There is a small angel statue in one of my front garden beds. One of the top of her wings has broken off. I was commenting to a friend that I needed to throw the statue away because it was broken. She said, “I think you should keep it. Aren’t all of us a little broken?” So, every time I see that statue outside my house, I think about what my friend said. Yes, it seems to me each of us is a little broken.
In my faith tradition, sometimes we speak about brokenness as sin. Often, we look at sin as doing something wrong. I think there is more to it than “not being good.” Have you ever thought of it as missing the mark, like an archer shooting an arrow and missing the target, or as a breakdown in a relationship? In all these ways, we can find ourselves in a place of brokenness. Each of us does things we shouldn’t do. Each of us has flaws or can find ourselves not living up to our full potential. Each of us can find our relationships strained or even severed with our family, friends, and God at times.
Our brokenness isn’t the whole story, just like the statue of the angel. Her wing might be broken, but it is still clear that she is an angel. The last time I wrote this column, I spoke about how none of us is perfect. In a similar way, I affirm that each of us is broken, but our brokenness can be our greatest strength. Even in our brokenness, we still have a mission. Maybe even because of our brokenness, we have a unique perspective of how we might be of service to our neighbors. Maybe because of our brokenness, we have more empathy for others and we show more kindness to our neighbors.
There is a Japanese way of fixing broken pottery called Kintsugi. The broken pieces are put back together with gold so you can see where the cracks are but they are filled with something valuable, something beautiful. This type of repair is built on the idea that in embracing flaws and imperfections, you can create an even stronger, more beautiful piece of art.
Maybe we can think of our brokenness, the flaws and the imperfections, the ways we miss the mark, as helping us to be stronger and more beautiful. If we can look at ourselves that way, we can look at others that way too.