Life is a Jigsaw Puzzle

Original photo by Darlene Franklin-Campbell, 2021

When I was a kid, my mom and I spent hours putting together jigsaw puzzles. I got pretty good at it. This week I put a puzzle together and as I did, I had a Forrest Gump’s Momma kind of moment, but instead of thinking that life is like a box of chocolates, I thought, “Life is like a jigsaw puzzle.”

WE PUT IT TOGETHER WITHOUT A BOX LID TO GUIDE US

Except we don’t get to look at the picture on the the box, because we left it somewhere. And we can’t remember where. We are aware that it had an image on it, but we can’t remember exactly what it looked like. The nuances escape us. We may have some idea that it was a garden or a yellow cat or whatever, but we don’t have the exact image to go by, just some vague memory.

So, we look at the pieces in front of us and try to fit them together. Sometimes, the colors, shapes and patterns match up perfectly and sometimes, they don’t. Often, we’re like nine-year-old children, trying to cram pieces together that don’t really go together and then we get mad because our picture isn’t unfolding in a way that makes sense to us.

It’s not impossible to put the puzzle together without the complete picture to guide us. I have done that a time or two. It just takes quite a bit of slowing down the mind and allowing intuition to come into play, paying attention to those subtle variations in colors, sizes, patterns, and shapes of the pieces. I mean you must analyze every piece in relation to the last piece you put down and the surrounding pieces. When we do this, without trying to force the pieces together to create the immediate results that we want, we soon see a true picture unfolding and each time we fit one piece with another that naturally goes with it, we feel a small sense of exhilaration and triumph.

WE HAVE AMNESIA AND LEFT IT SOMEWHERE.

We sort of come into this world with spiritual amnesia and the older we get, the longer we go without a view of the “box lid,” the less we remember. We start listening to other people tell us how we’re supposed to be and what the pictures of our lives are supposed to look like. We start trying to fit the pieces into place according to what others say, but here’s the thing. They lost their box lids, too, and most don’t even know what their own puzzles are supposed to look like, let alone yours! So, they try to tell you how to put your puzzle together based on what they think theirs are maybe, possibly, supposed to be. It doesn’t work. It leads to frustration and to anger. Some people get so mad that you’re not putting your puzzle together like they think it ought to be that they try to force you, even hurt you. Some go so far in their need to control as to destroy another person’s puzzle. They may try to control you, trick you, manipulate you, intimidate you, threaten you—all because it unnerves them that they might not actually be the master puzzle solvers they have believed themselves to be. They might get so fearful that somehow it is going to hurt them if they allow you to put your own puzzle together. They might also get afraid someone else is going to damage their puzzles or steal their pieces, so they set up a guard and vehemently guard their puzzles, not allowing anyone in who doesn’t follow their prescribed rules for solving puzzles. Others scream at you and tell you how bad you are because your picture isn’t looking the way they think it’s supposed to look.

Sometimes, we feel horrible about ourselves, and we think that somehow, we’re just not good at putting our puzzles together and that there is something wrong with our brains or our hearts or that we are just not “good people.” We walk around feeling guilty and unworthy because we aren’t putting our puzzles together to please others, or we compared our puzzles to theirs and ours looks smaller or duller or more jumbled. We go to the puzzle “experts”, and they tell us how to put our puzzles together. But guess what? They don’t have the box lid to our puzzles either!

So, what do we do?

WE CALL THE PUZZLE-MAKER

Imagine that you know that the original creator of your puzzle and that this creator knows exactly where each piece goes. This puzzle-maker comes and whispers in your ear as you put your puzzle together and tells you which piece to pick up and how to turn it and points to the exact place where it goes. There is no stress on you. Your struggle ceases. The only way you can go back to feeling stressed, guilty, fearful, chaotic, etc. is to resist the help being offered to you, if you ignore the puzzle-maker’s instructions.

I will interject here that sometimes well-meaning people will come along and point out to you that you are in error, because the instructions you’re receiving from the puzzle-maker aren’t the same as what they think is right, so they want to remind you that there’s something wrong with your hearing and they offer their services to translate for you and tell you that you should follow their instructions as they are clearly more qualified to talk to Puzzle-Maker than you, but they’re not, because Puzzle-Maker talks to them about their puzzles and to you about yours.

So, if we trust the puzzle-maker and stop listening to everyone else, we find that we are not only putting our puzzle together almost effortlessly, without relentlessly struggling to jam together pieces that don’t belong together, we’re also having a wonderful time trusting and getting to know the puzzle-maker.

Each person’s life is a unique puzzle that is only finished when we leave our earth bodies. It doesn’t matter if anyone else in the world can see that our picture is unfolding as it should or if they can see the complete picture when we’re done. It’s not their job to see it. It’s not even ours. It’s simply our job to put our puzzle together and we can either do it without guidance, guessing our way through or we can listen to the soft guiding voice of the puzzle-maker.

TRUST THAT THE PIECES WILL COME TOGETHER

I believe that everything in my life is working out for my good, for my highest benefit, so long as I don’t get impatient and try to force the pieces together before the Puzzle-Master tells me where to put them. People can say whatever they want, do whatever they want but as for me, I will follow my internal spiritual guidance system. I paraphrase what King David of Israel once said of his puzzle-maker, “What you say, your word, is a lamp that lights my path.”  There are times when I don’t know exactly what I should wish for or ask for or which way to go, but if I wait, the answer comes. The indwelling I Am in me helps me with this weakness, asking for things so wonderful and deep that my natural mind hasn’t caught up just yet and it’s not even possible for me to speak or write those deepest desires with ordinary speech. Still, they are there and if I only follow the gentle guiding of my puzzle-maker, the whole picture unfolds, a piece at a time.

So, each of us has our own life path to walk, our own puzzle to complete. The puzzle-maker is constantly whispering to us “This piece goes here,” or “no, not there. Not yet.” It’s up to us to choose whether to listen and trust enough to follow the puzzle-maker’s guidance or not. There is never any force involved. If there is force, it’s not the puzzle-maker doing the forcing, it’s another person without a box lid, another person who can’t see the big, eternal picture. If we listen to those Spirit whispers and obey them, our life-puzzles go together so much easier.

As for me, I will live my life trusting the puzzle-maker to guide me in putting every piece into its proper place. If that brings people into my life, great. If that causes some people to walk out, it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate them, or love them, it just means that my highest call is not to complete their puzzles, it’s to complete mine.

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