I'm fascinated by Mosaic, an artwork composed of tiny pieces of ceramic tile, china, glass, pebbles, or shells that have been put together in an intricate design. When you look at a Mosaic close up, you see many small, individual pieces that make up the design, but when you stand back and look at it, often a picture or a beautiful pattern comes into view.
I saw an unusual Mosaic piece a few years ago at the airport in Ft. Myers, Florida, where the famous "Shell Love Bug" was on display. It was a car, a Volkswagen Beetle convertible that had been completely covered with some 20,000 shells of 67 species native to the gulf shores of Southwest Florida, and it took about 1200 hours for volunteers to complete. I loved seeing the many different kinds of shells, but was even more "wowed" by how the shells had been put together to form amazing patterns all over the car.
Though I've never done a project that size, I enjoy doing Mosaic. It can be both fun and relaxing. I like to find old bowling balls and china plates at garage sales and thrift stores to Mosaic. My hope is that they will become pieces of art for my garden or the gardens of friends.
However, creating a Mosaic isn't done quickly and I have a lot of time to think while I'm doing it, so I started contemplating how much Mosaic reminds me of life:
First, when I look at all the pieces laying on the table, ready to be glued onto the bowling ball, I think about the time and patience it will take to re-create the design in my mind onto the ball. And in our complicated lives, there are a lot of pieces that we, somehow, need to fit together in a meaningful way. Some of those pieces are positive things, such as our talents and strengths, victories and successes, and our memories of good things that happened in our life. Some of the pieces, though, represent the pain we all carry within, the memories of difficult experiences we've had, our mistakes, regrets, and failures. How to fit all that together into some grand design is not initially discernible or easy. Sometimes it feels like those pieces are just laying all over the table of life, and that it's going to take a lot of time and patience to re-create the design we hold in our mind of what we would like our life to be like, and what we believe God wants for our life.
Second, sometimes the pieces need to be altered to fit into the design. I often need to break larger pieces into smaller pieces. I may use a Tile Cutter to cut a piece into a particular shape so it fits better into the overall design. And here is the hard part... In our life, the original design of who we really are, the picture the Master Designer had in mind of us before we were even conceived, is likely to become more evident when we give God permission to shape us however God desires. Our experiences, positive and negative, can act as the Tile Cutter in our lives, and if we are open to it, whatever is not reflective of our truest self is cut off, and we are shaped so our true design is what remains.
Third, the design or picture is not evident immediately. It takes time for it to emerge. So, too, in life, it may not be clear to you how God could possibly fit all the pieces of your life together in some meaningful way. But as you spend time seeking to get to know the real you...who you were designed to be in the first place...and as you allow God to shape you and trim off the aspects of your life that don't belong to the original design, the bigger picture of how it all fits together becomes more clear.
Fourth, sometimes it's easy to focus on trying to fit each small piece in perfectly, forgetting that the small imperfections are not noticeable when standing back and looking at the big picture. In fact, those small imperfections even may make the piece more unique. And in life, we can easily keep our attention on what we see as our imperfections, when in fact, God sees the big picture and can use those aspects of us as demonstrations of mercy, grace, and love.
Last, sometimes the small pieces that make up the whole design come from a larger piece, such as a china plate, that has been broken. I usually use a hammer to break a plate into smaller pieces. This is particularly important when working with a rounded surface, such as a bowling ball, because the flat pieces would not be able to be glued to the ball if they were too large. And in life, the reality is that brokenness occurs for everyone at some point. We can't keep it from happening! It may be through the eventual loss of a loved one, or a job, your good health, or a marriage, but no one gets a pass from experiencing pain and brokenness at some point in this life. So, no matter what brokenness you have experienced or what has happened in your past, and no matter how far off track you have been, God can still create a wonderful Mosaic of your life...a true work of art.. Even with your brokenness, God can bring beauty, goodness, creativity, and love into the world through you.