Just thought I would share this article that I wrote for my column in the Voices newsletter.
Putting a Jigsaw Puzzle Together
© 07/03/03 by Don Shetterly
Ok, a show of hands please – how many of you have put a jigsaw puzzle together? Ah, I see several of you have. So you will know first hand what I am talking about. And for those of you, who don’t know, when you get done reading this article, take a trip down to the store and buy one!
I actually bought one for my friend’s birthday, which was a little risky because I didn’t know how they would take this for a gift, but I thought it was a good idea and so I decided to take the chance. It turned out to be a very good idea but that isn’t the point of this article.
It was a 550-piece puzzle of a beautiful stormy sea with the waves crashing against the shore against the backdrop of a lighthouse. It really reminds me of a “safe and calm place” in the midst of stormy waters, a scene that really means a lot to my life.
Once the box was opened, we emptied all the pieces on to the table and at once we noticed that many of the pieces had very similar colors, which meant this was going to be challenging. However when faced with a challenge, you’ve got to figure out an action plan and then go for it which is exactly what we did. The very first thing we focused on was getting the pieces of the frame put together as once this was done, we could begin building all the pieces on the inside of the puzzle. Without the frame, it would have been a lot of fragmented parts here and there.
As the frame came together, we started to find groups of pieces that seemed to match each other and as the hours went, we soon found the pieces that actually fit together. The more pieces we could put together, the more we could find major groups of pieces that went together. As this continued, the various parts of the puzzle began to take shape inside the frame. Soon you could begin to make out one part, than another part and another until it started to resemble the picture on the box. With time, all of the pieces fell into place; even the pieces that seemed to fit more than one place in the puzzle. It wasn’t too long before every piece had found its place in the puzzle and the beautiful picture that resulted was just like the picture on the box.
As we completed this puzzle, I began to see the parallels between the activity and how healing takes place in our lives. At first we may just see ourselves as a bunch of tissues and muscles that resemble a human. We may just look like a box with a pretty picture that only the outside world sees. As you open up the box and dump the pieces out, it looks like one big mess of junk, just like in our lives when we first start to confront our traumatic pasts and begin down the road of healing. It looks like we are often times just a big bunch of pieces with nothing that fits together. However, something miraculously happens! We begin putting one piece with another piece and all of the sudden small parts of our life begin to form a picture. At that point, we might not be able to clearly see what the picture is, but we can see that there is something there. So we continue putting these groups of pieces together and as we do, our shapes and colors begin to take dimension. We begin to see a little more of the bigger picture. However, we still may not be able to see the big picture of our lives, but we are definitely well on our way. As we progress through our healing, our lives become less like a bunch of pieces sitting in a pile and more like a picture that shows who we are. With continued healing, we find more and more pieces that fit together and fill in the missing holes of our lives.
Even though the road ahead may seem very difficult right now, if you just keep trying and trying to put the pieces together, the picture will come together. The more you piece together or the more you heal, the clearer the picture will become. It does take time and it takes patience, but all you have to do is work with one piece at a time. The rest will take care of itself.