It’s strange, isn’t it? How one day, you fit perfectly right where you are. You’re comfortable. And you know where you call home.
Then, suddenly, home doesn’t quite feel like home anymore. Somehow, without you ever noticing, you started to build a new home. You know where “home” truly is, but something doesn’t quite fit.
At the end of every stage of life, we can look back and see a nice picture, painted with memories and the special people we shared them with. But, really, that picture is more of a puzzle. And we’re a small piece, fitting perfectly with the pieces around us to create a beautiful picture of that chapter in our life.
But what happens when the chapter is over?
Seasons of change come and bring separation into the picture. So we take our piece along with us.
As we’re away, we have new experiences, with new people and create a new picture. But the big catch comes when we realize our piece changes along with us.
You see, as we add experiences to our lives, it’s like adding new parts to our puzzle piece. We aren’t simply creating a new picture with the same old piece.
Those days spent getting lost in laughter with new friends might add a few bright colors to the mix. And that one time you got burned by an old friend you thought you could trust, maybe one of your edges gets a little charred and crumbles away. The weeks you felt crushed by deadlines adds a few creases, shrinking your piece a little. And seeing new places and trying new things adds a few more nobs to your piece, increasing the size. The tears you cried the day you lost someone close to you smeared the ink a little, and the day your heart was broken by someone you loved made your edges a little more jaded. And on those worst days, the really, really bad ones, a few strikes with a hammer adds some dents.
Before you know it, your piece has undergone some major changes. You’ve weathered some serious storms and danced in some amazing moments. But the truth is, you never really notice until you go back and try to recreate that previous picture.
You go back home to hang out with old friends, and suddenly things don’t feel so comfortable anymore. Your old “normal” feels much less natural and a lot more forced. It’s awkward. And it’s hard to understand what happened at first.
But when you look at all the things you’ve experienced apart from the people in your last puzzle, you have to remember that they have experienced equally as much. They, too, have edges that have been burned and bent and others that have gained new colors and shapes.
Trying to put the old puzzle together with the new pieces proves to be an impossible task, because you aren’t that person anymore. You don’t have that piece anymore. You can’t bend and twist and morph yourself into that person in an attempt to satisfy that nostalgia and recreate the old memories. You can’t erase the things that have changed your piece.
But you can look back and appreciate those memories. You can reminisce and speak fondly of those days. You can see how far you’ve come and appreciate the changes you’ve made.
And it’s important to remember that, although the pieces don’t all fit together anymore, it doesn’t take away from what used to be. The old puzzle is still there, shining in all of its glory. But now, its a picture in a frame. Not meant to be taken apart and put back together or recreated. Those pieces are all different now. But that doesn’t make the old picture any less beautiful or real. You didn’t live a lie. You simply lived a chapter that’s over now.
But guess what? Every once in a while, life gives you a pretty cool piece in your puzzle. It’s the one that changes just as much as yours, but, somehow, always fits back perfectly. It’s the friendship that can experience years apart and pick up right where it left off, as if the original puzzle pieces were still there. It’s odd and illogical and really, really awesome. When you find those pieces, don’t lose them. You’ve found something special.
But when you realize people you thought would always be in your puzzle no longer fit, be gracious. Understand that it’s nothing personal against you. It’s just that sometimes life takes you in different directions, and while you were apart, their piece went through some changes. And yours did too. At the end of the day, your pieces might look battered and torn, but they are no less beautiful. They are no less you.
“You will never be completely at home again, because a part of your heart will always be elsewhere. That is the price you pay for the richness of knowing and loving people in more than one place.”