Updated: Feb 10, 2020
By Connie Hubble
Every Christmas and Spring break, I like to put together a 1,000-piece puzzle. My children know how much satisfaction I get from placing the last piece, so of course they use that against me by hiding a piece that I don’t discover g until it is the last piece. I look under furniture, under cushions, and call any of my kids who were home during the time the puzzle was on the living room table. In the past they have put a piece in the freezer, or on the top of a picture frame, or actually taken it home with them. I thought of this when I read this quote on Facebook, “If you can trust a puzzle company to make sure every piece is in the box to complete the puzzle; then why can’t you trust God that every piece of your life is there for a reason?”
When I first read this quote, I could relate to both parts of it. I know if a piece of the puzzle is missing, it was one of my children…not the puzzle maker. AND I can also relate to not always trusting Heavenly Father through the trials I have in life. But the older I get and the more experiences I have, the more I know that my Heavenly Father knows me, knows my strengths and weaknesses, knows my trials, and knows my potential.
A couple of seemingly unrelated events in my life have come together, like pieces of a puzzle, to show me that God has a plan for me. The first is, after spending a year in foster care in Brighton, Colorado, I was sent to California to live with the father I had never met. My siblings were returned to live with my mom, and I thought that was terribly unfair. Life with my father was unbearable; he beat me for not knowing who tore the net off our basketball hoop. He pounded holes into walls and abused me in other ways. Three years of putting up with him was so degrading to my soul I ended up running away when I was 12. Friends of my father, a husband and wife, found me, took me to the police station, and left me there. I was back in foster care that afternoon, this time in California.
Although I grew up knowing Jesus Christ and feeling of his spirit, I felt, at that time, that he didn’t care about me. Yet in one of my foster homes, I found the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I’ve become a totally different person than I would have become had I stayed with either of my parents.
The second event has to do with my daughter, Maggie. I waited 40 long years for my girl. When Maggie was 5 months old, I had to return to work. I vetted daycare's, asked for referrals, and thought I really did my homework before deciding on where Maggie should go. I wanted her to be safe. All was fine for the first year, but then I noticed little things amiss.
One day I noticed Maggie’s diaper was full, completely full. I counted that the exact same number of diapers were in the diaper bag when I picked Maggie up, as when I dropped her off. Concerned, I called the lady, and she said that she kept extra diapers at her house and she just used those. I didn’t believe her; I ran a daycare before, and I know you don’t make enough money to provide diapers. So, my awareness was heightened.
Not long after, we noticed that when we brought Maggie home from daycare, she would go straight to her bedroom, line up all her dolls and stuffed animals, and then pace back and forth while yelling at them…like red-faced yelling! My husband and I would look at each other and think…What in the world? Where was she learning to yell like that? She was not old enough to talk, but she was scolding those dolls for sure. Now I was really concerned. Just a day or two later, when I picked Maggie up, she had a big slap mark on her cheek. I asked the daycare provider what happened, and she said, “Oh. I don’t know; I didn’t notice that.” When I got home I was conflicted. My stomach was in knots. I did not know what I was going to do. I was working full-time, so Maggie had to be in daycare, but I couldn’t trust myself to choose a good provider. I looked at Maggie’s little face again,and the slap mark was leaving a welt. My little girl must have cried at the pain of that slap! I put my hand up to the slap mark and realized that it was adult size. I was furious. I called the provider and asked her again how Maggie got that mark…she said it was probably one of the little boys Maggie played with because he had big hands. That was it! Maggie would never be going back to that daycare!
I immediately gave two weeks’ notice at work, a job that I loved, and moved Maggie to the care of a member of my church who could help me out temporarily. Maggie’s safety was of the utmost importance. I would plead with God to help Maggie heal. I hoped she had not been abused more than we knew. I was worried about what we were going to do about the lost income. How could I contribute without having to leave Maggie? The whole ordeal was heart-wrenching and stressful.
I was forced to change directions in my life, and I started college. I decided to become a teacher, so I could be home when Maggie was home. That trial led me directly to my current employment: Working with troubled youth as an English teacher. I relate so well to them because I WAS a troubled youth! Again, I can see how the trials I went through as a child and youth helped prepare me for this work of not only teaching, but in loving these students. I am where I was meant to be.
Thinking of these trials reminds me of the story when the disciples were on a ship and the winds whipped up and tossed them to and fro. When the disciples saw the Savior walking on water, they were troubled, “But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid” (KJV Matthew 14:27).
As we face our trials we can choose fear or cheer. It is absolutely a choice, no matter what the trial. And the more we trust that Heavenly Father has a reason for the different trials in our lives, the more likely we are to choose cheer over fear.
For Valentine’s day this year, I received a card from one of my students in which she wrote, “You are cool, and always happy.” Now, I can’t help being “cool,” but “happy” is a choice, and I am thankful that even though my life is still full of trials that could sink me, my students can see I choose cheer. My happiness is my testimony that God lives and that Jesus Christ is my Savior.
When we are in the pits of a trial, sometimes we cannot see that the Lord is right there to help us, and He has a plan for us. We may not be able to see how our trials prepare us for bigger and better things to come. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father can see the finished product, and He knows what trials we need, or where we need to be to connect all the puzzle pieces. Like the puzzlemaker, He would never withhold a piece of the puzzle because He knows how important each piece is to our development and growth.
If you feel a puzzle piece is missing your life, I encourage you to trust the Lord and have patience as He reveals to you how the events of your life can be turned for the betterment of others.