This afternoon I suffered through a Lego model for you. It was a sacrifice. Max knows how much I love Star Wars and Lego, so I tend to get some fun models from him for birthdays and Christmas.
I also love puzzles. When I was still at home, one thing we would do was to open a large puzzle on Christmas afternoon and spread it out on our large eight-foot dining room table. Dad was a little obsessive and taught me to be the same, I suppose. The first order of business was to flip all of the pieces so they were right side up and while we were doing that, pull out the edge pieces. The edge was assembled and the picture on the box set up so we could know what our goal was. Dad and I would argue about how to lay out the rest of the pieces, bringing colors together in a cluster, or aligning all the same shaped pieces. But, from the moment the box was open, the family spent time pulling those pieces into order, creating a beautiful picture.
All of the pieces seem random and inconsequential until they are joined to another piece. As each piece gets joined with those surrounding it, the picture is uncovered. My Lego Star Wars model is much the same and one day, as I thought about it, so are the relationships in my life.
When we are born, all of the relationships that are to come are loose and out there; creating their own links to the world (they probably don't have a big cat trying to scatter them, though). But, from the moment we begin interacting with people, those pieces begin coming together. First, it is just our immediate family. For me, I was the first child, so all I had in my life were my parents. But, since Dad was a pastor, I began building relationships pretty early. Mom always kidded me, telling me that even when I was in my playpen, I flirted with the Boy Scouts whose troop met in our home.
When I went to school, I started creating more relationships, so more pieces of the puzzle of my life began filling in. I remember only a few from the first two years of school. We moved just before my second grade year and I had an entirely new pile of pieces to sort out and shuffle into place.
What has been so fascinating is that the pieces of this puzzle are so adaptable as long as I am. We moved again, just before I entered Junior High. One of the biggest blessings of all those moves was that I learned how to meet new people; how to allow different puzzle pieces to sort themselves into my pile. I'd turn them right side up and figure out where they belonged on the table. Then, as the relationships were built; they all worked together to make my life into something very interesting.
I had friends, I had teachers. There were piano teachers and band directors, voice coaches and more piano teachers. My parents' friends became my friends; their children and I grew up together. I went to college and met more friends, then transferred to another college and met even more. I had more piano and voice coaches, more choir directors and professor. Each relationship became a glorious piece of the puzzle.
Pieces on one side of the puzzle don't necessarily touch each other, and that's alright, even though I really think that my friends would love each other. How could they not? I absolutely adore them!
At my sister's celebration party this summer, I sat down with two other couples whose only connection was that they knew me, but then one said to the other. "I saw you at an ice cream shop a few weeks ago. I wanted to yell and say hello, but figured you might not know me. I know you mostly through Diane's Facebook page." They'd met a couple of other times at parties Carol and I hosted, but never enough to become friends. However, from that moment ... those two pieces were connected and it made my puzzle even more interesting. From a two-dimensional image, a three-dimensional relationship had formed and I could only smile.
Some of the pieces are dark, they've been difficult times, but they are as much a part of the picture as those who bring flowers and sunshine, and vibrant colors. My life isn't always easy and some of the relationships I've built over the years weren't all that healthy, so I have to accept that they don't bring me joy, but they do bring me another dimension of life. Some of these pieces have gone dark as people I've loved have died. Some of those pieces representing people who have died, though have remained vibrant and filled with emotion as I recognize how much of my life they touched and how the changes that continue to occur in my life are because of their influence.
I finished the Lego model. Ewoks and stormtroopers and trees, oh my. Once I got all the pieces together, it was a pretty wonderful representation of a life puzzle. Everything is just a little bit different. When it started out, all of the pieces were chaotic and wild and differently shaped. As they came together, something beautiful happened ... a unified piece that makes sense. My life makes sense because of those relationships ... those that include you.
P.S. the reason it was a Lego model and not an actual puzzle? Can you imagine my frustration if a puzzle sat out on the table and TB decided that pieces were his to play with? Oh yes ... it would be a very bad day.