Puzzles II: Pieces
Throughout the last year of this pandemic, even more so in the early stages, people were stuck in their homes and needed to find ways to pass the time. Many turned to an old stand-by: jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles have long been a mainstay at the shore for vacationers as a way to get through rainy days when the beaches and boardwalks were not available – or at least, wouldn’t be very pleasant. Puzzles can be worked on alone or in groups, and while challenging can give a real sense of accomplishment when the end is reached, the last piece snapped into place and the image is complete.
In a recent series on his daily leadership vlog, Darren Hardy drew parallels between various strategies to address the challenges of puzzles as also being effective ways to conquer the difficulties of succeeding at business, and indeed at life. Could these same themes also apply to succeeding at marriage? Can we find scripture to back up this theory?
The border is set! Now, how do we approach putting together all the pieces that make up your marriage? Our lives are complex; this isn’t any beginner-level puzzle. There are tons of pieces, and many, many colors of varying hue and saturation. The pieces themselves are intricate with lots of tabs and slots. It can be overwhelming, especially at the beginning to look at the myriad choices and possibilities and make sense of it all.
Think of a marriage relationship: there are six types of intimacy (as set forth by the DeLorenzos of the ONEextraordinary Marriage podcast). Physical, spiritual, emotional, financial, recreational, and sexual. We are living in the world (even as we strive to not be of it) so we deal with things like work, church, media, hobbies, social groups. Some of us have kids and then add raising them to the mix. We deal with discipline and instruction, school, sports and extracurricular activities, THEIR social groups. At any given time all these things may need the attention of one or both spouses, but trying to deal with them all at once is a sure strategy for disaster. At any given time, ONE of these issues is probably the most pressing and dealing with it until it is “solved” will make dealing with the next issue easier. Pick one piece of the puzzle, and find where it fits. Or pick one void in the incomplete picture, and search the available solutions until you find the one.
Remember Martha, running around her house trying to deal with all the things required to host Jesus at her house. Exasperated, frustrated - and missing out on experiencing Jesus’ presence like Mary was doing - she addressed Jesus not to be with him, but to get him to scold her sister! The lord replies (in Luke 10:41-42)
Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing.Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.
This story is also a great reminder that whatever puzzle piece we are working on, it is critical we keep God at the center of our problem solving efforts. In our human frailty we have unlimited potential to make matters worse when we rely on our own cleverness, our own strength. We can always choose to take the winding, more difficult road to any destination. Proverbs 3:6 admonishes though
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
Rely on God. Keep his promises - and his Son - first and foremost in your heart as you and your spouse tackle the manifold issues in your life. As you communicate (regularly) identify the area that is most requiring attention at the moment, for there are always issues requiring your attention. Work on that issue, together, until it is dealt with. Then you can address the next puzzle piece with similar diligence and care, and work towards a picture - a marriage - that honors God and shows his love for creation to the world.