Puzzling

A couple of weeks ago I was working on a puzzle in our homeschool room while my three oldest were washing and drying dishes in the kitchen. I could overhear them and based on the amount of bickering that was going on, I knew it wouldn’t be long before one of them came to me to complain.

I wasn’t wrong.

This time it was my blonde boy. He was frustrated because he felt that his siblings were being unfair to him. After all, he had unloaded the dishwasher completely by himself and now they were telling him he needed to dry all of the dishes.

It isn’t fair, Mom!

I listened to his complaints for a little while and then I pulled him in close for a hug. I have found in parenting that when there is angst, the thing that is most needed is to feel heard and to know that you are loved. And so, we started there.

I agreed with him that the situation did seem unfair and that I understood why he might be upset. I could feel his body beginning to calm.

But then I told him that he needed to understand that he wasn’t aware of everything pertinent to this situation. He didn’t know that I had asked his sister to do laundry or that his brother had taken the dog for a walk. I also admitted to my son that I don’t see everything either and while his Dad and I do our best to make chores equitable, we don’t always get it right. I often forget who last took the dog out or whose turn it is to mop the floors.

My boy responded with grace. Side note: I have watched this happen over and over again in my parenting. When I respond out of frustration (don’t you children know that I’m doing the best that I can?!!!), it usually results in more angst rather than less. But when I respond in humility, admitting my own faults, but also reminding them of their own culpability, a beautiful thing happens. Grace.

He looked at the puzzle on the table behind me and then said something rather profound. It’s kind of like the puzzle, isn’t it? If you don’t have all of the pieces, you can’t see the whole picture. You have to have patience and wait for the pieces to be joined together. 

Wow.

Yes. How often do we cry unfair when we don’t have all of the pieces? We only see a small portion of very large picture, yet we think we know exactly what it’s supposed to look like.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we ALL do this. It’s our human condition and in some ways, we have to do this. We are doing the best with what we have and it’s our responsibility to make decisions and move forward. But I pray for all of us that we would have the humility to understand that if we are in the middle of a challenging situation, we likely do not see all of the pieces. And if we only look at our pieces and make a judgment on the whole, we are likely going to be wrong in some ways.

The more pieces there are to the puzzle, the more opportunities there are for us to be wrong.

The more complex the problem is, the more patient and gracious we need to be.

We don’t see the whole picture, so we need to look to the One who does. Just like we look at a puzzle box to see the completed picture, we need to look at God’s Word to see the picture he has laid out for us. Will this give us answers as to when the virus will end? No, but it does give us the hope we need to endure. Will it tell us how a difficult situation will be resolved? No, but it will give us the wisdom and humility we need to walk forward in love and grace.

Trust in the Lord, with ALL your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In ALL your ways, acknowledge him and he will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5,6

May we all admit that we only see a small part of the picture and have the humility to trust God to fill in the pieces in His time and in His way!

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