Puzzles and Life!

My “mother in love” (i.e. my husband’s mother) loves to take her time assembling 500 piece puzzles. It is a favorite hobby of hers’ that I have grown to admire over the years. The process of putting a puzzle with that many pieces together can sometimes take a while. It could range from taking several days to possible taking a couple weeks for her to complete a puzzle. Successfully assembling a puzzle of this size requires her focus, concentration and a lot of patience. She has all of these qualities.

However, exhibiting these qualities can be a challenge. Especially in the beginning when it appears that there is no way that all the multitude of different shaped puzzle pieces will ever fit together perfectly. In order to completely assemble a puzzle regardless of the number of pieces; one has to become somewhat comfortable with the continual dance of trial and error. You look at the pieces that have already been assembled, and then based on the way things look, you choose one piece from among the many disassembled puzzle pieces that appears that it would fit perfectly with the others. Often only to find time after time that although it looked as if it would fit, it is not the correct piece. So back into the pile of disassembled pieces it returns to wait until the perfectly correct space for it emerges.

I believe our lives can be likened to these 500 piece puzzles. Our lives are made up of a multitude of various pieces called life experiences. As we journey through life, all of our experiences along with all of the discoveries we make along the way about our lives based on those experiences are the various shaped pieces of our individual life puzzle. There are times in our lives when we futilely try to attach certain pieces to our lives only to find that the pieces that looked like they would fit don’t actually go together as we thought they would. We, like a person assembling a puzzle may sometimes find ourselves trying to connect, or more accurately, trying to force a piece into a space where it looks like it fits but after trying to attach it usually more than once, we realize it just does not fit. Any continued effort to try to force the piece to fit in a space where it doesn’t belong is both frustrating and a futile effort on our part. Our trial and error dance teaches us that if a piece does not fit there is no need to force it. Instead we must learn to do as the lyrics to a popular 1970’s RB song by Parliament Funkadelic that says “If it don’t fit don’t force it just relax and let it go. Just because that’s how you want it doesn’t mean it will be so.”

When we have learned this lesson well and embraced the truth of it; we find that like a skilled puzzle assembler, gradually all the pieces will eventually join together perfectly. And when we are no longer forcing pieces where they do not fit, we find that life becomes less rigid, frustrating and disappointing. When we learn the lessons that our various life experiences have been sent to teach us, we position ourselves to mature and grow from them. And then, just like the person assembling a puzzle, we begin to see the picture the puzzle was created to project start coming into view. Over time, it all comes together fitting perfectly as it was created.

Yes, our lives are just like uniquely crafted multi-piece puzzles. Let us not become so frustrated with the process that we quit before it all comes together. Instead, let us have the courage as well as the focus, concentration and patience it requires for all of the disassembled pieces of our various life experiences to come together to create the masterpiece which is our life!

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