How To Mend What’s Broken When You Don’t Have All The Pieces

Back in the ‘olden days’ when Steve and I got married, it was traditional for brides to choose a fine china pattern. This china was used for special occasions and stored carefully in a cabinet – safe behind closed doors.

Everyday dishes were second hand or a cheap set of stoneware purchased at the local Sears. Like a dutiful young bride, I chose a beautiful Minton pattern. My aunts bought me a handful of place settings and I promptly stacked them in my china cabinet where they languished unused for years.

About a year ago I realized the china was just taking up space. I decided to ‘use it or lose it’. We took out the pretty Minton wedding china and a few antique pieces of Limoges, stacked them together on the kitchen shelf willy-nilly and started using them.

At first, family and friends objected and asked if I had ‘regular’ plates they could use instead. I reassured them that that these were my regular plates and it was okay if a piece broke. Before long, one of the beautiful pieces of wedding china fell to the ground and shattered into pieces. It was beyond mending.

When something breaks, it is forever altered.

When a leg is broken, it may mend and become even stronger than before but it’s never the same. Five, fifteen or even fifty years later, an x-ray will show evidence of the break. That bone is permanently marked.

When a heart is broken, it may mend and become even stronger than before but it’s never the same. It is forever altered, leaving a scar, a memory, a mark.

But what if your heart is so deeply broken that you fear some of the pieces are lost? What if you struggle to rebuild a marriage, like we did, searching for ways to fill the gaps but you come up empty-handed? 

Maybe we aren’t meant to have all the pieces. Perhaps there’s a way to fill those gaps and not only make our hearts whole again, but make them more beautiful than before.


mended kintusugi bowl


This is a piece of kintsugi. It is created through the Japanese art of repairing ceramics with precious metals, demonstrating that broken things can be made whole. This process of piecing something back together makes an object more beautiful than it was to begin with.

This week, Steve and I celebrate 35 years of marriage. It is miraculous that we’ve made it this far – that we’ve beaten the odds and are still together. It’s miraculous because we are broken people. We inflicted damage, to each other and to our marriage. Through our selfishness and sin, we were broken and left without the pieces needed for repair.

But something beautiful happened. We gathered up those broken pieces, surrendered them to the Artist and in the care of His hands, gaps were filled and brokenness was mended.


mended broken bowl with kintusugi

When the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something’s suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful.” – Barbara Bloom

When God mends broken people, he fills the ugly gaps with his grace, demonstrating that through the suffering and the brokenness, we become more beautiful.

What if, instead of hiding our scars, we celebrate them? We can show the handiwork of God in our lives, the places where he has filled in the gaps, replaced the broken pieces and turned our scars into precious gold. If we dare to risk revealing our scars, maybe we can bring hope to others who are broken.

Because, He makes beautiful things out of dust…out of us.


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  1. Beautifully written… Over the years I heard snippets of what you and Teve were going through. My heart went out to you during those years! I am so glad you are still together. You give hope to others!

  2. I love the visual of God filling the cracks with His grace. Thank you Karen. This is just beautiful because it is true.

  3. Oh Karen. I loved it from the minutes I started reading. My husband and I celebrated 21 years last month, and we have been broken and put back together as well. I fully believe that our marriage is more beautiful now than it has ever been.

  4. Excellent Karen! I’ve used that analogy myself. So great what the creator can do. Only He can make things more beautiful out of brokenness. Happy Anniversary!!

  5. Karen, Keith and I can also attest to God’s grace in our marriage. We were very broken, both individually and as a couple. This month we will celebrate 30 years of marriage. Miracles still happen.

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