The perfectly imperfect puzzle: Working with what God has given you today

Written by Lisa Tyson
Published on April 20, 2021

I was laying in bed late one night, and I heard a message come in on my phone. It was from my fourteen-year-old daughter. The gist of it is that she had something to tell me but did not know how—so she wrote me a letter. 

I asked her to bring it downstairs, and we sat together late into the night talking about life, growing up, and being a teenager. She sat and watched while I read her letter. 

Without betraying the confidences she shared, the bottom line was that she was trying to take on the world’s problems all at once, and it wasn’t working out for her. When she looked around, she saw all that everyone around her “seemed to be,” and it reminded her of what she thought she “wasn’t.” 

The what-ifs of what is to come were eclipsing the light on what is now. 

I explained to her that what she was feeling was, first of all, completely normal. And more, what she was feeling was not unique to age fourteen. 

Her almost forty-eight-year-old mother feels the exact same way some days. 

The theme of perfectly imperfect resonates so deeply with me. 

God gives us what we need for right now

And then I told her about the puzzle. 

I reminded her about how much she loved to work on jigsaw puzzles when she was younger. “Fancy Nancy” was her favorite. Who doesn’t love “Fancy Nancy”?! 

I reminded her about our process. First, we separated the pieces into two piles: edge and inside. Then we found the corners. Next, we put together the frame. Finally, one piece at a time, we would use trial and error and all the picture clues we had to put each piece in place. 

The whole time, we kept the picture in front of us so we knew what it was supposed to look like when it was finished. 

Growing up is kind of like working on a puzzle. Except the only one who knows what the final picture looks like is God. 

We have our corners and outside edge that anchor us. God gives us the frame when he forms us with his hand and breathes his life into us when we are born. Then the rest of the pieces are just “there,” and we have no idea what the finished puzzle looks like! 

God gives us the pieces. We put them together as we live our lives. 

Sometimes he shows us what piece comes next. Sometimes he doesn’t. But what he always does is give us what we need for the pieces we are working on right now. 

We can’t just grab a piece from the pile. We will never find out where it fits! 

The right piece at the right time

We talked about the pieces that are already set in her puzzle—this is her past. Then we talked about the pieces she has in front of her right now: She has a great group of friends. She sings on the worship team at church. She coaches young gymnasts. She has her first boyfriend. She loves art. She is doing great in school. 

She has some amazing pieces to her puzzle right now! 

The problem is that the Enemy comes in and tries to take the pieces. He tells her that her friends aren’t really her friends. He says she looks funny when she sings in front of people. He tries to weaken her confidence in her coaching abilities because she is so young. He says her boyfriend is going to dump her for someone more ______ than she is, and that she isn’t smart enough to keep up with her advanced classes in high school. 

The Enemy takes no prisoners when he tries to get in your head and take your puzzle pieces. 

At this point, she has a choice. Is she going to keep the pieces she knows God has given her right now or is she going to allow Satan to take those pieces away? 

If she allows him to steal her pieces, the puzzle does not make sense because she has stepped away from what God has for her. She cannot fill her puzzle with someone else’s pieces either because they will never fit in her puzzle. And, she cannot just go and grab a piece out of the pile—it’s not time for those yet. 

I explained to her that God gives her the perfect pieces for where he has placed her right now. Her job is to trust the Puzzle Maker. She does not need the whole picture if she truly trusts the Puzzle Maker. 

Her puzzle on earth started when she took her first breath, and the last piece will fit into place when she sees Jesus face-to-face. 

God will carry his good work to completion

Sometimes the pieces don’t make sense, and that is OK. Sometimes God takes pieces from her and saves them for later. Sometimes the pieces go together easily. Other times, not so much. 

She still just has one job: work with the pieces God has given her right now. 

It was a precious time late into the night with my precious girl. I love that I was able to share a tangible example of what Philippians 1:6 looks like, that I am “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (NIV). 

He is not finished with our puzzles yet.

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Lisa Tyson

My name is Lisa Tyson. I am a Baylor graduate, have been married to the only man I have ever loved for the past 24 years, and we have 3 perfectly imperfect children — 20 (rising Jr. at Texas Tech), 17 (rising Senior), and 12 (rising 7th grader). Our oldest two are boys and the youngest is a sweet and spicy girl. I run my own practice as an Educational Diagnostician working with school districts to identify and serve their bilingual students while my husband works in the Operations Department for our church. I speak Spanish fluency and I love to read and scrapbook. One of my many life verses is, “She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future” (Proverbs 31:25). I am far from an Insta-mazing wife and mom — we eat the same leftovers over and over, I forget every picture day, and I had to buy my middle child new socks and underwear when I packed all of his and sent them to college with his brother (in an effort to not forget anything). But one thing I do well is this: I remember that the Lord has lavished us with His grace and nothing that touches our family is by accident. So we press on and push through knowing that He has always been faithful — no matter what.

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