Thursday, October 23, 2008

Putting the Pieces Together

My biz partner, Cathy (below), loves doing puzzles; I am spatially stunted.
She focuses on the destination; I only see the next mile marker.
She is comfortable with the 30,000-foot view; I’m scrambling for a detailed road map.

How in the world are we going to hatch a nonprofit?

I find it interesting that we’ve been put together for this venture in that our strengths, weaknesses and hearts are in such different locales. But I’m also becoming more aware of what I’ve learned is a supernatural growth process. It truly is otherworldly—not defined by the standards we can see. It’s confusing, messy, liberating, exciting and exhausting all at once. And it’s almost always unexplainable until you get to the other side of it, until the full picture starts coming into view.

I confess that earlier in life, when I was still single and child-free, I was rather judgmental of women who complained about how hard single parenting was. It was along the lines of, “You should’ve thought of that before, hon.” And now, I find myself in a place I never wanted to be, doing what I never wanted to do, and finding my heart broken for others in similar situations.

I could not have visualized this for myself.

Of course I planned on happily-ever-after. Of course the choice to divorce created fallout, both positive and negative, that I couldn’t have foreseen. But just as in a puzzle, when you finally get some pieces to fit and say, “Oh! It’s an apple, not a fire plug,” your vision can shift toward something that didn’t exist before, making it more real than you knew.

I’ve been a single parent for seven of my daughter’s ten years. We’ve slogged through illnesses, work challenges, parenting conundrums, money shortages, legal battles, loneliness and regular, boring life stuff. At every turn, I realize now, I’ve received another piece of the puzzle: Some hard-won lessons are the equivalent of a corner piece—an anchor securely gained. Others are blurry insiders—parts that make no sense at the moment, parts that need to be put aside for a bit before they fit.

Both are needed. Both are valid. But I believe more and more that ours is a God who hides the box top. And, paradoxically, that can benefit us, stretching our sights beyond what we could imagine.

So as Cathy and I sift through the pieces, some eerily familiar to us both while others are unique, we gain a better understanding of single parenthood—the crazy challenges and the crazier rewards. And it’s our sincere hope that, in spite of our individual visions, we’ll create a full spectrum of services and tools for single moms who’d kind of like to be working alongside others at the card table—laughing together at the darker commonalities, and encouraging others to put a particularly ornery piece aside until its meaning starts coming into view.

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