Kintsugi, or golden joinery, is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken pottery into a masterful new piece. Rather than hiding the fractures or discarding the piece as unusable, the potter highlights the imperfections with gold, silver, and platinum powders.1 We, too, are broken and imperfect vessels. But God is a kind Artisan. He promises to take what is old, unusable, and broken and transform us into new creations. God redeems and restores all of our brokenness into beauty.
In our marriages, when we wound our spouses with our words, our sin, our selfishness, God commands us to extend the same gift of forgiveness that He has extended to us. But what happens when our sin has broken our marriages into seemingly unfixable pieces? The answer, though stunningly beautiful, is not easy. Jesus not only forgave us, but He reconciled and restored us. The greatest illustration of reconciliation is the cross of Christ.
We must consider three things when working through reconciliation in our marriages:
1. Remember reconciliation to seek reconciliation.
Reconciliation comes from the Greek family of words that has its roots in allasso [ἀλλἀσσο]. The meaning common to this word group is “change” or “exchange.” Reconciliation involves a change in the relationship between God and man or man and man. It assumes there has been a breakdown in the relationship, but now there has been a change from a state of enmity and fragmentation to one of harmony and fellowship.2
Reflecting on who we were before Christ—weak, ungodly, sinful enemies— reminds us of the darkness Christ pulled us out of. He purchased us by the blood of His love so we can live in the light of His love. We have been rescued, reconciled, and redeemed. Because the darkness has no power over us, we can stare it straight in the eye and be reminded of the powerful mercy and grace of Jesus.
Take a few moments to reflect on the unfathomable love, grace, and mercy Jesus poured out on you so that you could have peace with God.
God chose His children when we were weak, ungodly, and sinful enemies. We had no way of earning our salvation or strategizing our rescue. We were utterly hopeless. The exact thing we needed was the exact gift God gave us. We needed a way to stand before a holy God, so God made a way—at a great cost to Himself. Jesus became our sin so we could stand on and in His righteousness.
Remembering this great exchange and reflecting this kind of mercy, love, and grace is how we experience healing and reconciliation in our marriages. When our spouses sin against us—we remember how often we sin against God. When our spouses do something hurtful—we remember that we, too, are capable of hurting them. Even when our spouses reject or betray us—we remember God chose to give up His Son for us while we were rejecting and rebelling against Him. Christ’s reconciliation is the foundation and example for how we treat our spouses when they wrong us.
2. Reconciliation should not be punitive.
Seeking healing and reconciliation in a marriage can feel complicated for believers. We wrestle with questions like: Am I supposed to just get over it? What do I do with all my anger and hurt feelings? Are there no consequences for wrongdoing?
We need to remember how God treats us in our sin. He doesn’t let sin slide, but by grace, He washes us clean and forgives every sin. And even after we come to know Him, if we stray, He lovingly disciplines us—to restore us, not to punish us (Heb. 12:5-11).
God’s mercy and forgiveness doesn’t ignore the crushing pain of betrayal. Scripture talks about pain and suffering in depth, telling us it’s going to happen. God gives meaning to our suffering, creates a path for healing, and promises us that one day we will be completely whole—not one cell of our body will have a trace of brokenness in it. Not one memory will hold the pain we feel now.
3. Reconciliation takes time.
True repentance owns the sin committed. We can fully own what we did wrong because Jesus fully paid the price for it.
Psalm 34:18 promises that God will be near the brokenhearted. One way, arguably the most important way, to pursue reconciliation is to ask the Lord to heal what’s been broken.
Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). We must pray and ask God to help us to be patient as the Lord heals the wounds we have caused our spouses.
Feelings are real. Oftentimes, forgiveness has been granted, but feelings are still hurt. One way to heal forward is by empathizing with your spouse’s wounded feelings. Give space for him/her to feel how he/she feels and trust the Lord to heal.
Just like God pursues us, we must be intentional in slowly and tenderly inviting our spouses back into relationship activities that will produce trust and friendship.
As you see your spouse taking difficult steps of faith, healing, and trust, encourage him or her in what you see the Lord doing. We all know how difficult it can be to take a step of faith when trust has been broken. Take the opportunity to share with your spouse how you see God moving in his or her life.
Excerpted from Complement: Seeing the Beauty of Marriage Through Scripture. Published by Lifeway Press © 2021 Aaron Ivey and Jamie Ivey.
Amy Azzarito, “The Most Glamorous Ways to Fix a Broken Ceramic,” Architectural Digest, June 19, 2017, accessed September 12, 2020, https://www.architecturaldigest.com/ story/kintsugi-japanese-art-ceramic-repair.
“Reconciliation,” Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology, accessed via BibleStudyTools on September 18, 2020, https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/reconciliation.html.