From the Archives: Playing Puzzles

I shared this post on my first blog back in 2015; I was surprised by how relevant it remained to my life now. The original and its oh so embarrassing graphics can be viewed here

Fun Fact about me: I love playing puzzles; something about sitting down and turning a mess of pieces into a pretty picture rocks my Type A socks off. :) Fun Fact #2 about me: I love Elf. (Really it's my absolute favorite movie, I will watch it anytime of year.) And for Christmas this year I received a 750 piece Elf puzzle. #nice

About two thirds of the way done, I kept getting tripped up by one section and trying to put a piece in. And it was sooo close to fitting in that spot but one knob was just a tiny bit misshaped to actually fit so I'd set it aside. And yet every time I returned to that section I would put it in again, hoping this time it would actually work.

"If only I could just will this piece to fit here." 

I then sat back and realized something: how many times have I tried to do this with my life? Willing something to fit where it doesn't belong. Here's the thing, puzzles have a plan: make the picture on the box. And our lives have a plan, a plan more amazing than anything we could come up with, drafted by the One who knows our hearts better than we do.

And sometimes things don't fit into that plan. It doesn't mean that our plan is bad, it doesn't mean that thing is bad (although it certainly can!) It might be a timing thing, it might be a learning thing, but it is ALWAYS a something else fits better here... thing. You don't have to know what that is, you just need to keep working and it will come together. RUN, DON'T WALK to Jesus and He will make your paths straight.

I thought that was all that God was going to teach me about Him and myself but He's rather smart - a side effect of being God ;) - and snuck a few more realizations in there.

For example, I follow a pretty stringent method of solving puzzles. It involves a lot of separating. Step one is to separate the edges and the non-edges and put the frame together. This is akin to relationship with the Lord: going to Mass, saying grace before meals, etc., kindergarten stuff here. Then comes sifting through colors or patterns and it requires a bit more effort: more structured daily prayer, maybe a trip to chapel, frequenting confession a bit more often, etc. And now you're almost done and all that's left is the background or #ExtremeMode, a bunch of similarly colored pieces with a ton of potential arrangements. This is gonna take time, effort, and patience (I'm really bad at that last one.) This might mean seeing a spiritual director, or committing to Holy Hour more often, offering a Rosary or two or a ton, and generally asking Mama Mary and the Saints for lots of intercession.

One last thing, be in the right condition. We typically do puzzles in our nicer living room, it's less busy, less cluttered, and has a large coffee table perfect for laying out pieces; the downside is the lighting is pretty bad. After sundown it's pretty hard to tell similarly colored pieces apart. In the same way when we are in a state of mortal sin, we can't tell what we are doing because our soul and relationship with God has been damaged. Again, RUN, DON'T WALK to confession, prepare yourself to be healed with His transforming love, to be fortified with the graces to resist temptation next time, and be in the closest state of union with Him this side of Heaven by receiving Him in the Eucharist.

Some pretty heavy stuff for just playing puzzles for awhile. Have you ever had the Lord lay something on you in an unexpected but profound way?