Monday, July 5, 2010

Life is a Jig-Saw Puzzle

When I made the initial decision to join the Mormon Church back in 1972, I found it helpful to use the metaphor of a Jig-Saw Puzzle to understand the basis for this decision, and to explain it to others. The idea was that Life presented me with a huge array of pieces from a complex Jig-Saw Puzzle, and the challenge was to piece these together in order to figure out what the picture was, or what Life was all about. Using the various things the Church taught and presented to me I earnestly set about putting various pieces together, and it seemed that the picture that was emerging was of the truthfulness of the Church and its teachings.

True, I realized that there were many, many pieces that were still lying around which I couldn’t see how to connect to anything else, various sections of the puzzle which seemed unlike other sections, etc. But it seemed that I could imagine what the completed puzzle would look like on the basis of what I had thus far assembled, and that seemed sufficient to move forward. So I took a leap of faith, with the hope that as time went on, I would be able to figure out where the various loose pieces would fit in, how to join together the disparate sections I had already pieced together, and that I would finally, someday, understand it all, and the final completed picture would be seen.

In retrospect, this general approach still seems fairly reasonable, but as the saying goes, ‘the devil is in the details.’ Despite my best efforts, earnestly striving to make sense of the complicated array of pieces and puzzle sections, my initial hope was in vain. I guess at least two things occurred:
  1. I pieced together a number of the previously loose and separate pieces, and found images emerging that are intrinsically incompatible with the other sections I had put together, and upon which I had based my conclusions about the final picture.
  2. I also made a much more careful and detailed examination of the pieces I had previously joined together, and found small spaces and other inconsistencies between those pieces, and realized that they didn’t really fit precisely. In a complex puzzle, it is quite easy to gently force two pieces together that “almost” fit, but which in fact are not the correct match. Even though you’re reluctant to go back and start over, if you’re wanting to do it right, you realize you must then separate them, and continue looking for ones that are a more perfect match.

So as I have continued working on the puzzle, the pieces have been rearranged, and different images emerge, such that I have had to acknowledge that I was previously mistaken about the final picture I thought I saw in the Jig-Saw puzzle. The picture I now see is dramatically more complex, with a richer spectrum of shades and textures than I had imagined possible, and more intriguingly beautiful. The challenge of life is to put together as many pieces as possible, as accurately as possible, and try to understand just what the puzzle is all about.


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