I hate jigsaw puzzles. Yeah, I just said that.
I love games, but jigsaw puzzles mess with me. Even when there’s a box top to look at, they’re just tedious.
I could name a few people right now who are reading this and thinking how wrong I am. (I will allow that puzzle-love is in the eye of the beholder.)
Here’s my best guess as to why they think that: Because when you finish a jigsaw puzzle, it’s way more satisfying than finishing a crossword puzzle or a Sudoku game. You’ve completed something recognizable. Something beautiful.
Sometimes real life is like one giant jigsaw puzzle. Only there is no box top.
Sure, I know how some of the pieces connect. I can feel their edges. Some are smooth, round, easy. Laughter is the curved and comfortable edge of all my relationships: Wife. Mother. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Teacher. Tutor. Coach.
Some pieces fit together easily. Beautifully.
But others press their sharp corners into my fingers, demanding a place.
I try them this way, twist them that. Sometimes I just stare at them, facing the impossible.
I want to walk away for a while, but it’s life, so I don’t get to.
Still, there is this: whether or not I can see the picture I’m aiming for, I know there is a big picture.
There is an Artist.
That always compels me to come back to the table and try again.
Without seeing the big picture, all I can do is give my best effort to fit together the pieces I’m given.
Our kids, with their wide eyes and their needful hearts.
Scrimping, bargain-hunting, managing a family budget.
Creating a sanctuary at home, so that when we come back inside from being busy in the world but not of it, we have a refuge.
Launching a business . . . perhaps a touch this side of crazy adding this to the mix? Yeah, maybe. But it’s a piece I’ve been given.
(And it’s one of my favorites. Writing. Editing. Reading. All in one.) It’s hours spent with all kinds of writing–beautiful words, stumbling phrases, troubling topics. Working to help other authors find their voice. There’s a joy in that I find difficult to describe.
Wringing time out of the end of every day to plot my own novels, sculpt characters, and write, write, write . . .
It takes two things to finish a puzzle: Tenacity and Trust.
Tenacity. Bull-doggedness. The ability to commit to something and not give up. To resist turning my back on the messy dining room table.
Trust. There must be a box top somewhere, right?
I want to be tenacious. This is the only part that’s up to me.
It’s the part that’s up to you, too.
When we focus on the things that matter, focus and stay in the game, that’s tenacity.
With wisdom, steward the gifts you’ve been given. Study the possibilities. Take the risks. Tend to the projects. Wait for the harvest.
Work even if there is little reward.
Pour yourself into your marriage. Pour yourself out for your marriage. Revel in the dance that is love, even when it doesn’t feel like you’re in love. Be the wife or husband that thrills the heart of your other half.
Show your kids how to listen. How to speak in love. How to let go. How to forgive.
Show kindness to the unkind.
And do it some more.
Whatever you do, remember that it is part of a bigger picture.
But it’s not the whole picture.
Sometimes, the Artist will offer us a piece we don’t want to fit in.
Maybe we don’t like the way it looks. Maybe we want to focus on a different part of the puzzle.
I’ve learned the hard way, if my Father holds a piece out to me–no matter how strange it looks, no matter how rough the edges, it’s a good piece.
In fact, it’s the piece I should spend time with.
Sure, I can reject it. I can drop it and pick up another…try to cram that one into the space.
But somehow, some way, that piece has to go in. It’s integral to the design, and there’s no use fighting it.
It’s always better when I Trust.
He knows how the pieces are supposed to fit. He guides my hands when I ask for help, a parent helping a stubborn child conquer a floor puzzle.
He corrects me when I need it. Reminds me to be patient. How often my heart has heard, “It’s not time for that one yet.”
See, He knows the big picture.
And here’s something wild.
My entire puzzle is only a single piece of a jigsaw puzzle that’s bigger than I can comprehend. Yours is in there, too. Parts of a design so intricate, so far-reaching, that we’ll never see the end of it.
But He’s got it covered.
After all, it’s His picture. And He’s looking forward to the big reveal even more than we are.
What makes you keep at it? And where could you use some more tenacity?