“It doesn’t fit!” she yelled. Frustration had overcome my child. She had begun the puzzle full of confidence. If her older siblings could put it together, surely her 3-year-old hands could master the task.
Sicily jammed the piece into the space she wanted it to fit into, only to face disappointment again. “Mom! Help me!”
But she didn’t want my help. I offered the piece that I knew would fit and she shoved it away, determined to make the puzzle submit to her will.
I lined up several pieces that would fit together, conveniently close to one another, and said nothing. She asked for help again.
“Try this one,” I said, and she found success. “I did it!” she cried, delighted with herself and completely oblivious to the concept that I had in any way assisted her. Flush with her new skill, she went back to the original piece and resumed trying to cram it into a new space it would never occupy.
After a moment, she flung the piece across the room. “I can’t do it!” she wailed, and she pushed the pieces away from her. Drama comes easily to this one.
I tried to comfort her, but she wanted nothing of it. It was time to wallow in her despair, and she embraced this new task wholeheartedly.
“Such a simple childish act,” I thought, “and how many times have I done the same thing?”
“Help me, God,” I cry out, but I am so busy cramming the piece of my choosing into the puzzle that I can’t see the more appropriate option handed to me.
“I can’t do it!” I yell, and I look past the hand that shows me an alternative solution.
In that moment where I do pay attention to the help that is offered, I am–painfully–just as likely as my 3-year-old to take delight in my own wisdom and insight as I forge ahead, trying once again to find a place for the piece in my hand that I am determined to fit into the picture I’m designing.
The problem with puzzles is this: We don’t create the picture. The image is there for us to re-assemble, but we have no control over where the pieces belong. The designer of the puzzle has determined how the parts go together to make something beautiful. All the cramming and manipulating in the world won’t rearrange the designer’s plan.
Next time you look for a solution, ask yourself if you are searching to complete the puzzle or insisting that the pieces will fit in a pattern of your own design.