On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Monday, July 5, 2010

Peace in Puzzles

I've stopped being frustrated with my loblolly pines and have decided to put them to good use. Two loads of laundry, one personal and one business (shop towels) can be hung neatly in the summer sun to dry in a third of the time, eliminating heat from the dryer in the 83 degree house despite the AC, all compliments of the 125 feet of line strung among my pines.

Life is going to give us lemons, it's an inevitability. The issue becomes not how to eliminate them but how to manage those lemons. Instead of perceiving their sourness as something to begrudge, it behooves us to uncover the opportunities they might present to us. Will we let the lemons sour us in like kind or will we rise to the occasion and uncover a mystery about them? We might get angry about the way a lemon burns an open wound but we could also be glad it is a natural astringent, killing the bacteria and protecting us from infection.

This quest for peace when life is a puzzle, isn't easy. It requires staying tuned in to the bigger picture while we fuss over the infinite, sometimes microscopic details that become the compilation of the grand design. It demands that we put our whole selves: our desires, our passions, our grief, our pain, our suffering, our love, our joy and our hope, into something other than ourselves. Without a surrendering of all that we are to this puzzling life, we will never find peace in the grand design, we will never look at our mountain of lemons and see a refreshing glass of lemonade on a hot summer's day.

The other difficult lesson on this journey for peace despite the pain, is patience. A beautiful quilt is never finished in short order. The patterns are painstakingly fussed over, the pieces precision cut and sewn together, the quilting done stitch by stitch for hours on end.

thanks Bren, still quilting

After all the labor and love, a finished quilt might still be a ruined quilt. If the process of choosing the fabric: prints, layout, and colors, was not done with patience, if the bigger picture of the finished design was not considered in this process, it will be for naught. The quilt will be a garish blur of mottled colors and shapes, making the viewer nauseated and dizzy. All for the want of patience and an understanding of the grand design.

Some days I just want to scream, I want to gnash my teeth, I want to punch walls and break things.  I want to do something physical because inside, I hurt so intensely that words seem ridiculously empty in my attempt to say it.  "GOD!  This life hurts!"   I did all the right things, I was a "good girl" that obeyed and respected and strove for the straight and narrow when I was often surrounded by others that didn't give a rip about right and wrong.  I looked up at the wondrous cross and said to myself that I wouldn't let the blood of Christ be shed in vain for me.  I vowed that every step I took on this earth would be for His glory.  And yet I met the face of pain.  All those prosperity teachings and Jabez prayers and ten-fold returns for my faithful tithing?  Boy howdy, how I want to punch the crap out of all that nonsense!  I just want to make it through another day without crying!  I want to go to sleep at night knowing I'm loved more than I'm hated.  I want the fruits of the Spirit to be poured out on me with the same measure I pour them out on others.  I've had to make peace with the fact that what I want in this life, matters little.

I speak to my readers, my friends, my family. If you are caught up in your pain, if peace is miles away from your grasp, if the puzzle you're trying to assemble seems impossible, then perhaps you have forgotten to look at the complete picture. All the pieces fit together, it just might not be in the way you want it to. It might not even create the picture you think you're working on. Instead of fighting against the inevitable, instead of throwing lemons in anger, pain and despair, find the missed opportunities, dig deeper inside yourself and look harder at the pieces in your hand to find your peace. I'm right with you, sorting through my own pile of pieces, desperately clinging to the peace I've finally found, laughing in joy and sipping my half-full glass of lemonade. 

There can be peace in these puzzles, if only you will look for it. I love you.


GB's Mom said...

My puzzle may be changing. Glad you are doing well.

Debora said...

I sure wish I could meet you in person, Integrity Singer. You're right, of course. Thank you for sharing. Today I wallowed a little bit, like you shared a while ago...I just wanted to be a mommy. But this isn't what I wanted. However, God has His ways, and they are higher than mine. And I thank Him for it!

I can't wait to see the beautiful picture He's painting...quilting. :o)

Integrity Singer said...

trying to comment on my own blog - comments are being rejected by blogspot - error. ugh

Kelly said...

Thank you for your encouragement in this post. I definitely need it right now. Peace...oh for some peace.

Little Wonder said...

Beatifully written, thank you.

Heather said...

Thank you so much for this post - It reflects the pain I've been feeling frequently, and the peace I've been struggling to find.

I wish I could say I'll be all better now, but realistically I will continue to struggle and need the reminders of my friends (bloggy and IRL) to get to the other end of this rocky, convoluted path.

Bren said...

Your quilting is GORGEOUS!!! Keep at it, please don't stop. There is love there.