Friday afternoon: I arrive at the Mennonite Fellowship Building located behind the church, beside the creek. Laughter. I turn my head. Women are fitting the corners of a puzzle together with other pieces. This jigsaw puzzle has no chance of lasting the entire weekend!
Aromas drift in from the kitchen.
I am Baptist, but these women welcome me to retreat with them. A 20-minute drive from my home. A gift I am giving myself. A place to think, laugh, play, pray with other believing women.
Saturday: Topic for the entire weekend—fruits of the Spirit.
I was asked to give my testimony. My pleasure to tell how the girl in me came to Jesus, grew up and clung to Jesus, in spite of my many mess-ups. The most painful pieces of my story may be the most important parts.
I have not always known that tidbit. And I’ll probably forget it by tomorrow, but I know it right this minute. Feels powerful!
After lunch, I check on the puzzle. The border, done. A woman says, “Yeah, that fits!”
Love it when things fit together, don’t you? Love it when I fit in. Maybe each of us is a puzzle piece. Colorful and strangely shaped.
Puzzle pieces, scattered beyond the border. All pieces will eventually fit. I notice the red cardinal coming together. Women hold pieces and turn them to see what fits where.
I am a puzzle piece, for sure: sometimes I fit easily, sometimes I don’t fit at all.
No shame in it. I may even lose a piece. Some pieces of my life are over, gone, finis. Just memories left. We suffer and go onward.
I recall how my mother and I use to puzzle together. She, much better than I at puzzling with shapes. And what fun to hear her squeal over finding a piece that was an exact fit.
Here, women are quick to listen and relate. They puzzle, too, trying to figure out their own lives. From what I hear, most of us conclude that God has always had a plan for us. We just need to surrender and lean in to Him. Only then can He help things fit right.
And what a good feeling when the pieces fit together.
I look around and try to memorize everything I see—the colors, the faces, the smiles, the fruit, the love in the room.
When someone shares with me one on one, I identify with the feeling, though my experiences are different. Suffering is something I quickly connect with. I know about bearing pain, having no control.
A van full of women leave to go to Blanchard Springs Caverns. I hear later how they blew the guide away by singing Amazing Grace. What joy in the voice of the one telling the story. Acoustics in the caverns. God, even underground.
Puzzle. It’s making sense and growing. Everything, working together.
Usually there’s a struggle in my puzzling before I turn loose of my way and let God work in me. Does that resonate with anybody?
I suppose it’s just hard to give up the control. Hey, maybe that’s bigger than the actual suffering! Another piece of my puzzle.
And when did the jigsaw puzzle come together? I remember the women giving a shout of victory, but I’m lost on when it happened. Maybe before the supper meal.
Evening, another gives her testimony and relates it to the fruit of the Spirit. Beautiful how she remembers jokes and gives them as gifts to whomever has ears. She brightens as she tells them. Her testimony carries pain, but she tells us how God now uses her. Nothing wasted.
Each of us carries a story.
We pray for one another. Pure love. Feels like the grand finale! But no, more goodness to come—candlelight and songs.
Sunday morning. A vulnerable testimony. Communion. Shared brokenness. Washing of one another’s hands. Jesus Christ. Gratitude.
We close the weekend with one body, one breath, one love.
The moment is weightless.
P.S. May God bless you as you Share this blog. So many people in our lives are dealing with the puzzles, wishing and wanting their pieces to fit together.
Photo of jigsaw puzzle taken by Becky Wegner at Bethel Springs Mennonite Fellowship Building, Culp, Arkansas, October 2018.