One Christmas I had the great idea of putting together a Nativity puzzle during the whole month of December, leading up to Christmas Day. I had daydreams of our family sitting around a cozy card table with cocoa, hunting for pieces, and laughing about our day. It was very Norman Rockwell in my mind.
You might be able to guess how it went down in reality.
It started off really well. There was cocoa in big mugs. There were even mini marshmallows. We spent an evening of joy and comradery finding all the pieces with edges and separating pieces with straw on them from those with animal heads. We had a small scavenger hunt for the Baby Jesus. Then we all went to bed patting ourselves on the back for being a successful family who didn’t destroy one another during family fun night.
For two weeks I would walk by that puzzle and find a small or not so small child picking through pieces, eventually finding the right one and locking it into place with a satisfying snap. I would smile and move about my business.
Then, it happened…someone playing with something resembling a nerf gun got too close to the table and knocked it over. Pieces scattered everywhere. The wood laminate floors only helped them to scatter farther, hiding themselves under baseboard heaters and the early Christmas presents sitting under the tree. It was a mess, but I would not be detoured. We had an awesome thing going, so what’s a few lost pieces? We’ll find them as we go. So, we set the whole deal back up and made a family pact to keep an eye out for errant pieces.
That worked great, until our friends came over for a night of dinner and dominos, which by the way is one of my favorite nights ever invented. We laughed and ate, and ate and laughed. It was all fun and games until a potty-training child PEED ON THE PUZZLE.
Yes, as toddlers often do, one thought that seemed like a good idea at the time turned into another thought that seemed like a good idea at the time. In my joy and laughter, I had forgotten about the puzzle entirely and just left it lay on a card table in the living room with a two-year-old. Duh, not my best work. Said adorable two-year-old thought those puzzle pieces looked good enough to eat, but upon discovering their pleasing edges and cardboard-y texture, decided to see what would happen if he scattered them everywhere with really fast hand motions across the table top. (For the record, I totally get it. I want to do the same thing every time I look at a table of puzzle pieces.) Once, those pieces were on the floor, when you have got to go, you have got to go, so he knew well enough to take off his training pants, but not well enough where to go with the pee.
Bummer for my puzzle.
My husband, upon seeing my face, volunteered spritely to wash the puzzle pieces. Awwww. That was so thoughtful of him. FYI – cardboard just isn’t washable, pretty much ever.
What were we left with? About 30 pieces to a 1000 piece puzzle.
Sometimes, we are left looking at a table of our life, which holds 30 pieces to what we know is a 1000 piece puzzle.
On the really great days and seasons we might even have 700 of those pieces on the table of our life, but it’s still hard to really get the full picture without the other 300. The puzzle isn’t complete, it doesn’t really make sense with only so many of the pieces and parts.
Paul was a guy who often longed for the time he would have all the pieces. Aren’t we all? He understood all the joys relationship and experiences in this life bring, but he knew he would only ever see, hear, and understand part of the picture standing here on this earth.
He said it so beautifully in 1 Corinthians 13:12 - For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
As badly as I want to understand all the pieces of the relationship puzzle, be the best wife, the best mom, the best sister, the best friend, the best daughter, the best writer I can be, I will never quite understand it all, understand my place entirely, and understand all God is doing with me and through me.
God knows fully.
God knows me fully.
He sees all 1000 pieces inside of me. He sees all 1000 pieces of my life and my dreams and my relationships. Sometimes He helps me slide things into just the right place, so they click on the first try, more often, He rubs my back and encourages me to try again.
Because God knows me fully, knows the story of this life fully, the story of your life fully, we can work through it together. We can sit down and talk, drink from big cocoa mugs, and look through the pieces together. Slowly, we’ll watch the puzzle begin to fit together, sometimes someone will pee on it and we’ll try again. This is life together. This is the beautiful, miraculous, frustrating, wonderous puzzle He is working.
Let’s love brave and sit at that table together.
I’ve never laughed so hard during this series as when I read Heidi’s post. That puzzle got what it deserved, with a capital pee. I mean, really, only people with 10/10 patience can piece together a 1000-piece puzzle. What were you expecting, Heidi? And, Dave, I want to thank you for being an awesome husband. Yes! Let’s wash the pee off of the puzzle pieces. (I’M STILL LAUGHING AS I TYPE! CAN’T YOU TELL FROM ALL THE CAPS I’M USING!?) So, there are 30 pieces left form the 1000-piece puzzle, and sometimes, my life feels like that. Jesus, I don’t understand what’s going on right now. Sometimes, it seems like I’m putting the puzzle together upside-down, looking only at the cardboard backing. Can you throw me a corner piece, even an edge? Let’s put some structure around this chaos, Lord! He responds, “Naw, just look at the cover on the box!” You may not have every piece, and you may not be able to put it all together, but let me tell you, Jesus knows what it’s supposed to look like. He knows how it’s GOING TO BE. He tells us. More than that, He shows us through His death and resurrection. He shows us life and invites us to live it, even when we struggle to put it all together.