Brokenness can be mended
by Claire Law
Suitable for Whole School (Sec)
To explore how brokenness can be both a challenge and a chance for growth.
Preparation and materials
- You will need the PowerPoint slides that accompany this assembly (It's Broken!)and the means to display them.
- Have available the following YouTube videos and the means to show them during the assembly:
- ‘Mr Bean – car squashed by tank’, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nifdpFOY1FQ. The video is 2.31 minutes long, but play it up to 1.10 minutes.
- ‘Mr Bean – car repaired by tank’ (1.11 minutes long), available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-zJr9p3688
Show Slide 1.
Ask the students how they feel if something that they regard as important gets broken or damaged.
To help the students to consider this, show the YouTube video ‘Mr Bean – car squashed by tank’ up to 1.10 minutes.
Ask the students how they think they would feel if this happened to them. Answers will hopefully include feelings such as annoyed, disappointed, frustrated and angry.
Sometimes, when something in our life goes wrong, something important to us breaks or someone lets us down, we want to respond by throwing a tantrum, sulking or crying. Sometimes, things can feel very bad!
Ask the students how they think they would react if they accidentally dropped their brand-new smartphone. Ask them to raise their hand if they would answer yes to the following questions.
- Would they cry?
- Would they shout?
- Would they scream?
- Would they blame someone else?
- Would they laugh?
It’s natural to feel angry and disappointed when things do not go as we want, or when something breaks or lets us down. Sometimes, we can become angry and disappointed in ourselves if we don’t manage to achieve the things we set out to do. In fact, we may find ourselves wishing that we could turn back time and do things differently. A bit like this . . .
Show the YouTube video ‘Mr Bean – car repaired by tank’.
Today, we are going to consider another way to respond.
- What if we accepted, embraced and even valued brokenness?
- What if we sought to see the good in situations that did not go exactly to plan?
- What if we decided to accept that not everything, including ourselves, needs to be perfect?
The following story suggests that there is always a chance to learn from brokenness.
Show Slide 2 and then read the following story.
The Story of the Cracked Pots
A water-bearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across the back of her neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, whereas the other pot was perfect. The uncracked pot always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, whereas the cracked pot arrived only half-full.
This went on every day for two years, with the water-bearer delivering only one and a half pots of water to her master’s house. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for the end for which it was made. But the poor, cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been intended for.
After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, the cracked pot spoke to the water-bearer one day by the stream. ‘I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you,’ the cracked pot said.
‘Why?’ asked the water-bearer. ‘What are you ashamed of?’
‘I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,’ answered the pot.
The water-bearer felt sorry for the old, cracked pot. In her compassion, she said, ‘As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.’
Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old, cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it a little.
But at the end of the trail, the pot still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, so again, it apologized to the water-bearer for its failure.
The water-bearer asked the pot, ‘Did you notice that there were flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?’
The cracked pot looked confused.
‘That is because I have always known about your flaw,’ explained the water-bearer. ‘I took advantage of your imperfection. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path and every day, as we have walked back from the stream, you have watered the flowers so that they could grow! For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not have been these beautiful flowers.’
The story makes the point that none of us are perfect. We often make mistakes and things go wrong. In fact, you could say that each of us is broken. But it’s the cracks and flaws that we each have that make our lives together so interesting and rewarding. It is from our problems and mistakes that we can learn and grow.
But what about objects that get broken? Most of us are fairly attached to our gadgets, or other possessions. When things that we value get broken, how can we respond in a way that doesn’t involve anger and frustration? Perhaps we can learn something from an ancient Japanese art form called kintsugi.
Show Slide 3.
Kintsugi is the art of repairing a broken piece of pottery in a way that makes the flaw or the break obvious by highlighting the join with molten gold. In this way, the story of the piece of pottery is celebrated. The brokenness and damage is part of the pot’s history and it is not hidden; instead, it is celebrated. When things go wrong, or something important breaks, there is an opportunity to accept it and learn from it. It can become part of our experience and the journey of our lives. It can be a chance to learn from the difficult emotions of disappointment and frustration and to grow into a wiser and more mature human being as a result.
Time for reflection
There is another way to respond when things go wrong or we feel broken. For people of many faiths, when they experience problems or get things wrong, they turn to God in prayer. Psalm 147.3 tells us that God is close to those who feel broken.
Show Slide 4.
Let’s pause for a moment and consider the following questions.
- What are we struggling with today?
- Is there something in our lives that causes us to feel ‘broken-hearted’?
- Who is there to help us in these times of need? Family? Friends? God?
Let us pray for the times when we feel anger, frustration and disappointment when things break.
God, we ask you to help us manage these feelings.
Help us to respond positively by accepting and learning from the situation.
Help us to accept our own faults and mistakes as part of our journey and story.
Grant us the willingness to seek help from family, friends and you when we feel let-down and disappointed.
Help us with this today, we pray.