When We Can’t Put the “Puzzle” Together . . .

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I have two, 100-piece jigsaw puzzles that I enjoyed putting together with my grandchildren when they were younger. Alphabet ABC’s and numbers (1-10) are printed along the top and sides of each puzzle. It took only a few minutes for my husband and me to put them together, but it took much longer for our grandchildren to do it.

Remembering their excitement and enthusiasm about finding the place where a piece belonged is a happy memory. Mixed in with their “Oh, I found a piece!” exclamations of joy were a few “This is too hard; I can’t do it!” complaints. These were often followed by a “Will you help me, Grandma?” request.

Even when our grandchildren are not with us, my husband and I enjoy putting jigsaw puzzles together. Generally, when we purchase a new puzzle, we find that all of the pieces have been included. But invariably, we can’t find one of the edge pieces and one of us says, “This piece is missing!” or “They forgot to put this piece in the box.” The “missing piece” is usually found among the five or six unplaced puzzle pieces left on the table when the puzzle is essentially put together.

100-piece jigsaw puzzles no longer interest my grandchildren.  Being in adolescence, they will soon be faced with more complicated puzzles—puzzles of life that will require higher skills, knowledge, and insight. How will they put these puzzles together? What will they do and how will they feel when they can’t find a piece? I hope they will not give up. I hope they will keep on searching.  I hope that they will ask for help from those who can see how the pieces correctly fit together.

If we remain in the place of familiarity, we will not grow. Perhaps that’s why, when we think that we have everything figured out in life, something unexpected happens. Life (or perhaps God) sends us a bigger and more complicated puzzle. We can’t figure out how to put it together.  We feel discouraged, disappointed, and frustrated.

That’s the way I’ve been feeling this week.  In a puzzle of life that I’ve been working on, some pieces seem to be missing. Others don’t fit into the picture that I’ve been imagining. I believe that for some of life’s puzzles, we won’t see the finished picture or understand how all of the pieces fit together until we reach heaven. I wish that were not true—yet, that’s where faith comes in.

Like children, we can become impatient when a puzzle does not fit together in our way or according to our timetable, but God has his own timetable. Our ability to figure out the puzzle and our speed in doing so is not very important to him. What happens within us while we are working on the puzzle is more important than how fast or how well we put it together. Puzzles can be trust builders, if we choose to make them so.

In this place of confusion, I’m choosing to be content that God, the designer of this puzzle, knows the perfect place for each piece. I’m also choosing to believe that when I see the completed puzzle, it will be more beautiful that any picture that I could have imagined.

If you are stuck in confusion, disappointment, or anger because a puzzle in your life is not fitting together in the time or way that you’ve been wanting it to, I hope that you will choose to make your puzzle a trust-builder. I hope that you will hang on to this promise: “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Romans 8:28 ).

 

10 thoughts on “When We Can’t Put the “Puzzle” Together . . .

  1. A few weeks ago my friend RuthAnn from a small town in Western NY came to visit. This dear friend has been through a difficult, painful divorce that she never wanted. We met at a Women’s Retreat about 6 years ago, and each year grew closer in the past 2 years as her marriage unraveled, we frequently texted, and occasionally talked on the phone. I prepared and sent her care packages from time to time. When she arrived and got unpacked, she came to me with a large decorated covered can and said “Now it’s your turn to get a care package.” Her 5 year old granddaughter had helped her shop, in the can were some pretty hair elastics, some glow sticks, a pair of socks, some scrapbook stickers and a box with two puzzles, of 250 small pieces, mixed together in the same box……

    After the weekend I spent some time trying to separate the pieces of the two puzzles. The first one seemed easy, and went together quickly until I got down to the last two pieces, which were still in the box with the other puzzle. I searched and searched and found THREE pieces that looked like they belonged with the nearly finished puzzle I soon figured out which two finished the puzzle. Then I decided to to see if there was an identical piece already. Soon it was matched to a already place piece in the puzzle. Sometimes God answers our needs, not only with enough, but often with extra grace, extra love, extra friendships that we don’t expect, extra outpouring of His Spirit…..Awesome Abba!

    • Carolyn, thank you so much for sharing this experience of yours. Yes, we have an “Awesome Abba” who blesses us beyond our expectation.

  2. Moving out of familiarity…. That is my situation. For almost 87 years my sister and I lived together Last year my sister died. My brother and I picked up phone conversations more. He died the month after she did. I had to re locate to a Sr Housing apartment building, where 144 people live. Two of those residents I had known, along with their families for more than 50 years.. One 97 yr old passed away this year, the other almost 89 years had a stroke and needs to move in with her family now. Yes, I have made acquaintance with several others who live here, but it’s just NOT THE SAME. My younger sister who had lived just a couple blocks from me has now moved several miles from me and neither of us have transportation or ability to get to the other readily. Yes, it’s difficult, feeling alone in unfamiliar areas, but I’m sure there must be some ways I’m still growing, even at 86 years, learning new directions and leaning more on God and the strength only HE can give.

    • Dear Donna, Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am greatly encouraged inspired by your closing statement– ” I’m sure there must be some ways I’m still growing, even at 86 years, learning new directions and leaning more on God and the strength only HE can give”. I am confident that others readers will inspired and encouraged, too.

  3. I am an avid fan of jigsaw puzzles and was very intrigued with the analogies you brought on this subject. I’m with MaryLou on the familiarity thing. God has been challenging me on that in many areas of my life. Thanks for sharing these thoughts!
    A funny side note on puzzles for me – When I was a teen and I would work hard on a 500 piece puzzle, when I left the puzzle for awhile my dad would swipe a piece, then wait for the right time to put the last piece in himself. Of course I found that very frustrating – not having the joy of putting the last piece in myself. When, as an adult, I have been doing puzzles with family or friends, God dealt with my heart on this issue and I usually allow the other person to have the joy of finishing the puzzle. It’s amazing how obedience to God in such simple things can bring such freedom and joy!

    • Thank you for your comments, Robyn. I’m glad for the freedom and joy that you have in allowing other family or friends to “finish the puzzle”. Your faith in God and obedience to him inspires me and brings me joy.

  4. This really spoke to me today. I have been feeling more like a puzzle piece not knowing where I belong in the puzzle of life! I’ve been stuck here for months. This is a good reminder and analogy. God knows the perfect place for me! I just need trust Him, to let go and let God, and believe that when I do see the completed puzzle, it will be more beautiful than I ever imagined! Romans 8:28 has been one of those recurring scriptures thrown at me from everywhere lately. Thank you Jane. I really enjoy reading your blogs!

    • Thank you for your comment, Dawn. I appreciate your honesty and can relate to the struggle of “not knowing where I belong in the puzzle of life”. Your choice to trust God in this matter encourages me.

    • Thank you for your comment, Mary Lou. Moving out of the place of familiarity is scary for me, but God is giving me a deeper understanding of his love–love that casts out fear.

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