Start with a Puzzle
I finished a puzzle tonight. Granted, it’s a child’s puzzle but it DOES have 100 pieces. I promised my daughter that I’d finish it before she wakes in the morning. She really does have a great attention span but, I mean, she is five. Too much staring at pieces for so long and, well, the task turns to me. Which, if you think about it, is kind of funny because I’m awful at puzzles. I once tried to put together one with my sister. In the time it took her to complete half of one side of the puzzle, not only had I only matched seventeen pieces but I was talking to the puzzle pieces. True story. Thankfully, I have gotten better… having a child who absolutely loves them helps. Anyway, she wanted me to finish the puzzle for her. And I did.
Putting the last piece in place gave my heart a little bit of a thrill. And, actually, it did more than that. Silly as it may be, it seemed to prove to me that I’m capable of more than I think I am. If you’d told me as a teenager struggling through math that I’d be creatively teaching it to my children without having a nervous breakdown, I’d have called you crazy. But I have. If you asked me to put together a 100 piece puzzle ten years ago, I’d have laughed at you. But, tonight, I did it in a decent amount of time (after all, I still had time to write this). I also made homemade strawberry jam for the first time tonight, and it actually turned out pretty good.
All of these things are small things, inconsequential in the grand scheme of life. Or, are they? Maybe they serve as a good reminder that sometimes instead of trying to vanquish the monsters, we should shoo away the fly first for, while small feats may be small, they’re still feats nonetheless. The small things we claim victory over—these are stepping stools to real challenges. They are important too. Because, sometimes, putting that final piece of a child’s puzzle in place can remind us that we surprise ourselves every day, we accomplish what we didn’t think we could do every day.
Hope doesn’t come from some big banner or a winning lottery ticket. It comes from grace and from remembering to stop a moment and pay attention to our everyday surroundings. A rainbow, an especially helpful clerk at the store. And it comes from within: making dinner instead of fast food, putting a puzzle together. If we let them, these things offer hope and a reason to believe that, when the tasks get larger, when we’re pushed and challenged to our breaking points, we can hold on, we can push onward; that through prayer, friendships and our own unique blend of experiences, talents and strengths, we’ll climb the mountain to stand in the sunlight. So, if the monster is too big right now, if the mountain is too high, work a Sudoko puzzle for “fun”, walk for an hour instead of thirty minutes, put together a 100 piece puzzle. Set your sights temporarily lower, long enough to remember your strengths. Courage and grace will follow and, succeed or fail, you’ll still have won.