Happy birthday, Grandma! We miss you. Your life still inspires to this day!
Walking into my Grandma’s bedroom, there were 3 constants I could always count on.
- A freshly-made bed that could bounce a penny (and you NEVER sat on it).
- A small baby doll in a white lace dress propped against her pillows.
- Stacks of tin pie crust pans filled with jigsaw puzzle pieces.
My Grandma loved puzzles – the 1,000 piece variety! She said they kept her brain young and active.
Seemed like a lot of work for an 85+ year old. One. thousand. puzzle pieces! So many options to choose from. For one scene, a third of the puzzle was covered in clouds and blue skies. Other puzzle boxes displayed scenes from grassy fields or ocean waves.
Each box told a beautiful story – a story that requires one to try and fail many times till the pieces all fall in place.
Reminds me of life.
To Whom Much is Given, Much is Stressful?
For many, life would be easier if it came in a 2-piece puzzle – just snap those 2 pieces together and BOOM! Life is all figured out.
But, God has graciously given many of us not just 1 gift, but an arsenal of gift and talent puzzle pieces. For example, not only can you write, sing, or cook, but you can act, dance, draw, manage, play an instrument, organize, fix stuff – the list goes on!
And, when you’re actually good at all or most of your gifts, you may find yourself overwhelmed and stuck – not knowing which gift or talent to pour energy into and when.
This stagnation and frustration drives some to depression or withdrawal. It can keep you from manifesting God’s picture of purpose and destiny for your life.
Perhaps grandma’s strategy for tackling a plethora of possibilities will help. Let’s take a look.
Thomasina’s 8 Tactics for Tackling Life’s Puzzle
Establish Your Boundaries.
The first move Grandma would make in tackling her puzzles was to pick out all of the border pieces. These pieces were easy to identify, and there were fewer pieces with solid edges.
As an Author and Finisher, God has already designed the boundaries for your purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). Know where your lines are drawn, and be sure not to mix in any pieces from someone else’s puzzle. Every gift and ability known to man does not fit with your purpose.
Identify Which Gifts Are Not Like the Others.
Next, Grandma would group the puzzle pieces together by color. In doing so, the big, overwhelming picture was cut down to the green grass pieces, the blue sky pieces…
See which of your gifts complement each other. Do any gifts fall under the same category, e.g. sports or entertainment? Could you receive training for multiple gifts at the same school? Take note of your gifts’ similarities and where they overlap.
Secure a Safe Place to Keep Your Gifts
Here’s where the tin pie trays come in. After sorting the puzzle pieces by color, Grandma would place each group in its own holding tray for safe-keeping.
As you commit your journey to God, have you written down the vision for your life in an orderly fashion (Habakkuk 2:2)? Do you have a go-to place where you can review your goals and purpose? Do you have a “safe” friend or loved one who can hold you accountable and cover your dreams in prayer? You may not have it all figured out, but at least you know where all the pieces are neatly stored and who’s helping you keep it together.
Dive In and Begin – Just Don’t Force It!
Now, it’s time to pick up a tin tray and start somewhere, anywhere.
She trusted the box came with the right amount of pieces. She knew that each piece had a match, and forcing a mismatch would only hurt the picture in the long-run.
Grandma didn’t worry about which puzzle piece she started with. She knew that each piece had to be touched at some point, and the picture on the box wasn’t going to put itself together.
Neither will your life portrait. There’s a time to write a vision, and a time to WORK the vision. Don’t try to force connections with people or places that don’t match your purpose. Don’t worry yourself with “what if I grab the wrong piece”. Just start moving towards your goals and enjoy the process as much as you’ll enjoy the destination.
Focus on the Little Things, Reference the Big Picture
As Grandma worked, there were moments where she was heads-down in her pie tin; other times, she’d grab the puzzle box, look, then placed it back off to the side.
Know when to focus on the little things, and when to reference the big picture. There’s a time to study the intricacies of your gifts, and a time to reference your overall purpose to make sure you’re on the right track. Be careful, though. Studying the big picture too long will overwhelm you. But, trusting God’s big picture plan for your gifts will always bring you peace.
Celebrate the Small Victories
No, the entire picture is not complete, but Grandma was so proud when “the grass” was done or “the sky” was in place. She never had to look back at those pieces – it was a finished piece of the larger picture.
As you put life together, celebrate the small wins. Give thanks when you’ve learned how to be effective in one area of your gifts, and keep growing. Note the patterns, take every lesson with you as you continue your journey.
Share your testimonies of the small victories with others. What may be a small win to you may be a huge deal to someone else.
Connect the Differences
Before long, Grandma could connect the “grass” to the “barn” to the ‘“sky”, and set empty tin pie trays off to the side.
Each one of your gifts may connect to different people for a different purpose. Discover how your unique abilities connect with each other to serve God’s purpose – in different venues, communities, and seasons of life. One gift may open the door for you to use an entirely different aspect of yourself. Be open to God’s plans that you didn’t even know were connected.
Rest, Renew, Rediscover
When the puzzle is complete, Grandma would rest and proudly let it sit on her table for weeks.
Before long, you’d find her scoping out her next puzzle box.
As long as we have breath, there’s something to learn and room for growth. Show gratitude for God’s beautiful portrait coming together for your life. When the season of that portrait changes, prepare yourself to rediscover the abundance of God – who always takes us from glory to glory for His glory (Colossians 3:23)
So, What’s the Play Call?
Keeping going, one piece of life at a time.
I hope at least one of these strategies helps you to re-think about your gifts, talents, and purpose, and how God plans to use you. Funny thing is, the Master Artist has connected every life portrait with another. We are all putting the pieces together, individually and collectively!