Piecing Together the Puzzle

Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.

(Prov. 31:11-12)

My husband and I were working on a 1000-piece puzzle the other day. When completed, the puzzle is a beautiful snapshot of a sparkling turquoise stream winding through majestic snow-capped mountains. Actually, a few minutes down the road from where the photograph was taken is a little log cabin in the woods. This was the cabin in which we spent our honeymoon.

As a vacation destination, this place is beyond incredible. As a puzzle, not so much. All the pieces look the same and pieces that shouldn’t fit together do fit together. Furthermore, our daughter decided to “help” us clean the house one day by throwing handfuls of the completed portion of the puzzle into the trash can, never to be seen again.

As Dave and I were trying to fit the remaining pieces together, my frustration levels began to rise. (There’s nothing like some quality couple time spent blowing a gasket over a puzzle.) I started emitting all manner of sighs and moans and grunts and groans. My husband, who is used to my quirks, didn’t even raise an eyebrow. He merely looked at me and said, “You don’t see how far we’ve come, do you? All you see is what we have left to do.”

As soon as I heard those words, a revelation hit me like a ton of bricks. It was such a big revelation for me, that it almost rendered me speechless. And practically nothing shuts me up. Not ever. Except maybe laryngitis or duct tape, although I really couldn’t say for sure since I’ve never had laryngitis and my husband hasn’t yet tried duct tape. Anyway, here’s the revelation: Part of the reason that I get so frustrated in life is because I don’t see how far I’ve come. I only see the work that God has left to do.

I’m studying Proverbs 31 at the moment, and it sure is easy to get caught up in the deficiencies that differentiate me from the superwoman described in the passage. And yet, I’ve come so far in the last four years!

My housekeeping skills have improved. For example, I used to sometimes throw my dishes in the garbage when they got dirty. Eventually, I’d run out of dishes and so I’d trot off to the dollar store to buy new ones. It’s shocking, I know. And not something I ever thought I’d admit to my two blog readers (Hi Mom!). But don’t worry. Now, I always wash the dishes and leave them haphazardly stacked in the dish rack, easily accessible for the next time that I need them.

My cooking skills have improved. My husband and I used to eat out all the time because I detest cooking (he doesn’t like it when I cook either). Now I always make sure that there are vegetables, chicken fingers, and french fries in the freezer for when it’s my turn to make dinner. Occasionally, I’ll even venture so far as to cook a “real” meal. (I’d be much more inclined to cook if we had a dishwasher! Perhaps that’s why, despite my pleading, Dave still hasn’t bought us one.)

My ability to share my living space with my husband has definitely improved. When we were first married, Dave kept a sleeping bag beside the bed because I would always push him over the edge in my sleep. Not even the loud thud of his body hitting the floor could wake me up, although it sure woke him up real fast! Being the humble, nice guy that he is, he would just grab his pillow and spend the rest of the night crashed out on the floor. It took a while, but I eventually learned to leave him a foot or so of space.

Clearly, the adjustment to marriage was a big one for me. But slowly, I’m being transformed into the image of Christ, and into the kind of woman that God designed me to be – not a master chef or expert housekeeper, but a more selfless version of quirky little me.

Our lives are like an unfinished puzzle. It’s easy to get frustrated when you focus solely on the work that God has yet to do in you. But don’t get discouraged! 1 Corinthians 3:18 says that we “are gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like Him.” The pieces of God’s plan might not make sense at the moment, but as He puts them together, a clear picture will emerge–a picture that, with time, will only become brighter and more beautiful.

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