Pieces in a Puzzle

DISCLAIMER: This post is a bit philosophical. An area of life I am extremely unqualified in and have little interest. However, I am at the crossroads of another transition; therefore thinking more deeply about my life than usual.

Comparing life or aspects of life to a puzzle has probably been done a million times, but it’s a metaphor that holds true. I think about all the events, experiences, and people in my life and how they’ve enriched me, allowed me to grow, and ultimately expanded my “puzzle”. It’s as if each life event is a piece in an ongoing puzzle, each experience slowly adding to the beauty and complexity of a life. As human being (and planning obsessed, borderline OCD human being), it’s easy to try and fit puzzle pieces together. I think I know what’s best for me and which new place or job or school I’m going to next. While just like putting together a puzzle requires some planning and effort, we also can’t force a puzzle piece to fit, it will look odd and eventually ruin the image. Sometimes, finding the right piece is easy. The first one we grab locks in place perfectly. But more often, it takes piece after piece of careful fitting before the right piece is found. We think we know the color scheme and shape, but so frequently the right piece is surprising until we see the whole picture.

The last two years of my life were not a time of effortlessly finding the next puzzle piece, as much as I tried every single application that might be the right “fit”. Instead it was a time of learning to be patient and enjoy the pieces of life that were already fitting together rather than looking forward to completing the picture. I never would have guessed that I would spend a year teaching English in South Korea after laboring over an engineering degree, I might have guessed that I would spend five months in Uganda, but in no way could I plan the people I would meet and how it would change my life. Even my OCD grad school search was a period of waiting for the perfect fit. No matter how much I planned, stressed, and obsessed, I couldn’t force my acceptance or scholarship offer.

Yet all of my waiting and random unplanned adventures have only made my unfinished puzzle more colorful and rich. I can’t imagine life without the wonderful people I met in Korea, I can’t imagine life without my Ugandan experience. God is the ultimate puzzle maker, He knows exactly how all the pieces will fit one step at a time, and He knows exactly how the finished product will turn out. While, I will probably never completely stop planning and obsessing, I am grateful for how all the pieces have fallen together in ways I could never plan, and I am grateful for how each “piece” or experience has shaped who I am.

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