May 24, 2020

Golden Scars by Valerie Ronald

The centuries-old Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with gold is a perfect visual of creating beauty from brokenness. Kintsugi, meaning “golden joinery”, rather than rejoining ceramic pieces with camouflaged adhesive, uses a tree sap lacquer dusted with powdered gold. The conspicuous cracks become beautiful golden seams, emphasizing the breaks instead of disguising them. The Kintsugi method often makes the piece more exquisite and valuable than before it was broken.

I have no doubt that the gold dust of God’s love and mercy has mended my brokenness in beautiful ways, creating a vessel “as it seemed good to the potter to make.” If it weren’t for being shattered, I could not experience the deep healing and redemption only my Savior can offer. Not only does He heal but He does so in such a way that the mended broken places are made stronger and more useful. These golden cracks inspire much of my writing as I seek to use what God has taught me, to speak healing into the cracked lives of others.

A large part of my past life was spent doing damage control for myself and my children as we suffered at the hands of a sociopath. Clinging to my faith in God was the only way I could glimpse some semblance of hope, even while we were repeatedly manipulated, emotionally bullied and lied to by a man with no conscience. When I go back and read my journals from that time, I see a heart cracked and bleeding on the page, trying to process how to survive, calling out to God with the psalmist, “How long, Lord? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Ps. 13:1-2 NIV)

Amid the rampant breakage, I found writing gave me some solace and clarity. Reaching out to God, searching for help in His Word and writing my thoughts down, helped me pick up and carry the broken pieces, even if only for that day. I carried the pieces to Jesus, who saw intrinsic value in a pile of broken clay. He saved those pieces, and with care and love eventually recycled them into a useful vessel traced with scars of gold.

All this is to cast a light of discovery on my writing process. I am not a scheduled, planned-out, organized writer, although I do make writing a priority as it is essential to my well being. I am rather an organic writer because my craft has the characteristics of an organism, developing in the manner of a living plant or animal. The Holy Spirit is the gardener of new ideas, sought for in prayer. He never fails to plant a seed and illumine it in the creative part of my brain so I won’t miss it. Sometimes germination is slow, requiring time and nurture. This is where most of my work is done, in the “cracks” of my mind, emotions, and spirit. I may appear to be dormant but the organic process is working beneath a quiet surface. When the fruit is finally ripe, I sit down at my computer to flesh it out in words, mindful of the Spirit of God standing at my shoulder, guiding each stroke of the keys.

Pottery does not break in a clean pattern. The shattered pieces are irregular in size and shape, yet when they are mended they make a cohesive whole, a singular vessel. So it is when we break, because what causes the break is a blend of afflictions unique to each of us. When God works His “golden joinery” to put us back together, He already has in mind the way He will use us to bring glory to Himself. He knows my “off-the-grid” way of thinking and creating, and gives me freedom to write accordingly. If I were to be a more regimented writer I doubt my creativity would flow as freely or be as useful in coming alongside other broken pots to offer them encouragement and hope. The restoration of God in a broken life does not attempt to disguise the damage. His point is to render the fault-lines beautiful and strong, creating maps of gold for others to find their way. 

Valerie Ronald lives in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba. She is a graduate of Vancouver's Langara College journalism program, and has worked as a newspaper reporter, freelance writer, public speaker and bookstore employee. Valerie finds being a member of the Manitoba Christian Writers Association has honed her writing skill and confidence. She writes devotionals for her home church bulletins and her online blog. Her current book project chronicles how God's faithfulness saw her through the dark valleys of divorce and cancer. Along with her husband, Valerie enjoys spending time with their blended family and six grandchildren. She is a nature photographer, water colorist, cat lover and Scrabble addict.

More of her devotionals can be read on her blog


  1. This is such a beautiful example of God's grace and love, Valerie. First of all, the pottery examples themselves are stunning! Second, you have been gifted with such a lovely, descriptive, and profound way of arranging words. Continue to use this gift! I am glad He has honed your writing talent to such a fine degree.

  2. What a fascinating post! Thanks for telling us how the Japanese add value to a broken bowl or pot.

    It reminds me of what my mom told me about malformed noses. She broke hers when she was driving the hay wagon and it hit a bump, smashing her nose on the crossbar. She said that doctors first pulverize the bone and then reshape it to make it look as it should. Our Father is doing that to us. He has to break us to make us.

  3. Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

  4. Thanks for such a beautiful post, Valerie! I was going to use the image of kintsugi for my June blog, but after reading your writing, I reverted back to an image of mosaics that I often use to share how God takes the pieces of our lives and refashions them into something beautiful.

    God also works in our dormant times. Your words gave me lots to ponder: "I may appear to be dormant but the organic process is working beneath a quiet surface." And that too is where God is at work!


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