Sitting on my desk is a paper with the heading Kaleidoscope. And it got me thinking, what is a kaleidoscope? If you think about it, a kaleidoscope is a small tube like structure into which broken bits and pieces of color are seemingly haphazardly placed. Each colorful shard is rough around the edges. They appear sharp to the touch yet when they are placed in the midst of the other bits of brokenness and light is cast on them something beautiful begins to happen. An image, a colorful image appears.
So much of our lives are spent piling the bits of our brokenness away into the dark recesses of our lives. We hide our past failures afraid of what others might think. We bury our addictions for fear of getting caught or letting someone down. We pull into ourselves and slowly beat ourselves up over mistakes and poor choices. All the while we’re putting on a happy face for those around us. They see the outer shell of the kaleidoscope but have no idea what it contains.
But there’s another problem and it’s not the part we hide but the part on which we focus. You see, since a kaleidoscope is made up of the broken bits that have fallen into the cylinders of our lives, we don’t see them. We hide them even from ourselves. All we see however is the brokenness that exists on the outside. We see the loneliness. We see the pain. We see the shame and ugliness that screams at us. We look at ourselves under a microscope to find imperfection but look from a distance on the lives of others where imperfection can’t be seen.
Our era is filled with brushed up images of perfection. People can’t take a picture without posing. They use filter after filter to cover what they don’t want others to see. The only parts of ourselves we put out for others to witness are the glorified parts of the story when we have it all or at least mostly together.
Remember that kaleidoscope? Remember how it contains bits of brokenness that when illumined by light create a beautiful work of art? Well that’s what our lives are like. The light we shine on these collected piles of brokenness is the light of grace and truth. The bible is filled with pages and stories of how when we are at our weakest God is seen in all his power and glory. So let’s shine a light into that kaleidoscope and see if things change.
Pick up that kaleidoscope. Today we need to look into that cylinder. It’s time to take our focus off of the broken images all around us and look deep within at the bits and shards that make up the kaleidoscope of our lives. Let the light of forgiveness and grace shine through. Let his love illuminate the darkest recesses of our hearts. Can you see them? The colors are breathtaking. Each one tells a story.
The blues remind us of the tears we shed. The reds are symbols of our pains. The purples that splatter the inner parts of the image bring to our minds the poor choices we’ve made. The greens take us back to our greed and selfishness. The yellow sparkles are the times of joy that are far more abundant than you had realized.
There are more colors throughout and they each have their own story to tell. But in this image is no darkness. None at all. It’s all filled with light. Each colorful shard has it’s pain or sadness or joy or anger. But take one out and you’re left with a hole. The picture isn’t the same anymore. Something is missing. While the experience or decision may have brought difficulty in the moment, it leaves in it’s wake some of the brightest colors imaginable.
The image of brokenness is evil and horrible and devastating when all we look at is the pain on the outside. But it’s time to take our eyes off of the problem and start looking at the change that’s happening. Look to the inside. Pick up the kaleidoscope. Point it toward the light of mercy and grace and watch as the picture forms. It’s your life. All of it, the good – bad – and ugly parts of it are on full display and they are beautiful and wonderful and amazing.
There’s nothing in that image that looks like death anymore. There’s nothing in that image that even resembles the fears and guilt you originally had. The inside of a kaleidoscope is what makes it so wonderful. And the same goes for you and me. It’s the inner parts, the brokenness, the healing, and yes even the pain that make us who we are. Just shine the light of grace, forgiveness and mercy against them and you’ll begin to see the beautiful work of art God is creating in you.