Sunday, November 21, 2010


Tyler's newest passion is puzzles. We own seven small cardboard puzzles, and he loves putting them all together, taking them all apart, then putting them all together. (Then taking them all apart, then putting them all together.)

Lately, when dinner is ready, we have to pull Tyler away from the puzzles to get him to eat--even when the meal involves cheese, which, usually, is like offering gold to a pawn broker. But even when some sort of cheesy goodness is waiting for Tyler a mere ten feet away in the kitchen, Tyler chooses puzzles.

As he works hard, pushing pieces into their correct spots, his tongue inches out of his mouth just a bit. He makes very, very small grunting sounds--the way you'd expect an ant to sound if you could configure a microscopic microphone and attach it gently and carefully to the little ant's facial component.

Tyler works hard at it. And when he is pushing with all his might for a piece to squeeze into a spot where it just doesn't belong, what do I do?

I desperately want to reach over, take his hand, and help him drag the puzzle to where it will fit seamlessly into place, and we can all take a deep sigh of peace.

And I'll comfess, once or twice I have performed this unwise deed. But mostly, I sit through it, coaching him, telling him what he can try, and saying things like, You can do it, Tyler! Keep trying it...almost there, son, keep going!

But it's hard for me. I want to solve the problem for him, and quickly. But by pushing the piece in place, I'm only short circuiting his own ability to work hard at something, and to be able to feel the joy that comes in "getting it"--or, alternately, the frustration that can mount when "getting it" doesn't come easy.

As I watch Tyler work on his puzzles, I can see his confidence grow. I watch the recognition that lights up his face when he sees that he has misplaced a piece, and the glimmer that dances across his eyes when he spots its rightful niche. 

And how many times, in my own life, do I wish there were someone bigger than me--someone older, wiser, smarter, more experienced, more anything--who could come along, reach down, and grab my hand to repostion a puzzle piece with which I am struggling?

How often I wish God would simply say to me, Okay, Lukey-Lukerson, step back away from the puzzle. Grab a coffee, and let me place the pieces in their proper places, quickly and efficiently.

(I don't know why God calls me Lukey-Lukerson in my head. You'll have to ask Him about that.)

How I wish!

But I realize that were someone else to configure the puzzle for me, I would stay the same--exactly as I am now. And the next puzzle I face, I'd face it with the same sense of frustration, discouragement, and need that I face it with today.

Instead, I'd rather like to think that God's going to let me keep working on the puzzles in my path, encouraging me all the while, Lukey-Lukerson, you can do it. Keep at it, son, keep trying.

Now, if there were some sort of chessy goodness awaiting me at the other end of a particularly difficult puzzle, then, man, now we're talking.