Why Not Wabi-Sabi for Broken People?

(Read in :03)“There’s nothing as exciting as a comeback – seeing someone with dreams, watching them fail, and then getting a second chance.” ~Rachel Griffiths

Rebirth, fresh starts, mending as an art form, wabi-sabi, do-overs, prodigal homecoming parties. I get all goosebumpy when a message starts calling to me from every direction. Maybe it’s Easter and the Resurrection that has stirred my soul. Could it be the trees popping out in brilliant colors where there were only bare and lifeless sticks before? Or is it when I witness the magic of burying a papery brown blob in the cold dirt for a long winter and boom! Tulips, hyacinths and daffodils come smiling up at me.

Human beings are incredibly resilient and can spring back strong and bright after the most tragic circumstances. A whole generation of Holocaust survivors are a testimony to our innate ability to heal.

“When you go through disappointments or tough times, you may feel like you’ve been buried. You may feel like you’re in a dark, lonely place. You may feel like it’s the end; but in reality, it’s only the beginning. The fact is, you haven’t been buried; you have been planted. That means you’re coming back.”~Joel Osteen

Yep, you guessed it. The book arrived.

Just a week ago I wrote about fear and worry. I’d had a little taste of a recently published book People of the Second Chance (#POTSC) and the organization behind it, www.secondchance.org. Seldom has a concept grabbed me by the heart and stopped me in my tracks like this one. Here’s why. We all do the best we can at living life. Everyone makes mistakes, suffers hurts, feels pain and we all fall short. So, I suggest we all deserve to have a re-do. Personally, I serve a God who delights in second chances!

Everything old is new again. We’ve heard that before! Recent publications suggest we’re beginning to look at life differently. Isn’t it fascinating? Trendy magazines have featured mending as an art form, honest. (Take a look at Pinterest if you think I’m making this up.)  It is now considered a noble pursuit to rescue favorite garments with artful, creative, visible repairs. Repurposing and upcycling instead of dumping things in the landfill are hip-and-with-it concepts today. Growing our own food, raising chickens and farm-to table dining is cool and trendy. I find it all exhilarating.

Wabi-Sabi for People

Wabi-sabi is a philosophy that embraces “finding beauty in broken things or old things.” It refers to an awareness of the transient nature of earthly things and an admiration for the things that bear the mark of this impermanence.  Many of us believe broken objects have lost their value. It’s the way we’ve been enculturated here in the “modern” world.

Kintsugi  is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum. This technique conveys a philosophy not of replacement, but of awe, reverence, and restoration. The gold-filled cracks of a once-broken item are a testament to its history and become the most beautiful elements in the object.

Why not upcycle, repurpose and mend broken people and highlight our own broken places with gold? Our greatest value often comes from making it through the dark places in our journey. What’s more, faults, failures, and flaws are quite often the most intriguing parts of anyone’s story! We should honor the lessons they’ve taught us!

“As I look back on my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” ~Steve Maraboli

Is there anyone brave enough among you to share your second chance story? Oh, how I’d love to hear from you! Have a great weekend everyone, see you Monday!



  • Gail

    When someone you love dies, you stumble… Can you even live without them? Are you enough? Is there some part of their love and energy that will strengthen you through tough times? The answer, after all the sobbing, is “yes.” You have the opportunity to rediscover your talents, to make choices that are good for you and to appreciate all that is given to you. Many doors open…and you learn to love life all over again!

    • Betty Streff

      You are a shining example of a wabi-sabi woman. What a beautiful tribute to your strength. Thank you!!

  • Grant Newbold

    Betty. Thanks so much for bringing new things to all of us. I was not familiar with wabi-sabi or kiutsugi. I looked them both up on wikipedia and was pleasantly surprised by what I saw. As you know I do woodworking but in a special way. I have my own sawmill and turn logs into lumber. Part of the wonder of that process is very much wabi-sabi, in that I often end up with boards with holes, insect burrows, cracks, knots, bark intrusions, and many other “flaws.” My delight is in using those “flaws” to create unique pieces of what I call “utilitarian art.” I also usually mill my lumber for “live edge” and if you aren’t familiar with that a google search for images will show you that wabi-sabi world. Thanks again. It made my day and I wrote those words down for further investigation into how I can learn from them. Dr. Newbold.

  • Sheila Roberts

    One of my girlfriends asked on social media the other day, “How many things do you regret?” I said, “Not too many”. That does not mean that I haven’t made mistakes, I have made many mistakes, I have had many trials. Would I trade away my first born son, who was conceived out of wedlock? Absolutely not. Would I never have ridden a motorcycle because of the danger, and the possibility of a lifetime injury? Never, it is so mind freeing…. If I had gone to college to be an occupational therapist, like my mother wanted me to, I would certainly have more money. But I may not have taken the path that has led me to my current occupation, which is where I am intended to be. Also, I wonder, would I have met my wonderful husband, would I have had my sons and the sons of other women who came to live in my home while I was foster parenting. Each of these young men enriched my life in some way. Many caused significant pain, but I would not trade that pain as it helped me grow into a better Mother and Grandmother. Would I have not had the varied and unusual jobs that I have had, instead of an actual career? No, because each of those jobs contributes to the work I am doing today. I am a better employer because I worked those minimum wage jobs, I am driven to succeed because I love coming to work each day and doing work that I am passionate about. Also, many of the jobs I have done have taught me valuable and actual physical skills that I apply as a sign shop owner. For instance, while working road construction, I learned how to communicate with a team of men. While roofing houses, I learned how to handle construction tools, the correct way to use a measuring tape, a level, and I built muscle. While working in maintenance at a school, I learned about wiring, painting and many other skills, While working in the nursing home, I learned organization, management, communication, and teamwork. I also learned about living a joyful life in the face of adversity, and Christianity. While managing the swimming pool, I learned more about management and problem resolution. (A swimming pool manager spends about 40 percent of their time in problem resolution!). Would I have wished to lose a job that I thought I would stay at until retirement, face my spouse having a highly dangerous cancer and start a new business all within a few months. Well, it would be ok if my husband didn’t have cancer but, our relationship evolved into a more loving and kind relationship than we had pre-cancer. And if I hadn’t lost the job that I planned to stay at till retirement, I wouldn’t be doing work that fully satisfies my inner being. I fully believe that if you just take the time to breathe, enjoy the world around you and just be quiet for a few minutes each day, everything is easier.

    • Betty Streff

      I’ve always admired your spirit and your strength and now I admire you more! You are a true wabi-sabi warrior!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Traci Runge

    We are all broken in some way, but it’s really what makes us whole.

    I love your words, they’re inspiring, thought provoking, healing, encouraging and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your talents & wisdom with others. You are a blessing!

    Peter 4:10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

    If we look hard enough at our “mistakes”, we will see the lessons there are not ONLY to help ourselves, but more importantly to witness to others. ❤️❤️❤️

    • Betty Streff

      Aw thanks, 🙂

      Three quotes come to mind. (I know, what a surprise, right?)

      “Turn your wounds into wisdom”
      Oprah Winfrey

      “Turn your scars into stars”
      Robert Schuller

      “In the service of love, only broken hearts will do.”
      Max Cleland

      We are strongest in our broken places! Love you!

  • Grant Newbold

    Betty. The statement you made in response to Sheila about “wabi-sabi warrior” is so interesting in its use of the words. So many of us have had to do battle with the struggles of life in order to arrive at the place where we were meant to be!!! Such and interesting concept and so nurturing.
    Dr. Newbold,

    • Betty Streff

      Thank you. I have known Sheila for a long time and her life is a testimony to overcoming many difficulties. I have great admiration for her and she truly is a Wabi-Sabi warrior in my eyes. The phrase, whether the precise usage is right or wrong, is something I dreamed up but it fits.

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