Staring At The Puzzle: Thoughts From Further Down the Valley

I am still staring at the puzzle pieces.

And I really don't enjoy puzzles much either.

Yeah, I have not moved very far in the past few weeks.  I think this is pretty common for widows and widowers.  For me, as a single parent and pastor, I still have to get moving, there are many things to be done.  But also, there are many details after the death of a loved one that surprise you.

Closing accounts and changing names on bills is part of it.  Learning what all your loved one was doing that now falls to you can be overwhelming at times.  Being mom and dad - holy cow!  I just did not know.  And of course there are always new “firsts” that you have to go through, things you never expected would be hard.

During our vacation there is a “junk store” we always visit.  I have been remodeling our front porch - more like redecorating so thought that would be a good place.  Even with my kids, it was “off.”  Another reminder Heather was not there.  There is not really any comfort to be given.  You just have to live through it.

This week’s 1 Minute Meditation featured a Bible verse that really got my attention.  It isn’t usually a “life verse” for folks and I don’t recall seeing it printed on any bookstore items. It comes from Psalm 102:7 and the writer nails the feeling: “I lie awake, and am like a sparrow alone on the housetop.”  Sometimes, in the grieving THIS IS ALL a person can do.

So I am staring at those puzzle pieces that make up my life right now.  I wrote about this idea of the puzzle in my last blog and it is becoming an important image.  When you don’t know what the puzzle is supposed to look like (and even if you do), you have to find the border pieces.  I am not really STARING...I am LOOKING; I am looking for the pieces that make up the border of my life now.

It is scary to admit but I can tell some things have changed.  Some of my “borders” are missing.  Some are here I can see and there are some I do not recognize yet. My faith in Jesus Christ is one of those pieces I know.  I recognize it even though it is a bit different.  I am still a parent of two amazing and courageous young people.  But these pieces are different too.  The one piece not in my puzzle is husband.  That is a hard one to admit because I have been looking for that one so hard but it is the step of acceptance of grieving a spouse - that piece is gone.

There are other pieces that are not borders, yet but may become one someday.  One of my friends (thankfully I still have those border pieces too) pointed out the puzzle may not even be a square or rectangle - this makes it even more a challenge (and you don’t want to take the analogy too far).  

One of the most important parts of this journey through the valley of suck is seeing the reality of the Scriptures as a larger whole. It is a whole which incorporates the entire human experience into God’s revelation.  Just like you can’t skip over Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday, we spend some of our time “like a sparrow alone.”  We NEED to be there and live it before we can really know that “God will turn to the prayer of the impoverished; he won’t despise their prayers” (102:17).

All our puzzles are unique even though they share similarities.  When you don’t have the picture, as many know, it is going to take longer and our society; our world has little patience for giving people time.  No matter how sure someone may have been about their puzzle and you may have been about their puzzle, life has a way throwing it all up for grabs.  And that is when God steps in: slowly and gently, and helps us look at the pieces we now have; not what we wish we had.

Force pieces into place and all you do is break the pieces.  Learn the sparrow's lesson; to lie
awake and to be alone on the housetop.  Look intently and listen just as intently and God will speak and in God’s timing - piece by piece - a new picture will emerge.  This is how God works ALL things to his glory. Those words are not meant when the valley of suck is darkest. They are meant for the days when we can start to sort out the pieces.

Image used with permission: and


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