Last summer, I was blessed to have the opportunity to learn how the methods (and the madness) behind the making of stained glass. Stained glass is actually a more complicated process then it would seem, and after much training, cuts, blood, tears from having to take it apart and start over, and burns (solder is hot, people), I finally had my finished cross, which actually wasn’t half-bad in case you were wondering.
But as part of the workshop, we were shown how the process is a metaphor. A beautiful metaphor for life.
I’ll give you a hint. The stained glass is us.
Brokenness is rampant in the world. Many lives are broken from a major loss, a death, a broken heart, a crisis. Sometimes it isn’t even a major event, but so many little ones that lead to a person crippled, kneeling and feeling unable to take another hit. People cut, people hurt, and they despair looking at the broken pieces of their lives. In the lyrics of the beautiful song, Iris, “Yeah, you bleed just to know you’re alive”.
You look around at the shattered pieces of your life and can only ask a question for which you expect no answer: “Why?”
Why? Why did this happen?
Because it had to.
The first part of stained glass making is the breaking. You first select your piece, and then, taking a sharp blade, score it (mark it) in the shape you want. Sometimes all it takes is one deep cut, sometimes repeated shallow cuts, and after it’s scored, you break it. And you repeat this until your original sheets of glass are in small, indiscernible pieces that you could never put back together.
But do you want to?
After the breaking, you sift through your pieces, selecting the right ones, the best. These then are cleaned, foiled, and soldered together through intense heat. And after it is cooled, your finished project is beautiful. A masterpiece that filters and colors light and emits beauty.
But the masterpiece would never have happened without the break.
In brokenness, we find our true selves. The best pieces of ourselves. We have a deep, intimate knowledge of us, and are fully able to see which parts are good, beneficial, and godly, and which ones aren’t.
We are strongest here. Here in this brokenness, we are able to make a conscious decision to leave behind the parts of ourselves that are lacking, and to recreate ourselves with only the best parts.
Now we have our pieces, broken though they may be, but ready to be renewed. But we are missing the main component. The only way we can be made whole and strong. The solder.
Christ is the solder. Christ is the cement that picks us up out of our brokenness, and through the Fire and heat of His love, binds together our broken pieces. Our brokenness become something new, enveloped and surrounded by Him. And our new masterpiece allows the Light of Christ to flow through us better.
And what happens when the new masterpiece is not right? When we take along a few pieces that just don’t fit? We have to break again. We have to start over, over and over again until we finally reach our fullest. And it will happen. You will break again.
But it is beautiful. Brokenness is a beautiful thing. It allows something new to be created that would never have been able to before. Something new that better shows the Light of Christ, the One who makes us whole again.
To again quote Iris, “Everything is made to be broken”. You can choose to sit in you brokenness an despair, or you can realize its beauty, its potential. The opportunity for the creation of a beautiful masterpiece.
And the finished masterpiece is much more beautiful than the sheets that you started with.