As I’ve been thinking about what I might blog about this week a couple of things keep popping into my head. One was Patsy Cline singing “I Fall to Pieces” (Click here to listen http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuZTk1hdpMs ) Now I must confess that only the first four words of that song really pertain to my other thought, i.e., that a puzzle is a really good metaphor for life. The image of a person crumbling to a little heap of colorful jigsaw pieces seemed to fit (pardon the pun).
I know I can’t speak for you all, but I know my life is a puzzle. It has border pieces, the basic parts of life that are fairly simple to figure out. The way that these pieces softly snapped together in quick succession gave me an encouraging sense of progress. Sometimes border pieces have been knocked out of place, but they’ve usually been easily reconnected.
Then there are all the other pieces. Unlike a jigsaw puzzle where you have the advantage of dividing them into neat little piles of seemingly similar pieces, life’s puzzle seems to be a process of discovering what is in the various piles as you go along. Sometimes I choose to stay and work on a pile, but other times I move on to a different one.
Then there are those pieces assigned to one corner of life’s card table. They don’t look like they fit anywhere. You pick them up, finger their crooks and crevices, study their hues, and conclude that they were surely put in the wrong box! I’ve had a few of those pieces. In fact, one of my piles started out with most of its pieces being condemned to the infamous “corner.” It was the Should-A-Woman-Work-Outside-Her-Home area. Like so many areas, I couldn’t even see that I was working on this part of the puzzle until I really started looking closely at the pieces. One of the pieces is a vivid memory that sat in the corner for years. It looked like this: my fiancé and I are in my 1982 black Pontiac J2000 hatchback, driving up US-285 headed to Kittredge, CO. It’s a bright winter day, the sun glinting off the snow along the highway. We’re discussing our future, and he declares, “I just want you to know I don’t have a problem with you working.” At the time, I thought the comment was superfluous; I assumed he would think this way. He was raised by a working woman; my mom had both worked and stayed home with my younger brother and me. I had career aspirations. His comment did not alarm me in the least. If anything, I think I felt relieved and a little bewildered that he felt the need to clarify the issue. (It’s interesting that my mind would retain this memory even though it wasn’t a big deal to me at the time.)
This might be a good place to interject a key aspect of puzzle working. The boxed variety requires a couple of things: 1) patient, precise observation skills, and 2) perseverance. To the puzzle of life, I would add two more requirements: prayer and a preponderance of wise counsel.
I probably don’t need to tell you, but pieces started accumulating in this pile. I became a mother. I faced childcare issues. I continued to advance in my career. Most of my friends stayed home with their children. My husband still thought it was best for me to work. I read about the issue. I prayed about the issue. My views and desires changed. My husband’s did, too. I became a Stay-At-Home-Mom, working harder than I had probably ever worked in my life.
The pieces started fitting together. Running your mind’s fingers over such success is like Braille for seeing people – feeling the perfectly interlocking crevices amidst the smooth surface.
However, this portion of the puzzle still isn’t complete. The last few years I’ve started working again, teaching part-time both in and outside of my home. And I’m not sure what will happen when the kids are all grown up. I’ve read about what other people have done and recommend. I’ve talked it over with other women; but I expect that this part of my puzzle will have to be uniquely fitted to my family’s situation.
NOW FOR A BUNNY TRAIL or should I say a bunny path? As I was writing this a plethora of “P” words kept popping up (see what I mean?) Puzzle – pieces – Patsy – patience – perseverance-prayer, etc., etc. I don’t know how many P words are in the dictionary but I did find a website with a vocabulary list of 1,778 words: http://www.manythings.org/vocabulary/lists/l/words.php?f=3esl.16 And while I was pondering these P words, another metaphor for life presented itself. James 4:14 talks about how our lives are vapors. So what letter is right there smack in the middle of vapor? P! And what does P say. That’s right, “puh.” Like a puff of air, this is really, kind of what a vapor is! You may find this painfully pointless, but I think it’s phenomenal, and I pray that your path through your personal, vaPorous pieces is plentifully pleasant and prosperous. To which I hear you saying, “Oh, pleeease!” Pardon me?