Music and the Beauty of Brokenness
Written by Jen Laureen
Recently, I sat at a women’s conference where author and speaker Andrea Lucado discussed how rubble and ruin in our lives doesn’t prohibit us from having a beautiful story. “I think God does the work of Kintsukuroi with our broken stories,” she said. Lucado spoke about the process of Kintsukuroi, the ancient Japanese art of mending broken pottery. During this process, lacquer is mixed with precious metals such as gold, platinum or silver, and sealed into the cracked areas of bowls, plates or other everyday items. Some people believe the broken pieces become even more beautiful than before once they are mended. In essence, Kintsukuroi highlights the beauty in flaws.
As Lucado showed an image of a Kintsukuroi-mended bowl, I had a connect the dots type moment. I thought about a similar image of a bowl repaired by Kintsukuroi that preceded the video for “Sandcastles” in Beyonce’s Lemonade. That image, subsequent imagery in the video and lyrics such as “show me your scars, and I won’t walk away” got me thinking about how music pushes us to celebrate the imperfections in our own lives and embrace vulnerability.
If you simply look at one or two dictionary definitions of the word vulnerable, it can appear to be a bad thing. "Defenseless." "Susceptible and exposed." However, the definition “sensitive” stands out most for me. Music can help us tap into space where we may be unwilling to admit that we’re bruised or even depleted. It has the power to open us up and aid us in acknowledging an uncomfortable situation or emotion. It can provide a dialogue for our hurting hearts or extend an olive branch to someone when we’re unsure of the best way to ask for forgiveness. It may encourage us to understand when our hesitation comes from a place of insecurity and challenge us to perceive ourselves differently. If we let it, music can assist us with examining how we want to be treated and how we should treat others.
I feel as if music’s been an instrument that God’s used to mend broken parts of my life.
On occasion, this has meant listening to Stacy Barthe’s “Flawed, Beautiful People” on repeat and reevaluating my anger towards a family member. It’s also been playing Jill Scott’s “Hear My Call” when trying to make sense of my father’s sudden passing, a disappointment or dreams that have yet to be realized. Quite often it’s singing the worship music I hear in church that challenges me to stop looking at my limits and consider God’s limitless abilities.
I remember watching television the day Michael Jackson died and seeing a person with a sign that read something like “Thank you for being the soundtrack to my youth.” Since then I’ve often thought about how what I’m listening to documents both the minor and major moments in my life. There are a ton of songs that I associate with pure happiness and bliss, and I am so thankful for those. But there’s just something about those songs that have helped me overcome brokenness or hardship that may be a bit more precious to me. “Sandcastles” isn’t Beyonce’s most talked about song or the video with the highest views. However, it may be one of the moments that can help us best understand the healing power music can have in our own lives.
Jen Laureen is is an aspiring novelist who is passionate about issues of faith, diversity and education. She’s previously written for The Philadelphia Tribune and Black Enterprise Magazine. In addition to writing, Jen enjoys spending time at church, listening to various styles of music, reading, and laughing with her husband, two daughters and other loved ones.