Saturday, November 27, 2010


Lately I have been feeling a lot like I've been trying to put a jigsaw puzzle together without the top of the box for reference. I have all these pieces, but because I can't see the big picture, I am having a very hard time figuring out what to do, where to start.

I feel the frustration level that rises from it at times. It makes me feel restless, even anxious at times. It's like I know I am supposed to be doing something, I can even narrow it down to the proverbial "puzzle" itself, but I just don't know where to start.

It isn't like the "picture" of the puzzle is obvious either, no simple picture to catch a glimpse of. It's more like some sort of abstract expressionistic painting with all kinds of shapeless colors blended together. I feel like I am sitting with all these puzzle pieces, and I can't begin to know how to link it together into whatever the puzzle's designer intended.

I love my life, but there are parts of it that feel like are out of order, as though I should be doing something different than what I am. The problem is, I don't know what I should be doing.

My family life is good. I am madly in love with my husband, and though marriage is always challenging on some level, I cannot complain. I like my marriage, I like my husband and have no complaints. Parenting is the same, my kids are far from perfect, which works out well since my parenting isn't perfect either, but I don't have any real complaints in the big picture of things, youthful irresponsibility, and childishness, but over all, life there is pretty good. The wife and mom thing, they're going OK, cannot complain.

I'm not so foolish either to think that life should be something too much bigger than that. If I never do anything in my life but love and care for my husband and kids, then I will have done plenty if I do it well, but still there is this yearning, like there is more to be done.

It isn't a dangerous longing, it's not drawing away from my God, or my family, but it's perpetual, never seems to cease. If anything, I feel like it is a longing placed in my heart by God, to be used of Him, to make an impact for His kingdom, but it just makes it all the more confusing and frustrating when I feel like I can't figure it out. It just seems like if it's His idea, there should be some direction, a glimpse at the top of the box to know what direction we're moving in. I want to know what direction I'm supposed to be moving in, but I don't know where to go.

I know the gifts God has given me. I long to use them. I long to speak and preach His word. I know God has created in me the heart of an encourager. I do my best to do that here on my blog, but honestly it feels like it falls short. The last thing I heard Him speak to me though was "write," so I write. But I still long.

At times there is hope in the longing. I believe God has placed it there, so I hope in Him for the direction to fulfill it. Other times, the longing seems to go on so long and I tiptoe around the old neighborhood of depression. Suddenly my heart gets heavy and low, and I wonder if I missed something. I wonder if I have somehow done or not done something to hinder the plan. I wonder if I've lost a few pieces of the puzzle so that the picture will never come together the way it's supposed to.

Circling depression is a difficult place to be. Emotions have too much power there. Visibility is poor. When you're in that place it's very hard to see past yourself, and the false trinity of "me, myself and I" takes precedence over the true God, the one who has the top of the puzzle box memorized, because He is the one who designed it.

I've been doing the Beth Moore bible study "Breaking Free" and the lesson this past week was about girlhood dreams. It talked about the four dreams God has placed in the heart of every little girl: (1) to be a bride; (2) to be beautiful; (3) to be fruitful; and (4) to live happily ever after.

I scored well in the bride department, and although I don't know if I would describe myself as beautiful, I am much more satisfied with myself than not, and in the last few years I have become comfortable in my own skin. I am struggling with the other two dreams though.

Fruitfulness talked about our desire for children, and about how beyond the children of the physical sense, there are children in the spiritual sense. I have in my life felt a lot like a "spiritual mom" to some. And recently I have felt some loss in that area, I do know that at least for seasons I have been effective in that sense. It is difficult to lose in that way, but I hope that it will come full circle, and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised when seeds from long ago still bear fruit many seasons later. I hope for that to happen again.

As for happily ever after, well, that's a different story. Right now happiness seems evasive. There are many circumstances in my life that are happening that I am not happy with, and since happiness is all about happenings, it can be a tough row to hoe. Thankfully I have joy in my life, which abides even when happiness eludes, but it doesn't make feeling unhappy any easier.

I feel stuck in the puzzle box right now. It isn't fun. I cannot for the life of me figure out exactly what I should be doing, where I should go next, how to put together the pieces in my hand.

Thankfully, my hope is not in the puzzle. It's not even in the puzzle "doer" (me). Thankfully the hope I have is in the Puzzle Designer, who is a Virtuoso. Every puzzle He has designed is a one of a kind masterpiece. It is a beautiful work of art, pre-designed before anyone ever opened the box. I suspect perhaps that it was the Designer Himself who hid the top of the box from me.

I don't know why He hides the top of the box, but I am certain it is for His good purpose. Maybe it's because He is more interestd in us partnering with Him in its unfolding rather than trying to run ahead and put it together the way we see fit. Maybe it's because He doesn't want us to follow our own plan for putting it together, to be set in stone about "doing the edges first," because He has a more masterful way of bringing all the pieces together.

I'm not saying it makes it any easier or less frustrating to be holding the pieces, but if I can focus on the Designer rather than the design, I know I can count on all the pieces coming together in the perfect way, in the perfect time, and when the masterpiece is unveiled, it will have been worth every moment of the process.

1 comment:

Becky Smith said...

That's such a perfect way to put it--that you feel like the top of the puzzle box is hidden sometimes.

There are definitely "Hidden Box Top" seasons in every life. Thanks for so poignantly describing your struggles and successes--your writing encouraged me today.