My family was a Puzzle Family. When I was young, we seemed to always be working on a puzzle. We even had a card table set up in the corner of the family room where there was usually a work in progress. And these weren't everyday, run-of-the-mill puzzles. We're talking 2,000, 3,000 and 5,000 pieces. It was a fun, togetherness-type of activity, which filled the evenings in a world with only 4 TV channels, no computers and no video games.
We got pretty good at it. My parents would buy the hardest puzzles they could find, and we would blow right through them. I have a vague memory of disliking round puzzles, because they always seemed to be extra difficult for me.
Mom did not like it when we would zip through a puzzle too quickly, and sometimes she would do things to ensure that it would last a few days - or longer. Here are a few of her
1) As soon as she brought out a new puzzle, she would dump it on the table, and rush off to her bedroom - with the box. She would then hide the box and come back with a wicked grin. From there, we would have to work on the puzzle with absolutely no idea what it was supposed to look like.
2) After we would go to bed, she would secretly take a half-dozen pieces from off the table and hide them. We would spend HOURS looking for the one piece to complete an edge - and eventually give up - only to find the piece in its rightful place the next day.
3) Occasionally, we would come home from school and find the puzzle pieces had been mysteriously turned over; brown-side-up. Yes, we would have to do the entire puzzle with no picture at all. The only thing we could go by was the shape of each piece. It was brutal, but challenging.
Because of this odd practice in my home, putting together a puzzle has never been very difficult for me. I definitely learned that it is far simpler to put together a puzzle when you have a clear image of what the end result is supposed to look like - otherwise you are flying "blind" and end up having to resort to the trial-and-error method.
It is a simple enough concept, but one that embodies one of the greatest blessings I enjoy as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The simplicity of the lyrics show us the basic outline of the picture to be painted:
I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
I know who I am
I know God's plan
I'll follow Him in faith
That simple outline of life's purpose is something that the majority of the world does not enjoy. Many do not know there is a plan for them - a picture of what their life could be. Some have a hint of an outline, or have started linking together a few of the pieces, but many of them are desperately trying to find more of the pieces, and pound them into place. They are truly puzzled. The puzzle of existence can feel particularly cruel when the final result is not understood or envisioned. Many presume that since they can't see the picture, then there must not be one, and since there isn't one, there needn't be an Artist.
I have an image in my mind of what my life is supposed to look like - even as I am trying to put it together.
I am not working with a blank canvas.
I can see the patterns, the colors, and the shapes, and understand how they fit together.
I have been shown glimpses of the entire picture, and can refer to it as often as I need to.
I know there is someone who loves me that knows where the missing pieces are.
I know He will also help me fit them together.
These blessing come from multiple sources, each drawing on the knowledge of the very Artist that created me. He helps me find the pieces and pull them together to create what my life is to become. I learn from prophets that enlighten me, leaders who teach me, blessings that come to me through priesthood holders and patriarchs, the singular beauty of the temple, and a trusted friend in the Holy Ghost.
Supported by this personal spiritual army, I work to put the pieces together to create the image that God wants for me. His image. There are times when the pieces seem to be lost, and times when they don't seem to fit. But they will not always be lost - they will be found, and they will eventually fit together.
And sometimes we struggle with the puzzle, even while refusing to look at the box that is right in front of us. We search for the right pieces, we try and pound the wrong ones into place out of frustration - when the Artist would willingly show us the picture - if we would just ask - or look up. Sometimes He will unveil it all at once, sometimes more gradually - as He sees fit. He wants us to see the big picture.
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know, even as also I am known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
...Line upon line.
...Piece by piece.
"He Knows Me Better" by Jenessa Buttars.
(My EC and I stumbled upon this song from one of my son's EFY CDs from last year. It is written and performed by a lovely young lady named Jenessa Buttars. I tracked her down on Facebook and she sweetly gave me permission to use this song in this post. Thanks Jenessa! Her music is not for sale yet, but you can visit her page if you want to hear more: http://www.facebook.com/jenessabuttarsmusic)