Beauty In The Broken

Broken, I have felt broken.

Broken Clay is who I was. I am now a mosaic of beauty. God has made my brokenness beautiful. He continually places the pieces of my life into a beautiful picture. He is making art from my life. He is allowing this art that He is making to impact others. He is using the brokenness in my life to change people, to help others who are broken like I was to see what He can do. They can see within the picture of my life what glory God imparts to someone who is willing to allow Him to have the pieces of their lives, the good and the bad, to work with.

God has had a lot of brokenness to work with in me. My story shows the artistry of God. It proves that He is The Master of creativity and art. I see it so well within my life and maybe it strikes me so deeply because art is a language that I speak. I believe that God gave me that language first, that art is my first language. It is the one that I speak most clearly in the presence of God. God knows that I hear best when He shows me pictures of His love for me and His love for others. He knows that I hear the best when He sings over me words of encouragement, words of strength, words of redemption and grace. I feel His grace within the touch of His hands shaping this clay vessel. I feel in His hands the joy that He takes in His creation. I am stunned that this Almighty being, The Alpha and The Omega, he Beginning and The End, takes delight in me, a flawed and broken woman. I am overwhelmed by the careful care and concern that He has for me. I turned away from Him more than once in my life to follow my own pursuits, ones that I knew were wrong, and found that when I realized that those ways led to a dead and empty end, He was always there waiting for me. He followed me through hell and back. Yet He still pursued me, He still loved me no matter what. He could have just let me go, abandoned me, and He has every right to do that, but He is merciful. He knew that I would encounter emptiness without Him, that life without Him has no real color. God’s color is incredibly vibrant and alive. Every other color, everything in life without God also paints a picture and that picture and the colors within it are pale, dull and lifeless. Just a form of black and white, artificial color, artificial joy, artificial love.

I know a lot of people who would argue the statement above, but those people have not tasted and seen that God is GOOD. They think that they have felt true love, true joy and true color, but if all they have to compare those to are dull and lifeless, then I can see why. I used to live with color blinders on, and so I based my opinions on what I knew, what I saw. What I saw as beautiful and desirable then, I see as worthless, lifeless, and draining now. I used to think that partying with friends was fun, that drugs were exciting, that drinking just enhanced the fun, but now, I know the truth, it was just a way to disguise the truth. The truth that life lived apart from God is empty.

All addiction comes from trying to do life without God, trying to hide from God and from the pain experienced in the emptiness. Your soul desires God, you were made for the sole purpose of being in relationship with God. Your soul was made to be able to be filled up with the glory and love of God. Anything else that you try to stuff in there other than God creates a sickness, a desperation, a need that can never be quenched. And so you end up chasing emptiness. Life becomes dull and lifeless, eventually, this thing that we are chasing starts running our lives and it feels like an endless ache. The only cure is the filling of that hollow, always empty space called your soul with The One who created you, The Most Holy of Holies, The God of the heavenly armies. You were created by Him for Him. There are those who would argue that this belief that I have is a fairy tale. What you don’t understand is that I also at one time used to believe that too. I chased after all the emptiness of life too. I practiced new age religion, I denied the validity of a Supernatural God, I lived life for myself, trying desperately to fill my soul up with whatever I could find, and it all ended up to be emptiness, dull and lifeless. And if you are honest, you will admit that too. You know that there has to be more to life than to live it selfishly, always hungering for something more, never completely satisfied. Addiction feels that way. We  were meant to be addicted to God, that is the healthy way to live, but if He is not your addiction, if it is anything else, it will always feel empty, eventually it catches up with you. It will feel exciting to begin with, but it will never satisfy you completely and always. It doesn’t last, you will always seek out more, expect more, need more.

Addiction can also be in relationships with significant others in your life. If you have a marriage, or children or other family or friends in your life, they can’t meet all your needs, and people fail. We as human beings are not perfect, we never will be. We fail, we can not always meet someones expectations of us, and so we let them down, and they let us down as well. If we chase after love in another person, it will never fill us completely, in the beginning it will feel like it does, but we eventually discover that relationships aren’t always butterflies and sunshine. There are times of pain and hurt as well, even in the healthiest relationships. Anyone who tells you something different is not being completely honest. Relationships are messy. Love is messy.

Cam and I’s story is messy, it has incredible joy, and it also has incredible darkness. I am in love with a good man, one who loves me and tries to put me and our daughters before himself, he is not always successful, but he tries and that is a gift in itself. He is in love with a good woman, but I can not be everything to him either. I am a flawed woman, I do not always act or love perfectly, only God has the ability to live that way. Human nature is a broken thing. I love Cam in spite of his brokenness, God has given me the ability to do this, and God in His mercy has allowed Cam to do the same for me. I bring my own mess into our relationship. I am not and have not always been a good wife or a good mom, and my daughters have not always been good either. However even in spite of the mess, the relationships are worth it. I am grateful for each one of my family members. We do not always see eye to eye, but our hearts are connected by the bond of love.

My church is going through a series called “The Art of Relationships”. This series speaks to my soul in ways that only God knows how to speak to me. It speaks of creativity as a good thing, as a hard thing. They are speaking about some of the proverbs of the Bible. Proverbs was written by King Solomon, know as the wisest king of the Bible. Every week they interview an artist in the church, highlighting a theme in their life, I was chosen for one of the videos (wow, I was honored! Only because of God was this possible for many reasons) The topic of study for that week was loyalty. Loyalty in relationships. My story focused on the loyalty that I chose in spite of the pain I was feeling. I was betrayed in the most important relationship in my life after my relationship with God. I spoke about a hard place that our marriage went through, and God’s grace within that pain.

Hopefully this link works to the video that they filmed.

Addiction comes in many forms, in this case it was in the form of pornography. It is a cheating in the mind and heart. It is an addiction to the fantasy life. It is a destroyer of intimacy within a real relationship. Fantasy love always feels better than reality. Reality is messy and painful at times, a fantasy life feels good all the time, because if it doesn’t you can just change the story or “change the channel”. You escape reality. Addiction is always about covering up or hiding from what is really going on. For me overeating is my addiction. Often I choose to eat, not because I am hungry, but because I am hurt, and I need comfort, or I am bored, and for some reason I think that eating chips or chocolate will satisfy that pain or boredom (I am shaking my head as I write this). I know this will never satisfy, but I try anyway. Going to anything else but God for those things end up empty, you will need more, because it is only God who can fill up that emptiness, who can comfort, who can heal.

Luckily within our story God had already helped me see His opinion of me, He had already given me the name Beautiful, and so I knew that Cam wasn’t trustworthy in that regard. His addiction destroyed any thought that I had that I was beautiful in his eyes. I knew that I could never measure up to the images that he looked at, the images that he sought out. Only listening to God’s opinion of me healed the pain that Cam’s addiction caused me.

Only God could give me the strength to pursue a relationship with Cam, God’s opinion mattered not Cam’s. Cam never said that I wasn’t beautiful, but his actions said that to me. I now know that it is not about the look of the beautiful woman, but about the intimacy, the always being wanted, the fantasy. God gave me the ability to see Cam within his addiction. God showed me that he was stuck. God showed me through a picture He painted of a stuck hurting little boy. This is what I saw instead of someone choosing to go to the images just because of his own selfishness. I saw it as a kind of prison, more like a tar pit that he couldn’t get out of. It was hurting him, slowly suffocating out his joy, his reality, his life. He felt like he had to go into his fantasy life to escape his reality. It was robbing us of Cam, our family suffered because of his addiction, and yet God gave me the strength to get into the mess of Cam’s addiction with him, God used me to help Him rescue Cam. I didn’t ignore what was going on, I was a bulldog and would confront him, even though I was worried that he would not see me as enough or worth it. God said I was worth it, and so I chose to believe God and not myself, not the world’s opinion. Because of this I continued to live in a messy relationship and not give up. I chose to be loyal in spite of his choice to not be loyal to me in his mind or in his heart. I persevered and because of God and His ability to lend me His strength, I was able to walk with Cam through the mess of addiction.

Cam has been free of the strong bonds of a pornography addiction for more than 10 years now. Cam knows that like any addiction, it would not be hard to fall into it again, but He relies on God to give him the strength to continue to resist the pull. Cam has learned that the only addiction that is good, is the addiction to God’s love and grace. He has tasted God’s love and grace and knows true forgiveness and chooses to daily renew that bond with God. So my job in this part of our relationship is to encourage, to remind Cam of God’s love, to create a stumbling block in the face of his addiction, to point him to God when he is struggling with the temptation, but I count it a joy that we are past the desperate addiction.

God has been good to us. Of course there are many other areas that we are still working on, but I don’t think that work within relationships ever ends, it just gets better as you work and persevere through the mess. We were made for relationships, first, and most importantly with God, and then with those God has placed you beside in this life. When we get that order right, it is easier to persevere through the good and the bad of life. A life lived with God is a much more beautiful and colorful life. I would have it no other way. I have experienced life without God and with God, and there is no comparison now that I look back. Life without God is empty selfishness, trying to get all you can out of that life. Life with God is living within incredible rainbow love, trying to love others like God does. Not for yourself, but because of the love of God. God fills up the empty space and we overflow love, we can’t contain it all, we just can’t, that is where the joy is found. It is within that love where we can find our joy, even when life is hard. This is where we find the beauty in the broken. Brokenness bound back together with the love of God is like gold holding together pieces of shattered clay. It is the mundane held together by light. This is where the glory is found, where God’s light shines through. This is real beauty. I praise God that He has chosen to make me beautiful and call me by that name! God chooses to carefully put my pieces together and make me even more beautiful because of His love. I have discover the beauty in my brokenness, and discovered the love of the incredible love of The Master Artist, The Creator of all we see and don’t see, and I am incredibly grateful that He sses me as worthy of His love. I am worthy only because He chooses to make me worthy. He wants to give that gift to anyone who wants it, to any who chose to follow Him and those who offer Him their brokenness to work with. He chooses to paint with your life, with your broken pieces. It is Good, for He is GOOD. You can trust Him in a world of untrustworthy people, He is the ONLY ONE who you can trust completely. Try it offer yourself to your Maker, you won’t regret it. I only regret the wasted years that I followed my own paths. However then I couldn’t see all the redemption that I have received because of the life I lived. God would not be able to use me like He can now. I have been in a lot of darkness, a lot of empty, hard places, and so I can empathize with those who still live there. I can reach out to those who are still stuck and that is because of where I was broken. God’s light can shine into those places because of those broken pieces. His light is the gold that holds my pieces together. Yay God!! His glory, shining, it is incredible, so colorful and dazzling bright. I am blessed because of it, and within it.

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Kintsugi – Mended

Kintsugi (or kintsukuroi) is a Japanese method for repairing broken ceramics with a special lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The philosophy behind the technique is to recognize the history of the object and to visibly incorporate the repair into the new piece instead of disguising it. The process usually results in something more beautiful than the original.kintsugi-4

Romans 8:29-30 (MSG) 29-30 God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity he restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in him. After God made that decision of what his children should be like, he followed it up by calling people by name. After he called them by name, he set them on a solid basis with himself. And then, after getting them established, he stayed with them to the end, gloriously completing what he had begun.

God also makes what we think is broken or a mistake, beautiful. He takes what is broken in us, what we see as mistakes, as shameful, and as ugly, and gives it beauty and purpose. When we allow Him to mend it, to work His miracles and to use it, He uses it for showing off His glory. There are many things which I thought were ugly mars in my life, that made me feel broken and worthless. Most of my life I couldn’t see past the damage, and love myself in spite of it. I couldn’t see that I was lovable or worth loving. God, though, saw me and chose to love me, He thought I was lovable, He took all that I gave Him, every broken piece of me of my life and turned it all around, 180 degrees, and made those the things, ways that He could use to reach those who would have been hard to reach had I not had that brokenness. People open up a whole lot more when they find someone who gets it, gets them. People feel safe when opening up with someone who understands and so God reaches into them through our brokenness. God is amazing! He is a Kintsugi artist, working with real human brokenness. He repairs using His own glory, His light, His power. We shine because of it if we accept it.

We are mended as we let go and let God. Anger and bitterness at life and those circumstances or people, that hurt us, broke us, gave us pain becomes ugly and raw if left in need of repair. If we try to repair the damage on our own, it will emphasize the ugliness. The Kintsugi process was created because normally when someone tried to repair a precious piece of pottery it would always look worse, it was no longer precious, and often was discarded. Someone at sometime, saw the object they were repairing as valuable, worth saving and because of that wanted to enhance the beauty of the original unbroken piece. The gold in the cracks enhances the pottery. God’s power and glory shining through our cracks does the same thing to a greater level. He  enhances our beauty with His “gold”. When we crack through the stress of life or someone’s carelessness, count it as gold, learn to go to God with your pain quickly. Don’t allow yourself to stew in anger or bitterness, because then all you are is broken pieces. A mess scattered all over the floor.

When we are broken and scattered we leave shards all over the place that hurt others. Our tongues or words, our actions or our in actions, cause pain to others if we are not careful and done in anger or bitterness. They cause distance between us and others, they cause protective barriers to go up. There is never the freedom to be ourselves when someone is broken and like a thousand shards of glass, when they leave, ignore it or try to fix themselves. To fix yourself causes more damage to be done. You cannot do it on your own. I tried and I failed. My life is better because I gave up trying to fix it myself, and gave it all to God. When I let go of my pain, God set right out to mend me, mend my soul. I don’t know why II waited so long, but I am grateful that He saw that I was worth fixing. 🙂

Be careful of the broken places in your life, be careful to pick them all up and give them to God. Don’t throw them out, give them to The One who will put them back together, The One who will add His beauty to the broken pieces, The One who will shine His glory through you. We become Kintsugi as we allow God to pieces us back together. We become beautiful, and our brokenness becomes a beautiful story of God’s greatness.

 

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  “Mended”  by Matthew West                                                                                                              When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home

How many times can one heart break?
It was never supposed to be this way
Look in the mirror, but you find someone you never thought you’d be

Oh, but I can still recognize
The one I love in your tear stained eyes
I know you might not see him now, so lift your eyes to me

(chorus) When you see broken beyond repair
I see healing beyond belief
When you see too far gone
I see one step away from home                                                                                                                     When you see nothing but damaged goods
I see something good in the making
I’m not finished yet
When you see wounded, I see mended

You see your worst mistake
But I see the price I paid
And there’s nothing you could ever do, to lose what grace has won

So hold on, it’s not the end
No, this is where love’s work begins
I’m making all things new
And I will make a miracle of you

I see my child, my beloved
The new creation you’re becoming
You see the scars from when you fell
But I see the stories they will tell

You see worthless, I see priceless
You see pain, but I see a purpose
You see unworthy, undeserving
But I see you through eyes of mercy