I have a million different ideas swirling around in my head, but it is difficult to grasp one idea, pin it down, and write about it. This fall has been a wonderful, emotional, and somewhat crazy season as I have been, once again, prompted, prodded, and pushed into uncomfortable honesty with myself. There have been things brought out in me during this season that I haven’t realized before…or wanted to face. A million different shards of a broken life, fractured and jagged, and being put back together into a new mosaic, a new creation being formed by the greatest Artist. I have had the opportunity to see glimpses of what this transformation is going to be, little looks at the bigger picture. As human beings, we only see the pieces around us, only a corner of the world. We cannot see the greater tapestry that our lives are woven into, a colorful, beautiful image reflecting the glory and wonder of the Creator.
I took an art class in high school experimenting with multiple art mediums. One of my favorite, and most frustrating, mediums was creating a stained glass piece. Every day that I would work with the glass, I would end up with cuts and slivers of glass embedded into my skin. Scoring the glass, then snapping it off always caused me to flinch in fear, expecting that I would become injured by the razor-sharp edge of the glass. Each piece of glass would then rest in a groove of lead, suddenly safer to touch, nestled into its leaden home. A heat gun helped solder the lead together and suddenly, a picture began to emerge. It was inspiring to watch as every person created something different, even though we were given the same materials to work with.
The broken edges of my own life tend to cause pain and injury to those I love, those that love me. My jagged sides leave wounds and scars on those I hold most dear, causing them to flinch in apprehension as my anger, my pain, bubbles up over the surface and sends its shards out into the world. I can be razor-sharp, and without care, I can wound others deeply. This is my brokenness, my sin, and it pains me to know that it is there. Pains me to know that my failings and faults as a person can be so hurtful.
But the joy found in that is that I know where my weaknesses are. I am aware of my own brokenness and aware of my tendencies to lash out when I feel threatened. I can feel the love of the Savior smoothing out those edges, and breaking off those pieces that are sharp and jagged. They will not rest in the home that has been prepared for me, and so they must be removed, sanded down, washed away. And that process can be painful. We are all so good at holding on to what is comfortable, what is “normal”, but that same stuff may be what weakens us, what soils us. We hold on to past hurts, past experiences, grasping them tightly even when their sharp edges cut us deeper. Allowing Jesus to take those from us can be an exercise of trust, and for so many, trusting is one of the hardest things to do. Letting go of the idea that I need to be the one who “does” something, and trusting Jesus to be the one to heal me, to love me, is a huge step, and may feel impossible. Waiting on the Lord is a lesson in trust and a hard lesson to learn. But knowing Him now, resting in His peace, knowing that the work He is doing within me is so very needed….that is the beauty that comes from allowing Him to work with me, that is the freedom that arises from letting go. Letting go of those things that tear me apart, letting go of the old life, the lies, the poison of the past, and resting in the new. What was once a piece of glass, jagged and flawed, is slowly becoming a bigger part of a whole beautiful picture. And then there is the heat. As pieces come together, there takes heat to make them stick. Just as glass within lead needs to be soldered together, so it take refinement by fire to burn away that which is not needed. It is through this process we are strengthened and brought together, one with another.
Stained glass windows are still one of my favorite things. I am in awe of the work that is needed to create the piece. The imagination and vision needed to create a picture made simply of glass and lead is astounding to me. Someday I hope to get to Europe and travel around, just to see the art and the architecture of old churches and buildings, and, of course, those beautiful windows.