Puzzle Pieces

Today, Waverly was playing with puzzles. I mentioned earlier she is gaining an affinity for them, and I'm happy to say that, several months later, she is becoming quite good. (There's a proud father moment for you.) Anyway, today she pulled out a Minnie Mouse puzzle and started at it, but only with a few pieces out of the bag.

"Daddy, I need help!" she kept saying, trying to force together the three pieces she had pulled out.

"You need to dump all the pieces," I said more than once, which she promptly ignored...more than once.

And again, as in other seemingly mundane instances of fatherhood, something profound was illustrated before me. She couldn't make the puzzle work without all the pieces, and certainly not with only a few. Of course she couldn't!

Now imagine those pieces are excerpts of knowledge and experience -- maturity. How many of you, in your youth, said or did things you regret, having acted dogmatically on principles you thought were true about the world? Or maybe you weren't entirely wrong about your convictions, but just didn't have the whole picture yet, resulting in an embarrassing act, or possibly even a detrimental one?

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)

A friend brought up this verse in trying to illustrate this same point to me a few days ago, and he is spot-on. When we are acting on just a few "puzzle pieces," it takes time and experience -- maturity -- to gain the rest, to build the whole picture. And often times, once we get the whole picture together (or a more-complete view, because none of us sees "everything"), love is the overarching principle that brings it all together.

I'm not advocating for ignore principles, or neglecting to act on them, but rather beckoning us all to slow down in our processing. Humbly admit you don't know everything now (just as I don't know everything now, even writing this "advice" to you), and accept new information, even if it challenges what you believe is true. Maybe you are right, or maybe not. But living with this humility is a good first step in letting love permeate our steps.