Kintsugi is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold. As a Philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object rather than something to disguise. We have to understand that no one or no situation is ever truly broken beyond repair. When we give our brokenness to God, He can repair us and fill our brokenness with light, hope, faith and love. God has the ability to take broken people and broken situations and make them more beautiful.
I must tell you this before I share my story. I have been broken—my family has been broken.
It was the summer of 2011. This life experience is one that is hard to share, but if it helps a single person know and understand why they need Jesus Christ in their life, then it was worth sharing. My life has never gone as planned. I married at the age of 19 to my first love. Soon into the marriage, I realized that my “Prince Charming” was not who I thought he was. I lived in this marriage for three years hoping he would change. It got to the point where mental and physical abuse became a part of his daily routine. The horrible thing about mental abuse is that the words never go away. You begin to believe everything they say. I knew I had to get out of this situation but it’s always more complicated than just leaving.
God must have known I needed a way out. My husband got stationed in Japan for a year. My three-month-old son and I were not allowed to go with him. My son and I moved back home and we lived with my parents. I am a very independent person and this is not where I had pictured my life to be at this point. However, my son and I were in a positive and safe environment surrounded by those who loved us. Life is never perfect, but if you pay close attention, you find that there are perfect moments within the chaos. I believe that is God’s way of letting us know everything is going to be okay.
I did end up getting a divorce. Even though the marriage was horrible, I still felt like a failure—and I’m not sure why. I did get the best thing out of that marriage—my first son. Time passed and I was able to get back on my feet, buy a home, be independent and eventually meet a wonderful man who is now my husband.
Years later, my ex-husband moved back home. I was forced by the court to let him have visitation rights. This was one of the hardest things I ever had to. My son had no idea who he was. I knew what my ex-husband was like behind closed doors. I just hoped maybe deep down he had somehow changed. For one year he was in my son’s life—just enough time to form a relationship with him.
This brings me to the summer of 2011.
It was early morning and I woke up to the sound of my stepdad pounding on my front door. Still half asleep, I answered the door and he told me the news. My ex-husband had murdered two people and attempted to murder a third person. She was still alive and in the hospital hanging on for dear life. My stepdad came by not only to share this new but he also was making sure that we were STILL ALIVE!
I was so shocked and overwhelmed with emotions. The first thing I thought to do was pray for the victims. I can’t imagine the hell they went through. I still pray for this family daily. To be honest, I could not even process the information and I knew that at some point I would have to tell my son. How do you tell your child something like this? He had grown to love his dad. He was just getting ready to go into the first grade. If I could not process this, how could he?
After praying about it and talking to professionals about how I should tell my son, they encouraged me to just tell him the truth. It was only by the strength that God gave me I was able to do so. It is times like this you have to find God’s strength deep within you. It’s in all of us! We just have to ask and believe it.
Over the previous year, my son had formed a relationship with his father and he loved his father. My son had a very hard time dealing with this news. He could not separate the truth from what he would make up in his mind. I mean how can a first grader possible comprehend this news? To the world, his dad was a murder, but to my son, that was just his dad whom he loved. My son would ask me questions: “Do they feed people in prison?” “Maybe my dad thought he was playing a video game.” I watched my son suffer on a daily basis. His little mind was always going. My son would break down and just cry, throw fits and have outbursts of anger. How could a first grader deal with this tragedy?
This is when hate and bitterness set in for me. I was so angry at God and my ex-husband. How could he do such a horrible thing? How could God even allow it? I spent some time being mad at God and hating my ex-husband. As much as it’s not fair, bad things happen to good people. It rains on the just and the unjust. “We can’t change the cards we are dealt, we only have control over how we play the hand.” I was not playing the cards I was dealt very well. My anger and bitterness were dragging me down into a deep dark hole. I had finally had enough! After a really rough day of watching my son suffer I cried out to God, “My son is suffering! Why did you allow this to happen”? I felt so helpless. As a mother, all I wanted to do was make my son stop hurting—but I couldn’t. Everything was out of my control.
At that exact moment, I cried out to God and He spoke to me. He said, “I watched my son suffer too. I know how you are feeling.” This was a reality check for me. God understood exactly what I was going through. He watched his son suffer on the cross. Jesus took the sin of the world upon Himself and died for us all. I knew I had to stop living in this dark place I was in. I had to stop being angry at God. He did not want any of that to happen to us. He loves us more than we love our own children. He loves my son more than I do—that has to be a lot—because I love that boy so very much.
The next step in this process was forgiveness. I needed to forgive myself. I kept thinking over and over again, “What if I had just reported the abuse when we were married, maybe this would not have happened?” What happened had nothing to do with me and there was nothing I could have done to prevent it. It was about a choice that my ex-husband made and unfortunately, it was not the right one. He hurt so many people that night because of his decisions. People experienced hell on earth because of him. I knew I had to forgive him and it was not going to be easy, but it was necessary for me to move on and set myself free. This was something I would not be able to do on my own.
Once again, I needed God’s strength and grace to help me be able to do this because I did not want to forgive him. I did forgive him, but this forgiveness is not a “one and done” deal. It’s a choice I have to make on a daily basis because that unforgiveness will sneak back in and start to drag me down. Forgiveness was not for him, it was for peace for me. I have learned not all prisons have bars. He was in prison and so was I. We can make our own prison of unforgiveness and keep ourselves locked out from what blessings God has in store for us.
Although this situation is not something that will ever go away, my son is doing much better. He still has questions and continues to process things with understanding the older he gets. We still have hard days but we have hope knowing that God understands how we feel and unconditionally loves us. Gob repaired us from this awful horrible situation that had left us broken. He filled our cracks with grace and love. We have peace knowing that our Heavenly Father will never disappoint us. God restored us. He restored my family. I now have a wonderful husband who adopted my son and together we now have three ADDITIONAL little boys. That’s right four boys, five if you count my husband! Life is crazy most days but I feel so blessed that God gave me the family I always wanted. My life has not been perfect by any means, but there have been perfect moments in the chaos and God was right there with me the entire time even when I was mad at Him.
This is my story. It is definitely not one which is easy to share. It is my hope that by sharing, I might be able to help someone dealing with hell on earth, a tragedy, watching your child suffer, mental, physical or sexual abuse, etc. Please know that whatever you are going through there is light at the end of the tunnel. I absolutely hate the saying “God will never put more on us than we can handle.” That is not true. We can’t handle life on our own. We need a relationship with Jesus Christ. We need God to get through. Even if you don’t think anyone here on earth understands what you are feeling God does and He hurts when you hurt. We are all his children. He is a good Father and will never disappoint you.
Back to Kintsugi—the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with gold. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object rather than something to disguise. Your history might have left you broken but you are not broken beyond repair. God is waiting to fill you with His grace, strength, and love.