Posted by: minnow | October 27, 2008

Guest Blog by Shelby

It is with great pleasure that I invite you to read this guest post by a friend of mine.  She is an amazing testimony that God has not given up on humankind because He continues to breathe life into people who, like Shelby, are willing to be iron sharpened and sharpening.  So with no further delay…

I have always viewed my life as a puzzle. If I could just figure each piece out, then I could nudge it into place and find…aaahhhh – completeness. I’ve felt this sense of “not quite thereness” from the time of my youth; especially walking home from school on that treasured “last day” before summer vacation. Forget sugar-plums — I had visions of self-improvement dancing in my head. I vowed to return, next fall, a “brand new me.” As I’ve aged, that acute desire for wholeness, inflamed by a nagging notion of always being just shy of perfection, hasn’t always plagued me. But it has never left.

In my social circles, I often hear an easy answer to this misfit feeling. “You need Jesus.” But, here’s the kicker – I have accepted Christ as my personal savior. But the puzzle remains. In fact, if I were to honestly look at how I’ve digested my many years of Biblical study, I would say that I’ve simply sanctified the puzzle pieces. Even so, I love Jesus. Faith has become inseparable from my being, but all these years of religious devotion haven’t resonated the contented ker-chunk of pieces dropping into place.

I’ve especially felt the pang of my puzzle over the last few years. During this time, Minnowspeaks has been a stalwart companion. We’ve met regularly to encourage one another along our spiritual journeys. Our individual search for purpose has taken us, side-by-side, off-road to the hinterlands of our souls. I’m so thankful to God for Minnow.

So, when my search for wholeness circled-back to this puzzle idea, I went to Minnow. Well, no, actually, I bribed her. With a free pass to a local health spa in hand, I asked Minnow to soak with me in the 104 degree bliss of a whirling hot-tub (I forgot to mention that we were going to try to figure out the meaning of my life.)

As we soaked in the silky warmth of a steamy whirlpool, I asked Minnow, “What do you think I need?”

She was reluctant to answer. Minnow’s integrity often keeps her from supervening other people’s journeys with her own ideas of how things should be.

“No,” I reassured her with a ready look. “I’m asking.” I gave an honest, pointed look. “What do you think I need?”

“Well, first,” she started, “I think you are too hard on yourself.” “And,” she paused to gather a breath of strength, “the puzzle is already finished.” She shrugged her shoulders at the obviousness of this answer. “There are no pieces missing.”

My gaze fell to the rippling water as I tried to absorb this new thought. It felt true in my head, like the hot, healing, water felt true to my sore back. But, I couldn’t quite swallow it into my heart.

Minnow continued. “There is no puzzle. It’s already there; it’s already…”

Suddenly, Minnow swallowed her words with a halted choke. Tears boiled up in her eyes. Her hand patted her heart. An overwhelmed, compassionate sigh of “Ohhh” welled-up from deep within.

“I see you holding a puzzle,” Minnow whispered. Her eyes were closed, but the intensity of the vision flowed from her face. “You’re holding it; the pieces are all put together, but…”

Something was wrong. I could see it in Minnow’s confused squint. Her palms opened, floating just above the bubbly bath, as if asking for more explanation.

“But it’s all black and white. There’s no color.”

Ker-chunk. I nodded in surrendered agreement. Yes, I thought, that’s it. That’s how I feel. No color; no life; a monochromatic melancholy.

We sat quietly for a few minutes. Hidden truths – especially the hard kind — seem to automatically earn respect when revealed. I want to pay attention. Knowing truth, even if it hurts, somehow heals. I instinctively sense that this hurt is far less worse than the continued taunt of an ignorant void. So I seek the truth. I welcome its burn. And I wait, I hope, for something better to cool my blistered mind.

Everything around us dulled into a distant silence. I could hear only the whir of the hot tub jets and see the obvious effect on Minnow of this word rolling out from Heaven.

“Then I see a bigger puzzle.” Minnow perked up. ““The puzzle is huge!” she exclaimed with wide arms. “Like a landscape. It’s so big that you are standing in the middle of it. But you haven’t become smaller.” Her palms rushed together, shrinking space. “No, you’re not smaller.” Her eyes opened wide. “The puzzle is bigger.”

“And I see God pouring color, like paint, down upon your head,” Minnow continued. “God’s pouring the color on you, and it is dripping down; spreading out onto the puzzle.”

In my own mind, I could see a liquid rainbow draping down my body, like a sash with melting edges drizzling onto the puzzle pieces. Color filled the cracks. Red blended within blue, and yellow lit up forested shades of green. It was all one, bright glorious puddle of life. Like fingerpaints, I thought in my mind. But I dared not interrupt Minnow with my comments.

“Like…” Minnow paused, “Do you remember fingerpaints?” she asked.

I smiled and nodded with a giggle.

“The thing about fingerpaints is that it’s o.k. for them to be –”

“Messy!” we both exclaimed in unison with overflowing laughter. I slapped the water in sheer happiness.

“Yeah,” Minnow continued. “And I see you playing over the puzzle. You’re sliding in the paint, like a slip-and-slide. You’re spreading the paint around and finding places in the puzzle that you’ve never discovered before!”

This was getting fun! I felt downright giddy, like a little kid again.

After a few more fits of laugher, the evanescent glee of encouraging words subsided into an absolute knowing of God’s true love. We sat quietly, shoulder-deep in hot water, letting the fluid afterglow seep into our souls.

“It’s not that you’ve been wrong to feel incomplete,” Minnow clarified. “You really have felt something missing. But, it’s not because the puzzle was incomplete. There is no puzzle. You are already whole. It’s just that there are parts of you which you haven’t discovered yet. That’s the missing. That’s the discontent.”

“Yeah,” I whispered as I reconciled all those years of tired trying with God’s message of completeness.

“There is so much more of you to discover,” Minnow echoed softly.

“Hmmmm,” I surrendered and sank deeper into the water.

“And!” I shot up with a pointed finger in the air. “It’s going to be fun!”

“And colorful!” Minnow shouted.

“And a blast!” I punched the wet air.

We erupted in giggles all over again.

“God is so good,” I said, shaking my head in awe.

Since that day in the hot tub, I still wonder things like, What will that color look like? What parts of the puzzle are yet to be found? How messy will God let this beautiful, funky canvas called “life” get?

To find out with me, visit my new blog: radicallyauthentic.wordpress.com.

Shelby

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