At one time it was one of my son’s desires to grow up and become a puzzle maker…he first dreamed of this profession when he was younger and spent hours working puzzles beside an older gentleman who lived in the nursing home where his great- grandmother also lived.

Throughout the years they grew a bond, he and the puzzle maker.
They never really spoke much but the puzzles always did.

This man had a way of working puzzles and my youngest son did too.

The puzzle maker had a fascinating way of separating the puzzle pieces by colors and was very methodical in his process.
I later learned that he served years in the military.
This came at no surprise as his puzzle skills reflected his precision.

I remember the day my father in law told my son that the puzzle maker had died.
They both had tears in their eyes for a friend they’d lost and for my son, the camaraderie he’d miss.

Although he had lost his puzzle mentor he continued spending hours putting them together.
We had a puzzle out on our table most of the time, they even lined the inside of his closet ….collecting them along the way.
Each puzzle told a story of a different season.

The harder the puzzle the more intriguing it was.

And yet no one gets quite used to the struggle of putting them together to discover-a missing piece.

My son was given this Star Wars puzzle only two days ago for Christmas and I could tell he wanted to do it alone.

It’s funny how times change.

We just finished one together when this one arrived. 

During the holidays our family likes to gather around a table with pieces spread and spend hours putting them together… there’s something therapeutic about fitting pieces  and filling empty spaces.

But things change…

Our kids do too, they transition from learning from you, to sitting beside you to finally working independently and I am discovering the beauty that lays in all of these stages of life.

As he was determined to finish this puzzle within the first 24 hours of receiving it, we were surprised when he realized there was a missing piece.

It’s awful to finish a project to only discover you can’t complete it and so I expected his usual reaction as this has happened a few times before. 

Yet his response is what surprised me even more…years ago he’d hunt and hunt for a missing piece growing with frustration until he could find it, but not this time.

As he realized it wasn’t to be found with his first sweep of the house he calmly responded that he’d look in the morning.

And that was that…

It’s funny how my heart seemed more at unrest with the missing piece than his. 

I longed to have it finished…it was speaking a story of its own.

There was something about that missing piece that reflected my current life that has been feeling a little unfinished lately.

The missing piece seemed much like the plethora of vacancies in my life this year…kids who’d married and moved away, our youngest leaving for college and the hole that was missing from the death of my sweet Dad.
….all which had a way of occupying an emptiness within.

So the sight of this barren space with him calmly resting in its vacancy made me wonder why I was feeling compelled to fill it up rather than resting in it’s healing…

It’s why I like full cups rather than dry ones.
And why I prefer a full home with messy beds to one that has fresh sheets lining all its spaces.

Not only did the hollow space cause me to reflect on my own discomfort with the missing piece. It also led me to repeatedly pull out cushions, lift up chairs and couches hunting for it.
His response demonstrated just how much he’d grown while he’s been away at his first semester of college.

The past five years or so I’ve been asked many times why restoration takes so long… and have even been questioned if it should.

It’s funny how we struggle to let things age, allow processes to take place, but we do.

And just like anything worth waiting for 

—Healing takes time too…

Perhaps it’s why people give up before the healing is complete…we want to get away from the aching within and the hard processes just seem to never come to an end.

I know that’s the way I often feel…

I long for a break from the process.

I even look for a manageable escape.

And wonder if all of it is really worth it.

But as we stared at the puzzle this morning with my heart longing to find what was making things feel incomplete and him in his contentment to instead discover the beauty of the picture

-I was awakened to look past the missing piece and see the bigger picture.

We may find the piece, for I’m not done looking for it…I know it has to be somewhere in the walls of our home and leaving something undone, just isn’t settling right now for me.

But that’s how life is…

There’s times everything doesn’t work out, not all of it fits perfectly together, because sometimes life leaves us without the answers we’re looking for and leaves us with missing pieces….and we need to learn a new way of adjusting to life in the midst of some brokenness.

Because sometimes missing pieces never get found or if they do they look a little rougher around the edges than we hope for.

And there’s often times when heading into a new year brings a similar hope of finding some of our missing pieces but the truth is
-sometimes it’s just the perfect space our brokenness is needing to heal…

There’s often times when heading into a new year brings the hope of finding some of those missing pieces but truth is sometimes it’s just another season of healing our brokenness is needing….

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