I admire people who can think outside of the box. Abstract thinking gives me a headache. I'm
more of a black and white, inside the box thinker. If I can visualize it, I can understand it. Well,
at least most things, that is. When I look at a map and it says the distance from point A to
point B is ten miles, I can grasp that. Ten miles is about twelve minutes on the freeway, or
thirty minutes in downtown rush hour traffic. That's easy. Miles, feet, inches, hours and
minutes are all concepts I can understand.

Recently, I decided to try my hand at bead work. As a novice, I noticed all the bead catalogs
listed each bead in metric measurements. Whoa. The catalog showed big pictures so I could
really see the colors and styles I liked, but I didn't have a clue how big or small the beads
were. My mind is permanently set in feet and inches. This bead is 1.8mm and that bead is
3.4mm and I don't have one clue how big a millimeter is. It made my brain hurt, which is a side
effect of trying to comprehend any principle, abstract or not, that my brain doesn't understand.

This can't be that difficult, I thought. You can find anything you could possibly want to know
about anything on the Internet, so I hit the search engines. How big is a millimeter? Now, I'm
looking for a simple statement that says, "A millimeter is __of an inch." Is that too much to
ask? After a very long search process, I found charts that gave me the metric equivalent of all
of my standard measures: 1/16 of an inch equals 1.6mm, and 1/8 of an inch equals 3.2mm
and so forth. But in the final analysis, I realized I never found anything that described how big
ONE millimeter is.

One millimeter. Surely there's a millimeter equivalent? Some number like .01234 of an inch or
something? I wanted a pat answer to my simple question; a number that I could use to
convert millimeters to fractions of an inch.  Where is that book, "All You Ever Wanted to Know
About Millimeters But Were Afraid to Ask?"  I couldn't even find a "Millimeters for Dummies".
All I could find were charts.

Finally, I realized I may never find that magic number. Maybe it doesn't really exist. Maybe it
does. Maybe it's so complex it can't be written. Maybe it's kin to Pi or something. But I came to
the realization that I had all the information I really needed, to do what I needed to do. The
beads I wanted were between 1/16" and 3/32" which meant I could buy any bead in the
catalog between 1.6mm and 2.4mm. That put it inside my mental "box" so I could work with it.

So what does all this have to do with grief?  Lots.  When we are grieving, our biggest
questions are often why? and why now?  We want answers we can understand. Answers we
can live with. We want something that will "fit in the box" so we can understand and accept it.

We desperately want our finite minds to be able to completely understand the mind of an
infinite God. We want our brain to be able to wholly understand His wisdom and all He
knows, so that somehow, we can find comfort for our loss.

I have learned that when I ask God a question, sometimes it seems there is no answer. That's
usually because even though I asked a simple question, the answer is so complex that my
mind can't comprehend His answer. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not
our ways. He is, after all, God. There are some things God can't explain to us because our
minds just can not grasp it. We would have to be gods ourselves to understand.

We asked why and why now? Maybe the answer is just too complex for us to understand.
Sometimes, God gives us a metric answer to an "inches" question when we want an exact,
absolute, fit-it-in-the-box answer. Maybe His answer is like the millimeter equivalent and it just
won't fit in our box.

Yet, He has given us all the information we need, to do all the things we really need to do.
Seek Him, trust Him, and allow Him into our hearts to lead and guide us to that place where
true healing can begin. Remain strong in our faith. Encourage one another. Pray. Listen for
His still small voice. Those are the things we
can comprehend.

The time will come when we stand in His presence in that most Glorious place, that suddenly
every question ever left unanswered will be fully understood. Every tear we've ever shed will
be instantly forgotten. Joy shall fill every corner of our heart ~ every millimeter!

        "You may have sorrow now, but I will see you again
          and your hearts will rejoice and be full of joy.
      Then, no one can ever take your joy from you."
                    John 16:22 (paraphrased)
How Big is a Millimeter?
© Ferna Lary Mills


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