I’ve broken my share of dishes over the years. I’m not just looking back to my years as a klutzy kid; as a klutzy adult, I broke a plate last week. It was a plate we’ve had for 40 years. All I could do was offer a heartfelt “oops” and toss the pieces in the trash.

As you look to the new year ahead of you, you’re going to drop some things. Maybe it’s one of your New Year’s resolutions. Maybe you’ll mess up at work … disappoint your kids … say words you’ll regret. Who knows? But I know this, you’re going to fail in 2022. I will too.

Those failures don’t define you, but you can use them to help shape you.

Kintsugi Pottery

In the epilogue of his book The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, Justin Whitmel Earley wrote, “A great life comes not by the way you avoid failure, but by the way you handle failure.” He connected failure to kintsugi pottery. This was a new term to me, but kintsugi is a unique approach to broken pottery. For me, last week’s mishap with a plate meant waving goodbye as I threw the pieces away. But for those who practice the Japanese art of kintsugi, they would repair that plate with more than glue; they would piece the plate back together and inlay the cracks with a precious metal like gold. You can see by this photo that kintsugi makes for a prettier plate or bowl. Interestingly, the pottery is not only prettier; it is stronger.

Earley offers this conclusion: “The scars are the design. Your attention is drawn to the cracks and how they are mended. That is what you’re supposed to see. The beauty is in the brokenness.”

It’s when we’re broken and we acknowledge that brokenness that God can do something beautiful in our lives.

“The Lord is near the brokenhearted; he saves those crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18).

“For the High and Exalted One, who lives forever, whose name is holy, says this: ‘I live in a high and holy place, and with the oppressed and lowly of spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and revive the heart of the oppressed’” (Isa. 57:15).

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:3-4).

God does not cause you to fail, but when you trust and follow Him, He will strengthen you, comfort you, and use those failures in your life. You could be a way for God to work in the lives of others who have also failed.

“He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:4).

Go ahead and jump headfirst into 2022. When you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Fall right back into God’s arms. You don’t need to rejoice in your failure, but you can embrace that failure as a way to grow. Trust God to shape you, grow you, and minister through you. Those failures don’t define you, but they can help shape you. Embrace those failures as a way to grow.

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