Souls tend to go back to who feels like home.
I came across this quote on Pinterest the other day, and it’s stuck with me ever since.
As a college student, I’ve had to learn that home is less of a place and more of a gathering of feelings you collect throughout your life.
With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I’m reminded again and again that this isn’t a journey I traveled alone, and that praising the Lord in the good and the bad times isn’t optional.
I’ve never really liked puzzles.
Every holiday break from school my Mama and brother would always set up in the Living Room with a card table and a puzzle box displaying more pieces than were usually accounted for. It became a sort of event for them. It was always a challenge to see if they would actually finish it before break was over.
But I never really cared for puzzles.
To me a puzzle was frustrating, and the majority of the pieces looked too similar to me. Every now and then I’d find a random splotch of blue, or green, but my problem was always my inability to see the bigger picture.
I became a Christian when I was 14 years old. However, being raised in the church this always raises some confusion in people I’ve known all my life.
“But she was in my five year old Sunday School class!”
“Her dad is on the Deacon Board!”
“She excelled in Awanas as a child!”
When will we as Christians learn that it isn’t our pasts, but our futures with Christ that will define our Christian walk?
You can’t put the puzzle together if you’re only looking at the part you’ve already finished.
After I accepted Christ, I thought I was finished. My life began to look complete again. All the pieces that hadn’t made any sense before, all the moments where I had struggled and wondered what the point of everything was- all the jagged edges and twisty turns began to fall into a bigger picture.
A picture of Christ.
This thanksgiving as I look back, I’m reminded that if I was supposed to travel the road alone there would be no need for the body of Christ.
Andy Futch, my youth pastor, played such a vital role in shaping my newly found Christian walk throughout those first few years. It was only after meeting with Andy I discovered that the solo road I had been traveling wasn’t going to cut it anymore. It was that meeting where I first shared my testimony, the first of many times to come.
Our discussion showed me how similarly our struggles had shaped who we were. Our discussion let me feel connected to another Christian in a way I hadn’t before then. Our discussion is what led me to the realization I needed to be baptized again, this time as a believer and not a follower.
Another piece of the puzzle fell into place that day, accurately depicting acceptance no matter what you’ve come from.
This Thanksgiving, I’m reminded that part of being a Christian is living and learning from your mistakes and the roads and paths that brought you to Christ. It’s accountability within the body of believers.
I learned that accountability through leaders like Mama Trish, Ms. Lydia, and Ms. Beth, and a beautiful ministry called Girls Nite In, a ministry dedicated to talking about the stuff that matters, and what Christ had to say about it.
Bullying was the night’s topic, and after speaking with a few of the pioneering women of the ministry, I was allowed to be one of the speakers for the night.
To get up in front of people I loved and talk about my struggles as well as my shortfalls was unimaginably hard. But that night was monumental to the shaping of my faith, and the sharing of my story.
That night I built up a corner of my puzzle, attempting to reflect the cornerstone of my faith through openness and vulnerability.
This Thanksgiving, I’m reminded that I have people in all kinds of places, all of whom built me up into the person Christ designed me to be.
Pastor Andy gave me a statistic once that said 80% of Christians will fall away from the church and their walks with Christ throughout their time at college.
With this thought in mind, the moment I stepped out of Chester onto Valdosta State’s campus, I was determined to get plugged in somewhere and grow my faith.
I wound up getting so much more than I expected through the help of two people who have guided me to this day.
It wasn’t, and still isn’t an easy puzzle to figure out. Usually I’m messing it up one way or another, but remarkably these two have always managed to forgive and help me put the pieces back together.
If we’re being honest, I usually screw up more than I get right. And if walking with Christ was anything less than a learning experience this would be extremely discouraging.
What I love about watching Mama and Matt have puzzle time is the side by side work. They push pieces back and forth until they find one that fits.
But their methods of puzzle building aren’t usually the same. Matt starts with whatever he can find to fit, while Mama always finds the corners first.
This Thanksgiving, I’m reminded that it doesn’t matter how you start, only that you start.
Thanksgiving is a time when we go around the table and tell everyone what we’re most thankful for. Typically it isn’t the time to discuss the struggles. So that’s my challenge for you. To always remember that we weren’t built into the people we are today by simply gracing through life and celebrating the glory days.
The struggles, the heartbreak, the trials and tribulations- they are pieces in your puzzle just like the rest. And the puzzle wouldn’t be complete if we left them out.
HEBREWS 6:19 SAYS,
“We have this HOPE as an anchor for the soul. A HOPE both sure, and steadfast.”