Puzzle Pieces

My family did a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle in one and a half days.

I usually shy away from participating in my family’s puzzling activities due to the mass amount of pieces that all vaguely appear to be the same and the frustration that arises from a challenging section. I might occasionally go over to the designated puzzle area and search for a piece or two that fit together, but then move onto another more do-able activity.

In quite a change of events, I actually enjoyed this puzzle! The image consisted of a collection of books bearing shiny gold foil lettering and emblazoned details along the binding. With the ability to separate the numerous pieces into sections first based on color, and then by individual book, the magnitude of the task became much more bearable.

While working on putting together the pieces of one book at a time, I searched through the pile to find each individual piece, noting the details and shape of each unique one. Although many pieces looked very similar and almost identical, each one bore something special that marked its place in the grand picture.

To my family’s slight amusement/annoyance, I followed each successful match with an excited “aha!” Each movement towards creating the grand image felt like a little victory.

As we transition into the new year, we reflect upon our 2017 and look forward with hopes of a new 2018. We recall the happenings of the past 365 days, focusing on the things that felt most significant. This is a beneficial activity, where we can evaluate our goals, both short- and long-term, and make a conscious effort to work more fervently towards those goals, whatever they may be.

However, a general trend appears where we wish away the struggles of our year, emphasize our successes, and readily push the year into the past, optimistically wishing that the new calendar will somehow bring about bigger and better things.

Our year has been a puzzle (possibly in more ways than one). Each little thing that has happened to us fits somewhere in our life, connecting to other moments and forming the great picture that makes us, well, us. The wonderful things stand out in bright shiny gold, and the more mundane things blend together in a span of monotony. Hope and optimism and moving forward are beautiful and valuable things, that’s for sure. And so are struggles and trials and failures. It is easy to forget that the difficult parts of our life have their place in the puzzle as well. They fit into their spot and make up a portion of our overall experience, whether we like it or not.

While we can certainly hope for a better new year, we cannot undermine the significance of the trials of the year past. Whatever we have gone through, it has allowed us to learn, grow, and make decisions about who we are as people. Wishing away the experiences we view as negative leaves us with a bit of emptiness and undervaluing the lessons we can learn by embracing our struggles.

If you’ve ever done a puzzle, you know the frustration of finishing the whole thing and realizing that one piece is missing. That one piece and the hole it creates becomes the most important thing, until it’s found and placed where it is meant to be. We sell ourselves short by undermining any part of our experience. In saying that, when we recognize all areas of our life for what they are, we can choose to leave the past in the past and move forward with positivity and virtue, empowered and driven.

Things in our life may not fit where we want them to or where we think they should, but everything does fit into its place in the grand picture of our life.

When we think about the entire puzzle of our 2017, let’s acknowledge all of the things that pushed us, shaped us, and motivated us, and embrace the moments that helped us become more ourselves. Let us also remember the moments where we did not shine our brightest, and choose to improve those areas of our life in the new year. May we embrace our humanness and resolve to understand and embrace our true selves, this day and every day.

In Joy, Monica

God has made everything appropriate to its time, but has put the timeless into their hearts so they cannot find out, from beginning to end, the work which God has done.

Ecclesiastes 3:11

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