January 16, 2015

Broken Pieces, Beautiful Windows

Gary Thomas — 

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What if God makes “art” out of our moments of brokenness, sin, mistakes, and even marital disasters?

Joe White is president of Kanakuk Kamps and founder of Kids Across America. He uses a word picture that I’ve found rather moving. He begins by saying that none of

God’s “paintings” are on canvas. “They’re all made of thousands of broken pieces, skillfully picked up and dusted off and soldered together into magnificent murals. The broken pieces are made of our hurts and hard times.”

I love this picture. Maybe the “broken glass” in your relationship is a time of poverty or joblessness. Maybe there’s a miscarriage, a family death, a sickness. Maybe there was an affair, a lapse into sin or addiction, a long “winter” of marital discontent.

These are all awful things, terrible things, but once they happen to both of you, they are a part of your story. They have shaped who you are as a couple. Without them, you wouldn’t be the couple you are. Would you rather be a couple without losing a child or facing that affair? Of course.

But God makes beautiful things out of broken things. He is the master at manufacturing amazing “stained glass windows”—pieces of broken glass that, on their own, look like disasters, but when grouped together by a skillful artist, actually create something that takes your breath away.

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As a date night exercise, why not discuss with your spouse what you both think have been the most significant “broken pieces of glass” in your relationship? Have some tissues handy. Some of these broken pieces never stop hurting.

After admitting the hurt, talk about how those broken pieces are now part of the beauty of your marriage. You’re not saying you wished what happened had happened, or that you would want it to happen again. Together, standing in awe admitting, we hate what happened, and in many ways we hate it still, but look at what God has done through it. This is who we are now, and though “this” has been built on the back of some horrendous experiences, those experiences truly have shaped us and made us into what and who we are.

God is creating a stained glass window out of the brokenness and hurts in your relationship, your marriage, and your family. I just want you to start seeing it.

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6 responses to Broken Pieces, Beautiful Windows

  1. Dear Brokenpiece,

    I’m in the same boat as you. The love of my life had an affair and, even when I said I can forgive and let’s get some counselling, he chose not to and instead chose to move me out of our home and move his girlfriend in. I continued to pray but now, whereas I still hoped that we could reconcile, divorce proceedings are now taking place. I have no choice in this.

    With regard to what you said about Gary’s piece, I think this really concerns marriages where bad things have happened but they remain together. It can’t be used for our circumstances, of course not. But even though it doesn’t fit as an illustration for us exactly, I still believe that God can taken the slivers of the shattering of our hearts and do something with them.

    Before you have me down as some mealy-mouth sop who floats around with a big Jesus smile on her face whilst life dishes out dirt – that’s not me. I have ranted, raved, raged at God and everyone within shooting distance of me as I’ve tried to assimilate the disaster that befell my marriage and my life. But even in this, hear me now, even in this, when I’ve shouted at the face of God and jabbed my finger in his chest in my anger, I have still known deep down that somehow this won;t be wasted. God can make something beautiful out of the horrific chaos that is our current situation.

    I’m praying for you as much as I’m praying for me, my friend, because I KNOW just how hard this path is that we are currently walking. Keep the faith.

  2. i love your posts Mr Thomas. They help me project my faith in line with what Jesus died to pay for. Permit me to say to you, brokenpiece, that there is no such thing as OVER when God is involved. And this is the whole point- to look past the despair and pain and even the person and yourself, to God. He is the artist. It is He who can be the one who determines whether there can come a stained glass window of your broken piece or not.

  3. Stained glass windows as pictured here are carefully designed and exactingly cut from virgin glass. What you would do with a broken piece is make a mosaic – out of a lot of other broken pieces. It could be beautiful and interesting, but not the same, and not united with the piece it was made to go with. So you should probably come up with a different photo to illustrate this.
    Why do I bring this up? Because I am getting divorced. My spouse was unfaithful and had absolutely no interest in exploring reconciliation. I love your posts, but I have not had the opportunity to work through these things with my spouse. It would have been at least nice to be able to try. I feel if he had been willing, things could have been mended. He is just gone and there is nothing I can do about it. Currently, I am a broken piece, displaced, not a part of any beautiful work of art. Nothing has come together, either with that other broken piece I was with, or any other broken pieces.

    • Do you get what I am saying, Gary? When glass breaks it shatters, and you can’t make a window out of it. It’s OVER, and you are not going to get together and talk about those bad times and get past them to be a better stronger thing of it. You might have a chance of beauty with something very different, but that particular thing is OVER. Broken glass/ stained glass windows is not a good illustration for a marriage that has any hope whatsoever.

  4. We should be a masterpiece one day.

  5. Absolutely!
    Stunning picture of our lives!