Thursday, May 19, 2016

One piece

My dad loves jigsaw puzzles. I didn't know this about him until a handful of years ago on vacation. Our family spends a week in a cabin on Lake Mille Lacs every summer, and this particular year, my dad found a cabinet full of games and puzzles and decided that we needed to put one of the puzzles together. And it's become a tradition--every year we complete a puzzle. (I use "we" pretty loosely. This photo is a little more accurate--it's pretty much just my dad and brother).

While jigsaw puzzles aren't necessarily on my list of relaxing vacation activities, I do find them fascinating. I love that I can reach into a box of puzzle pieces and pull one out and (without looking at the picture on the box) that one piece tells me absolutely nothing about what the final product is going to look like. It might be blue. I could guess that it's part of the sky or water or maybe a pick-up truck or someone's shirt. But I would only be guessing. The only thing that one piece tells me is that 1/1000th of that puzzle is blue.

One of the biggest gifts God gave me when Hannah died was the overwhelming peace and understanding that we were only seeing the tiniest part of a much bigger picture, and that He was the only one who could see the whole thing. I can actually picture where I was sitting in my midwife's office when this happened. We had found out Hannah was no longer alive, and we were scheduling induction for the next morning. We were devastated. Nothing was happening the way we thought it would. But in our grief, God was saying, "I know this doesn't make sense. But trust me."

A friend was in the hospital after Hannah was born and we got to talking about this idea that we all have a list of questions to ask God when we get to heaven. Why do bad things happen? Why do babies die? We want answers. We want things to make sense in our finite, limited human brains. And my friend said, "I think we're going to get to heaven, be face-to-face with our Creator and think, 'Well. I feel like I had something to ask you. But I don't think I do anymore.'" Because in that moment, everything will make sense. We will finally be seeing the whole picture. The completed puzzle. We will see all of our pieces and where they all fit together. Our questions will be answered before they're even asked.

Four and a half years later, my "Hannah died" puzzle piece isn't all alone anymore. It is surrounded by a few more pieces and sometimes I can tell they're starting to take shape. It's as if my single blue puzzle piece from earlier is now surrounded by other blue pieces and I can tell it's going to be a sailboat. The whole sailboat isn't put together yet, and I certainly don't know where the sailboat fits into the rest of the picture, but it's getting there.

And that's what grief looks like right now. I still hate that that piece has to be there, but my puzzle wouldn't be complete without it. And I'm called to trust the One who holds the rest of the pieces and knows where they all belong.

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