A Piece At A Time
Updated: Jan 2, 2021
About a month ago, I had the opportunity to go on a personal retreat to Cove Crest, a Catholic camp owned by Lifeteen in Tiger, Georgia. My previous employers had a connection with the Lifeteen office, and got me the hook up. I am still SO grateful for the kindness and generosity that I experienced. Shout out to Lifeteen for all the wonderful work they do for the Kingdom of God.
I went on a 4 day personal retreat, and it was absolutely amazing. The staff at Cove Crest set me up in a beautiful cabin tucked away in the woods at the edge of their property.
It was a silentish retreat. . . even when I'm alone I cannot help but talk aloud to God. I did minimal planning and sought to have my day guided by the Holy Spirit. I got all my favorite foods and snacks, packed my journal, bible, and a few books, and then prepared to have some quality Father-daughter time with God.
The first night, I turned off my phone, made myself a nice dinner, drank a glass of wine, and then had a whole night ahead of me. Unsure of what to do next, I searched around the cabin. I soon found a pile of board games and puzzles, and settled on doing a puzzle for the rest of the evening. I approached the stack, and the first thing to catch my eye was a 600 piece puzzle of the world map. It was not the first puzzle in the stack, but it seemed to magnetically end up in my hands.
“Yes Lord. This is going to be legit. Watch me crush dis puzzle.” I said. The Father chuckled, “I knew you would grab that one. You want the whole world, and you know what? I want to give it to you.” I laughed aloud and said, “You want to give me the world? Bring it on.”
Turns out this puzzle was freaking hard. The exterior was like that of a normal puzzle, but the interior pieces were shaped like actual countries on a map. This made assembly more difficult, because the puzzle did not fit together nicely until the very end. Oh and do not even get me started on assembling the oceans. All the pieces looked the friggin same! What I thought would take me a couple hours ended up taking me the whole evening and the entire next day.
While working, I’d have moments where I’d be like “oh yeah slayy all day, I’m killin it!” Other moments I’d be fussy and complaining to God saying "Lord this is so dumb. I wish I didn't start this because now I have to finish this!" Then there were moments where I would have anxiety and ask the Father, “Dad, what if I get all the way to the end of the puzzle only to find there are pieces missing. What if some little kid ate the Mexico piece or something! Then I’ll have worked so hard for nothing!” To which the Father responded, “Allie, don’t worry, do the puzzle.” And I’d say “but what if...” and He’d cut me off and say “Do the puzzle.”
The whole assembly process became a fight against disappointment. I soon realized the root of all my frustrations was an underlying fear that all my efforts and works will not amount to anything. I'd come all the way out to Covecrest to get some answers and clarity on some big things I was discerning. I didn't want to waste the Father's time. I didn't want to disappoint Him by not completing the puzzle. I felt like my inability to complete the puzzle, or inability to complete the puzzle quickly, would take away from time in which the Father could bring clarity to the current issues I was facing.
As I worked on the puzzle, like my life and salvation depended upon it, I felt the Father placing His hand on my back and calling me to calm down. He stayed with me as I continued to worry away. When I finally clicked the last piece in place, I took a look at the picture I'd been working tirelessly to assemble for the last 24 hours. As I looked at the map, the Father said, "You know, I wasn't keeping track of the time. I was just happy to do the puzzle with you."
I sat there for a moment and pondered His words and our time together. I suddenly realized that the Father did not set a time for me to complete the puzzle. He did not set a standard for how I was to complete it. He was not belittling me or criticizing me as I was completing it. He was not worried about me completing. It was I who was setting standards, criticizing myself, and worrying about its completion.
This puzzle, which I eventually disassembled and put back in the box, is still in tact in my mind and heart. Often times as I go through my life and journey, I feel pressure to be something, do something, and achieve something. I'm critical of myself for not reaching goals. I am worried that I'll never amount to anything, and this precious life I've been given will be a waste. But what the Father showed me and restored in my heart through this puzzle of the world, was that He cared more about that fact that I was living in the fullness of my identity as His daughter.
We are not valuable to the Father because of what we do, but because of who we are... because we are His. In a plan of sheer goodness we were created to be fully alive and free in our identity as His children. Society and culture says that we have to be certain things and do certain things to be worthy. The Father says that we don't have to be anything except who we truly are, and the only thing we have to do is have the courage to open our heart to the Father and allow Him to be Father our whole life and story.
John Paul II once said that the greatest evil of original sin was the abolishment of Father. The enemy sought to severe the attachment between God and His children, and seeks to keep that relationship severed in all his evil ways and attacks. A lot of times, I live my life in a similar way to how I assembled that puzzle. I'm second guessing the Father's goodness, doubting He has a plan for me, worrying about failing, and entertaining a vain imagination of the future. This is not the way Jesus intended us to live the new life He won for us on the cross. . . but the on way we can live that life Jesus won for us and live in the fullness of our identity as children is by tapping into Grace. That undeserved favor is the secret sauce that frees us to be the men and women God made us to be.
The enemy wants to convince us that grace is not enough. That the things of this world are too great, and that the Father really cannot provide for all we need. Scripture is a compilation of stories proving to us time and time again that we have a Father who loves us, cares for us, and fights for us. Lives of the saints are testimonies to the fact that holiness is possible in all times for all people. Worships songs are our battle cries combatting the lies of the enemy. I hope my blog is one piece of the divine puzzle God is assembling.
Most entry blog posts begin by giving an introduction and back story of the blogger. I'd love to do that, but unfortunately, my life is a rollercoaster. It changes so fast. . . I can hardly keep up! If I were to retrace my steps and tell you all the places I've been and how I got to where I am today, we'd need a full day at a coffee shop. So similar to the puzzle, we're just gonna take it a piece at a time. As I write and share my stories, I know past experiences and revelations will come up, and fill in the gaps of my life. Before starting this blog, I felt overwhelmed by having to recount all my past adventures and stories. I didn't even know where to begin.. . . But as I pray about this blog, this little ministry, I hear the words of the Father echoing in my ear. . ."Just do the puzzle."
I'm just gonna write and blog, and anyone who feels so called, inclined, or curious can journey with me, as I share the picture the Father is revealing to me a piece at a time. I'm going to jump around. Get ready. I might be working on one corner of the puzzle, and then out of nowhere start on another for no apparent reason. This blog is not dictated by what makes sense chronologically, or maybe even logically. This blog is a compilation of stories and sagas, in which God is revealing his grace and allowing me to experience his grace. . .one piece at a time. :)
P.S. I will make spelling mistakes. Sorry not sorry. God asks me to be His kid, not His spelling B champ :P
Grace is Enough.