable of.
And our spirits break. One look at the world around us is enough some days to crush our spirits; sometimes the world can appear to be unkind, relentless and scary.
We are all a little broken sometimes.
And it can be tempting to hide that brokenness, to put the proverbial band-aid on it with a smile or an “I’m fine” . It can be tempting to think we can simply spiritually bypass our pain by lacquering gratitude over it, celebrating our challenges without ever actually feeling the challenges themselves.
An authentic life demands something different, something I just started to learn five years ago when that picture was taken – and something I am still learning every day of my life now.
An authentic life demands that we feel broken (sometimes we are broken). It requires us to feel what we feel. And to know that that’s OK. No, it doesn’t feel “good” to not feel good or to be broken or to sit with our pain. No one wants to be broken. But we all are. We all have a history. We all have scars. We all have things we wish we didn’t have to experience or go through. But, it’s those very moments where we’re broken open that allow us to become stronger versions of our self.
The Japanese refer to this art as Kintsugi. Kintsugi is the art of taking a broken piece of pottery and repairing it with a lacquer dusted or mixed with gold, something that makes the item stronger at its broken places. Rather than throwing out the item or hiding its cracks, the Japanese use the gold to illuminate and highlight the brokenness. They see the breakage as part of the item’s history and believe that it’s the unique history of that object that makes it more beautiful.
Kintsugi is the reminder for us that our broken places can paradoxically be a source of wholeness. It’s the reminder that the more we’ve actually lived our life, the more cracks we’re likely to have accumulated.
We all have broken places and visible or invisible, our brokenness is what makes us human and more beautiful. When we allow the light to touch our dark places, when we allow ourselves to feel our way through the brokenness, only then will the new growth, new learning and greater levels of love sneak in.
No matter where you are this week, no matter what you are going through, let what you’ve survived remind you that you have the strength to keep going.