2 Secrets For When You’re In The Messy Middle

My friends’ four-year-old son has something of a reputation for being an expert with jigsaws. He regularly completes complex, 300 piece puzzles with minimal help from his Mum or Dad. It’s amazing that tiny fingers can be so adept at putting a fragmented picture back together again.

I think about this little boy and his incredible gift, and I wonder if he is expressing something of God’s heart for us.

Doesn’t life sometimes feel like one of those huge jigsaw puzzles? We can’t see how all it’s all going to come together. There are some definite holes where pieces are missing. It seems broken, messy and chaotic.

How do we survive then, when everything seems to be in pieces? How can we work towards wholeness; how can we complete the picture of who we are called to be?

Secret #1: Find Your Corner Pieces

When you’re putting a jigsaw together, the best approach is to find the corner pieces first and put them in the right place. They serve as an anchor to build everything else around.

So it got me thinking, what are those corner pieces? What are the foundational things we need to put in place first? What should we orient everything else around?

I’ll be honest here, I wanted to try and come up with four clever words that would relate to the four corners of a jigsaw puzzle, but all I kept coming back to was love.

I want the four corners of my puzzle, the four compass points of my life, to look like love.

We are so loved by God and his love is unconditional. He doesn’t love us more when we’re ‘good’ and less when we’ve made a mess of things. He doesn’t like us better when we’re happy and positive and not so much when we’re sulky or sad. The things in life that haven’t worked out as we had hoped aren’t evidence to show that God doesn’t care.

I don’t know all the answers. Life and God are mysteries that I can’t figure out. But I do know that God is love and that his love is calling us back home to himself.

When we are rooted and grounded in God’s love, we are free to love ourselves and others.

It has brought me a great deal of freedom to recognise that it’s ok to be me. It’s ok to like the things I like, to pursue the things I’m good at, to say no to things I don’t want to do. It’s ok to be a person with my history, family background, personality and temperament.

Loving and accepting ourselves means that we don’t have to hustle or compare or manipulate to feel like we belong. We are free to love others without an agenda.

Secret #2: Remember what the big picture looks like

A key strategy for completing a jigsaw puzzle is to keep looking back at the box to check what the picture looks like. Does it match up with what you’re creating? Are the pieces in the right place? Have you gone wrong anywhere?

I wish I had a picture to show me exactly what my life is supposed to look like!

But even though we might not know all the details, we do know what wholeness looks like.

We do know that it looks like peace and joy. It looks like thriving and flourishing. It looks like feeling at home in your own skin and bringing your gifts to serve the world.

Wholeness looks like living in ways that nourish you. It looks like owning your own story and being kind to yourself. It looks like caring for your mind, body and emotions. It looks like rest and encouragement and healing.

Wholeness looks like belonging to yourself and belonging to your community. It looks like service and kindness and love. It looks like holding onto hope for each other in the dark days and celebrating with each other in the sunshine.

So we keep coming back to the big picture. When we’re not sure what to do or which way to turn, we ask ourselves: what will lead me towards wholeness? What will lead me towards love? What will help me look like Jesus?

And in the picture of our lives there will always be room for the whole of who we are. There is room for our struggles and doubts; our fear and our pain; our suffering and our grief. Not one part of the puzzle is lost or deemed unfit to belong.

All these pieces are held in the tender hands of God as he lovingly puts us back together to reflect his image as we were always designed to.





Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash