The kids and I were playing with puzzles a few nights ago. Puzzles hold a special place in my heart. I remember spending weekend evenings with my grandparents playing board games and putting puzzles together. They would often have thousand-piece puzzles partially assembled on top of the bumper pool table and we’d take a few minutes or several every time we passed to try to place another piece.
On our honeymoon, Phil and I decided to buy puzzles as our souvenirs of the places we visited so that in the years to come, we could reminisce while spending quality time together. (Five and a half years and two kids later, most of those puzzles are still in their original packaging. I hold out hope for retirement, or at least a time when the kids won’t scatter the pieces to the floor.)
So, we’re putting puzzles together, the 4 1/2 year old, the 3-year-old and me, and we’re sorting the outside pieces of a Tinkerbell puzzle only to discover that we’re missing some of the outside pieces. I don’t know about you but when a puzzle piece is missing, it sort of drives me crazy. And if it’s an outside piece, I almost can’t go on with the puzzle.
With only a little bit of searching, we found the missing outside pieces and continued to put the puzzle together. (Correction: It was mostly me putting the puzzle together. Isabelle was handing me pieces and trying a few of her own while Corban was pulling all the other puzzles out of the bin and lining up which ones would be next.)
As we neared the end, we noticed another missing piece. It was nowhere to be found, so we “finished” the puzzle and put it back in the box.
Life, right now, feels like an unfinished puzzle. Some days it feels like a million-piece two-sided puzzle with missing pieces and no picture to guide us. I feel like God is watching us try to figure it out and isn’t giving us any help.
This is not true, though. I know that. God isn’t cruel. He’s good. And patient. And loving. Things that I’m not. He isn’t trying to frustrate us, although He may try to frustrate our plans for His better plans. We’re learning through this, even if the lessons are hard and well, frankly, they suck.
My husband has a job in Lancaster, which for us, is the first piece of the puzzle. And it IS a good thing. The commute, and the gas, is wearing on me. And the being without a car more often than not. And trying to entertain the kids for hours and hours and hours on end without losing my mind or patience. And still needing to ask our parents for help with rent and bills because my husband hasn’t reached full-time hours yet.
I am truly, truly grateful for what we have. We will not end up on the street. We will not go hungry. We have so, so much to be thankful for, and a house full of stuff we could give to others in need.
Some days, I wish it wasn’t so hard. That we’d get a glimpse of the picture. That another piece would fall into place.
I know people who have framed completed puzzles as artwork. I think that’s a neat idea. And my hope is that some day, we’ll be able to put this puzzle of life on display as one of many instances of God’s handiwork in our lives. Of a beautiful, wonderful picture of His grace.