Glory in Stained Glass
By: Lori Heine
Our sexual orientation is an important piece of the puzzle for us. It is, indeed, a very large piece – but it is still only a piece. For some of us, it takes some time after we've come out for us to get the pieces all put together. We may even think that because we found that one piece and put it into place, our puzzle is now complete. For some very well-rounded and mature individuals, that very well may be, but for most of us, it is not.
The sexual orientation piece is so crucial that there's a hole in our lives without it. It feels great, for most of us, to get it fit into place. There can be no doubt that it's a relief, because we're incomplete without it. But God created, for each of our lives, a whole, beautiful picture, and the object of our lives is to put the whole puzzle together so that picture is complete. It is "His" will that we don't stop until we have a whole picture, because then - and only then - can we truly shine.
Life doesn't end when the picture is whole. That's when it really begins. That's when we are at last able to go forward on the path God has charted for us, and play the role we were destined to fill. Each of us is actually a piece in a larger puzzle, and God needs for each of us to fit into our proper place.
Perhaps it's better to think about the picture not as a puzzle, but as a very large and detailed stained-glass window. God's lovely light can only shine through in a way that shows the picture when every little piece is in its preordained place. The light would be there anyway, and it is entirely necessary. Without that light, the window would be dark and incomprehensible. We are essential, in putting that multicolored puzzle together, so that through it God's glory can show forth.
Stained-glass windows enable human beings to participate in the glory of God. The light shows through them, telling a story God needs us to tell. A window shot through with gaping holes bears sad testimony to God's glory. This is why it's so important to find every little piece and make sure it's in place. And it's why those who would have us leave some pieces out do no justice to God.
In order to really shine in this world, we need to be complete people. As compelling as it is to belong to the group, human beings seldom form their groups in ways that encourage us to be distinct individuals. Sadly, this tends to be true as often in LGBT groups as it does in others. All too often, when we take off the mask we've hidden behind while in the closet, we promptly replace it with another mask. It can be a cold world out there, and we want to belong somewhere.
Again, some people are so well-rounded, so mature and so self-confident that they know just who they are as soon as they've come out. They emerge from the cocoon of the closet like butterflies fully and gloriously formed. I envy them. It was not that easy for me. It has not been that easy for many of us.
To truly give glory to God, we must fit in every piece of our puzzle with precision. We must bring to the project every aspect of who we really are. Every hope, every conviction and every concern must show up in that picture. We cannot be complete if we deny being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. But neither can we be complete if this is all we think we are.
As more and more people come out all over the country, our nationwide community expresses an ever-greater diversity. We are very much a rainbow within the rainbow. That's a pretty sight, indeed a most spectacular one. Think of the stained-glass window it would make. In fact, it is a stained-glass window, showing forth the exuberant creativity of God.
No church window is composed of monotone colors. Almost all of them splash forth in a wide variety of hues. God chose not to make everybody alike. We ourselves have been trying to make that point to the public for decades. What a tragedy it is when we forget that the variety of creation includes so much more than merely sexual orientation.
Not everyone takes seriously the notion that God created the world. Many have given up believing, because for so long they have been told that God's creation somehow manages to exclude them. I believe that LGBT Christians may be uniquely able to reconcile the diversity so undeniably present in society with the fact that - hello! - nobody else could have created it but the God who, upon resting from "His" labors, proclaimed it "good." We are as much a part of that creation as everyone else. God proclaimed us good, too.
Perhaps we need to trust each other more. We're always being told that if an election doesn't go this way instead of that, we'll all be rounded up and placed in death camps or something equally dire. It is unconscionable the way we are played by the political operators who manipulate emotions to get votes. We have been treated like little more than an ATM machine by some of them. For others, we've functioned like the bogeyman parents used to tell their children would eat them if they came home late.
Regardless of our personal political views, it's clear that to function as an effective force in our own right, we need to know who we are. The fact that those in our community are so varied in every way besides sexual orientation need not be a threat to our existence or our advancement. What it actually does is expose the rhetoric of our enemies - that we supposedly all have one outlook, one set of character traits or one "agenda" - as a pathetic lie. The strategy we have been using – remaining under the wing of only one political party - is obviously not working. Those of us who join a different party, or support other candidates, because we genuinely feel it's better for us (and almost nobody does so because they want to be destroyed) help to uphold the principle that we have the right to think, too.
God made each and every one of us because God wants us to exist. He dreamed us up before we were conceived, perhaps even before the world was formed, and said "I want her to be," or "what an interesting human being he will make." And yes, that definitely means each and every LGBT person, too. You are unique because, to our Creator, you are very special. God steps back from the stained-glass window of humanity and revels in "His" handiwork.
We're urgently needed in every political party in this country. And in every denomination and church. They can't lie about us when they have to do it face-to-face, and when those to whom they try to lie know better - because they know us. It is precisely those LGBT's who have had to endure being called "self-haters" and "Uncle Tom's" who have led us to a time when we don't need to despair if one political party betrays us. "Don't put all your eggs in one basket" has always been sound advice.
Those who would limit us to an easily-managed group want to control us. Imagine what any stained-glass window they would make might look like: a rigid grid of blocks, each block a single color. I suppose it might be pretty in a way, but it wouldn't make much of a picture.
The window each of us makes will - if it truly reflects us - be a brightly varied one. It will burst forth in wild colors, boldly shouting forth the glory of the God Who made us. No two will be alike, and each one of us is special to God. Every stone and pebble of glass is totally necessary to the whole. The Church needs each one of our windows, just as surely as it does everyone else's.
You and I must insist that every part of us be present, so God can shine through us and we can be clearly seen. Every great cathedral is an offering of praise to God, its spires soaring upward, built on the highest hill in the village for weary travelers to see and know they will find God's welcome there. We are dedicated to the causes dear to us - all of them - and to the people who have mattered most in our lives. Without those grand cathedrals, God would still have made those beautiful hills, but we've crowned them with the glory of those created and creating in the very likeness of God. Each member of the human race is here to carry God forth into the world, to proclaim "Him" in our individual existence.
Shine forth, my friends. Let's each be fully ourselves. And may we always stand up for the right of every window, every panel and each little colored chunk of glass to exist. All radiate the pure light of God. Our Creator calls us good - and our Creator loves us all.
Lori Heine serves on Whosoever's board of directors. She maintains a blog called Born on 911 and also contributes to the Whosoever News Blog.
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