“The Beauty of Broken Things,” Ensign, August 2018
Here’s a simple truth: you will get hurt. Life will throw you for a loop and give you whiplash. It will cut you, bruise you, break you. That’s just how it is.
Here’s another truth: you will heal. Your cuts will close up. Your bruises will fade. Even your broken heart will mend. That’s just how it is. But you won’t be the same as you were before. You’ll be even better.
In a Mormon Messages video, Sister Reyna I. Aburto, Second Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency, described a German church that was destroyed in the bombing of Dresden during World War II.1 Years later, the church was rebuilt, using many of the original stones. The blackened bricks stand out in the otherwise pristine face of the church as a constant reminder of tragedy and, at the same time, a steadfast symbol of hope.
“I realized that my life is like that church,” said Sister Aburto. “I have gone through very hard times. The scars are still there. The pain is still there. But the Lord has rebuilt my life and has allowed me to have joy in this life through His tender mercies and through the Atonement of the Lord.”
No matter how wounded you are, God can heal you. And it’s a privilege, a miracle, to see what He can make of your brokenness. He can take the shattered pieces of your life and rebuild it into something even greater—a glorious whole that is made stronger, more beautiful, more complete by its once having been broken.
So often we want to forget our pain, but how could we? Battles hard fought and hard won cannot and should not be forgotten. The point of adversity is to refine us—to teach us, to strengthen us, to make us better than we were before. Pain is not just an unfortunate side effect of living. It is essential to our growth.
The Lord told Moroni, “Because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong” (Ether 12:37). And He told the Apostle Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). The Savior’s power enables us to turn our weaknesses into strengths—but only when we humble ourselves before Him. Acknowledging our weakness is the price of receiving His strength. And being first broken is the price of being made whole, or, in other words, perfect.
Even Jesus Christ was once broken. We remember this each time we take the sacrament: “And when he had given thanks, he brake [the bread], and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you” (1 Corinthians 11:24).
Not only was His body broken for us—so was His spirit. In His darkest, most difficult moments, He cried out, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me” (Luke 22:42), and, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). He was more hurt, more broken than we could possibly imagine.
The pain we experience in this life is infinitesimal compared to what the Savior endured for us. But because of His sacrifice, He knows perfectly how to succor us. He understands exactly how we feel. And He knows, better than anyone, that our lowest valleys can lead up to our highest mountains. That our brokenness can give way to godliness.
In the ancient Japanese art of kintsugi, broken pottery is mended with gold. The cracks, instead of being hidden, are highlighted to show respect for the vessel’s history and showcase the beauty of a broken thing made whole.2
What if we could learn to do the same? To celebrate the person we have become, not despite our struggles but because of them?
The poet Robert Bly wrote, “Where a man’s wound is, that is where his genius will be.”3 Our wounds inform our experience and shape our journey. They teach us things we can’t learn in a classroom. Our moments of brokenness inspire us to turn to the Savior for healing, to humble ourselves, to rely completely on Him. They allow us, bit by bit, to become more like Him.
Jesus Christ would not be the Savior if He had not endured His brokenness. And you would not be the glorious person you are becoming if you were not required to endure your own. When you recognize that, you can say with Paul, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). You can finally thank God for the gift of your brokenness.