All it needs is time, effort and patience. Sure, it might be a lot of work -- but putting the pieces of a puzzle together is also very rewarding.
I found this out for myself this past week, as for the first time ever, I put together a 1000-piece puzzle. It was interesting as I spent my many hours on this project, how I saw puzzling having many similarities to my own life -- or just life, in general.
1. Currently, I see myself as that first picture; the bag of mixed-up puzzle pieces. And I am trying to put myself together -- one piece at a time. Sometimes it seems very overwhelming; like the pieces will never all come together. Like I am climbing an uphill battle that I will never conquer.
Just like a puzzle, you can get frustrated a bit when you can't find the right pieces and you just can't wait to see the finished product. But at the same time you don't really want it to be done too soon. The same goes with my rediscovery...I may want to see how it all ends, yet the journey is such an important part. It's sort of like a good novel too -- you can't wait to see how the story all turns out, yet you don't want the book to end.
2. There were times this week where I had a bunch of pieces get knocked off the table, or the kids flipped them over on me. It may have initially been frustrating to have to start over with flipping them right-side up again...but it actually ended up being a blessing in disguise. I was forced to look at each piece individually again, and that made me see it from a new perspective. When they are all laying on the table, spread out in a huge array of mess, the pieces just seem to blur together and you have a hard time seeing what's right in front of you. But when you take the time to look at them one piece at a time, it's easier to find the pieces you thought were never going to show up.
Often in life, the answer or solution you are looking for is right in front of you. But you fail to see it. When we take the time (or are forced to) look at things from a different angle, things suddenly seem a lot clearer.
Sort of like when you are sure that a certain puzzle piece belongs in a certain place. The color scheme is right, the shape is right...and darn it, you just KNOW you are right. But you can try and shove the piece in to make it fit all you want, only to realize that you have no choice but to admit that you were wrong. If it's not a perfect fit, it goes somewhere else...you just have to find it.
4. It's also okay to ask for help. You don't have to do it all yourself. I was adamant to do this puzzle all by myself. Of course I didn't say no to the girls when they offered their assistance (Malia got ONE piece right...and she wouldn't stop pointing it out to me over and over again, she was so proud), but initially I had a problem with Les finding pieces for me. I wanted to look back at the end and be proud of my accomplishment. I finally came to the conclusion that I could still be proud of myself, even if he helped me with 100 pieces of the 1000 piece puzzle. There's no shame in getting help.
I need to remind myself of this in real life too. I don't need to go through life doing everything alone, just to be proud of myself at the end. If I am struggling, it's okay to admit it. And to ask for assistance.
5. Sometimes it also helps to walk away for awhile and when you come back, you have a 'fresh pair of eyes' to look at the situation. Again, this holds true for both puzzling and real life. There were numerous times when I just couldn't find any more pieces for my puzzle, only to walk away for awhile and come back and get on a roll.
Life is like that often too. You need to walk away from some situaitons for awhile, to give yourself some space. Then when you're ready to face it again, you can deal with it better, having had that break.
6. Sometimes I doubted that the 'puzzle-maker' knew what he was doing...as far as I could tell, the pieces just weren't going to line up; there wasn't enough room by my judgement of the picture.
How many times have I doubted God that he knew what he was doing in my life? But of course I have been wrong -- every single time.
7. It's frustrating when you have a missing piece, like I discovered with this
1000 piece 999-piece puzzle-- but in a way, it was fitting with my whole puzzle analogy.
God isn't finished with me yet. The final piece (or pieces) will only be put together when I am in heaven one day.
Then my puzzle will finally be complete.