There are numerous metaphors for life. Life is like a garden; you reap what you sow. Life is like a butterfly; you go through changes before you become something beautiful. Life is like Twitter; You can’t control what people say and do, but you can just follow or unfollow them.
Of course, there’s always Forrest Gump. Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.
I personally like the life metaphor that an older, wiser woman named Karen Walton explained to me recently: Life is like a jigsaw puzzle.
How is life like a jigsaw puzzle?
There are a lot of pieces. If we are fortunate, others will come alongside us and help us figure it out and get it right. Sometimes we will be left alone to struggle with it for a while.
When working a puzzle, we face a myriad of colors and concave and convex shapes. We can become easily overwhelmed by the piles of pieces. Thankfully, there’s a handy tip that is helpful in this situation:
Start with the edges.
This tip is helpful when piecing together a jigsaw puzzle, and it’s helpful in life. We should always start with the borders first. We need to figure out what our boundaries are and start with what is essential. Do you know what your “boundary lines” are? Everything that we do should fit within that framework.
Always start with what is important!
You have to look at the big picture to figure your puzzle out.
What do you look to for answers when trying to solve your puzzle? You look to your box top. Who designed your box (your life) and knows how it works? God is the one who created us and knows the inner workings and purpose of our lives.
We need to look at the Guide, on the front of our box top, to best understand how our puzzle works.
Everyone’s puzzle will be different.
My pieces won’t fit together in the same way that other people’s puzzles will fit together. Even if my puzzle has a similar picture, it’s not the same puzzle.
I distinctly remember ordering a puzzle for my kids and a piece was missing. When I called the puzzle manufacturer to see if the missing piece could be mailed to me, I was told to discard the puzzle and a whole new puzzle would be sent to replace it. When puzzle pieces are cut, they only fit perfectly and precisely in the one puzzle they were originally made for.
Celebrate when the pieces fit together.
Sometimes when our puzzle gets too hard, we need to step away from it for a little while. But, when the puzzle pieces fit together, are we celebrating that? Are we finding joy?
Celebrate the things that are worth celebrating!
“We can have joy in the difficult journey when we start with what is essential, look to the box top, and celebrate,” says Karen.
Life might be like a box of chocolates, but it’s also a lot like a jigsaw puzzle.
Photo Credit: First image graphic design by Charity Klicka; second image by Amy Koons.