Several years ago we bought one of those 1000 piece puzzles. It was a painting of the animals being loaded onto the ark, It was HUGE, with lots of pieces. Well, we all started working, putting them together. Some days we would put a whole bunch of it together, and you could really begin to see the picture coming together. Other days, we would only get a piece or two put in. Some days we didn’t put anything on, we just sorted pieces. Here was grass, here was sky, here was a shadow, here was the ark, etc. Then, there were other days that we actually had to take pieces off. We would look, and as we looked really closely, the colors didn’t quite match. It looked good, but not quite right. We would have to take a piece or two off, and it seemed like we were moving backward.
It took several months (we never really have been a puzzle family. This was a one time event for us), but we finally got it done, and what a celebration. It was a beautiful picture, and I think we even tried to glue it to prove that we did it!!!
I was thinking about marriage and family life today as I was remembering that puzzle. Marriage is kind of like that. We both brought our box of pieces to the marriage. Then, we dumped them out on the table and started putting them together. Problem is, we didn’t have a specific picture to go off of. Now, understand, we had a general idea of what a Godly marriage looked like, and we understood what it meant to serve God, but what job would we have, how many kids would we have, who would scrub the toilet, and who would clean the kitchen? Where would we live? What about my baggage that I brought into the marriage, my expectations, and my ideas? What about the baggage she brought in? I had ideas of what a good husband did, and so did she. Sometimes they meshed. Sometimes they didn’t. What about as we got older. What if we got sick? Then, add in the kids. Each one of them had a box of pieces that they contributed. Each had their own personality, likes, dislikes, and in our case, they had a history that pre-dated us (in case you don’t know, our kids are adopted).
So, what do you do? Well, that’s the fun. You start working on it. You pick up one piece and try to put it with another piece and see if it works. Does my idea of a good husband match hers? Do we put the toilet paper over the top or underneath? Whose family do we visit for Christmas, or do we start our own tradition? We try one piece, and then another. Over time we find pieces that fit together. Some days are major breakthroughs. Let me give you an example. I love going to visit her family. We enjoy our time in Tennessee each year, but part of what I enjoy is I get to know Christy a little bit better from watching her family. I understand why she thinks the way she does from watching her with her family. I also understand why some things frustrate her and why she enjoys some things. One of things that seems to be unique to Knoxville is steamed sandwiches. You load up two slices of bread with LOTS of meat and cheese, then you steam it. It makes the bread soft, melts the cheese and creates a delicious sandwich. Well, by visiting her favorite places where she grew up, I learned this, and I learned how to make this kind of sandwich. On trips home, lots of pieces fit together.
Sometimes just one or two pieces fit, but we get closer to that picture of how our marriage should be. But, let’s be honest, sometimes we have to take pieces off. Sometimes my feelings don’t match with what she needs at a particular time. One of us has to take our piece off. It doesn’t fit there. We have to find another place, the right place for that piece.
But we keep working, and after 22 years, I am beginning to see some things take shape and look more like a picture. Frankly, it isn’t the picture I thought it would be, not even close, but it is the picture God had for our marriage. Plus the picture He has is better than my idea anyway. And, as we keep putting the pieces on, I look forward to continuing to see what God will do to our lives, and to our marriage to make a beautiful picture that will glorify Him