Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Puzzle Pieces

Several years ago I received a one-thousand piece puzzle as a Christmas gift. It took a couple of weeks to piece together, even with the help of my husband and then very-little kids {who, in reality, didn't help as much as they thought they were}. During the process I had the edges of the puzzle pieced together on the coffee table with all the yet-to-be-fit pieces nearby where I could see them. Sometimes I'd walk past the puzzle and stop long enough to fit one piece in its place. Other times, I'd sit cross-legged on the floor for an hour or more, analyzing the pieces, trying to determine where they fit in the big picture. When I {we} finally finished the puzzle, we could see that it looked exactly like the picture on the cover of the box: a cottage with pink, red and purple flowers blooming all around it. It was no longer a scattered, blurry mess of pieces.

Lately I've been considering that sometimes life is fragmented. I look at all the pieces of my 36.5 years and wonder how they all fit together. Sometimes I wonder how the parts of me from just one day all fit together. To go even further, when I'm being introspective, I wonder how all the parts of me make up a Christian. Just a few days ago, I told someone that anything church-y no longer appeals to me. That's true. However, most of my life has been defined by church-y expectations: attendance, dress, behavior. Breaking free from those expectations has left me feeling a bit like scattered puzzle pieces, and asking this question:

What does the Christian life look like?

The Sunday School short answer is loving God, loving others. While that's true, I need the breakdown. I need to see how body, soul and spirit work together as one instead of separately. I need to determine how a life free of Christianese lives to love God and love others. I need to see how my past, from the time of my first memory all the way to yesterday, fits together. Because, honestly, there are times I think some of those pieces will just never, ever fit in the big, beautiful picture that is supposed to be the end of my life.

Serena Woods over at Grace Is For Sinners said in a recent post, "Our past can kill our self-esteem. It kills how big we’ll dream. It reduces how hard we try. You are your story and if you try to bury it, you’ll be too busy trying to segment yourself to do anything else. Everything you do will be hollow." And my heart agrees with her words. Yet, my puzzle pieces are still scattered in a blurry mess.

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