Puzzle Pieces

Other than band, it is safe to say my favorite subject in school was algebra.  I love algebra.  I like solving variable problems with a definite and defined answer.  Equations excite me because you can work them backwards and forwards and always come up with a right or wrong answer–there’s no question, no grey area.  They can be simple or complex, but there’s a step-by-step process to the end result.

I’m a pretty analytical thinker.  I like to observe, read, absorb, and critically think and evaluate new things…well, anything really.  I am not a person that learns through group work or activity.  It drives me batty.  Give me a chance to wrap my mind around an idea or concept, then we can hash it out together, I’ll share my opinion, and likely even question and play devil’s advocate in the mix.  There are times when I don’t say much, but don’t misunderstand it for disinterest–I may just surprise you later with my passion in that arena.  That’s the introvert in me rearing its head.

Something I see the more I sit back and absorb is how life fits together.  It’s messy, it’s unpredictable, it’s random–but have you ever noticed how it all fits together in a beautifully wonderful package that we never could have orchestrated on our own?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the many different hats I wear…we joke around sometimes in our particular ministry that those in our position are jack of all trades and master of none.  I think jokingly in my mind that if I ever sat down to update my resume, it would be about ten pages long–no joke, the records of my professional development in all fields since completing my undergrad well over a decade ago fills a three inch binder.  I may not have multiple advanced degrees, but I have taken the time to pursue and chase down learning opportunities that fulfill the needs of my ministry, my interests and passions, and what’s important to me.  The fact they don’t add up to additional pieces of paper is rather inconsequential to me.  I think sometimes about a masters program…but I can’t decide what I want to cook most days, trying to make the decision between my desired programs for an MBA, MSW, or MDiv is impossible…I waver on that on a daily basis, and I’m not investing the time and effort for something I’m not totally sold on.

I could have never in my life pictured to be where I am and doing what I do…not on a bet.  Twenty years ago, the picture unequivocally showed that I was aiming for the goal of being a high school band director.  Where I am now?  No where on that radar.  When I look at life in the rearview mirror, it makes me laugh a little bit that in the same day I can be a friend working out at the gym, to dispensing crisis assistance, to providing pastoral counsel, to addressing a boardroom of business professionals, and ending that day laughing with friends or acquaintances over a meal, (while they partake in) happy hour, or just sitting around talking mindlessly in my living room or theirs for hours on end.  (Well, that last part is more a pipe dream…my inept social skills and irrational fear of rejection cause me to not be the pursuer of those situations.  Working on that fear, not to mention the arrogance in wishing others would come to me)

When I look at my calendar, it appears so schizophrenic that I sometimes feel like I go in so many different directions, I question if I am making a difference in any one area.  This is where my faith has to fill in the gaps.  God’s got bigger plans than me.  All of the different avenues of service I am involved in, all of the different groups and arenas that I participate, they really do interconnect.  How does counseling a single mother on the necessary resources to assist her in the IEP process to fight for her child’s rights, helping her to realize she’s not alone, and providing her the spiritual support she needs in that situation relate to speaking to a room of professionals on the impact of networking resources in the preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation phases of disaster management?  On paper, they don’t to our human eyes.

As I’ve been really thinking on this lately, I’ve decided they’re all just puzzle pieces–life isn’t my pretty algebraic equation.  We all have parts of the puzzle, just different pieces and different numbers of pieces.  They are all important to creating the picture.  I liken the complete picture to God’s plan for each of our lives–it’s a beautiful creation, but we can’t see the end result.  We take those methodical steps to solving the puzzle…figuring out how the pieces fit, building the frame first, and then filling in the sections that make sense.  And then one day the complete picture appears.  For believers, we understand that this is not revealed until we see Jesus face to face, and that’s okay.  But the point remains is that those parts of us, those things that don’t seemingly relate, all fit together for the most radiant of purposes that God has created for each and every one of us as individuals.  I don’t know what my finished puzzle looks like, but right now, I’m finding great joy in the piecing and encouragement that comes from it.  The end result is still veiled from my human eyes, I’m content with that in this season, because I know from it all, however wacky or insane it seems to me or others, there’s hope.

Hope.  I keep coming back to that concept lately…perhaps more on that soon?

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