Picking Up the Pieces

At church last Sunday during worship, I noticed from a distance a little boy, about 2 years old, attempt to carry a stack of large jigsaw pieces from one side of the hall to the other. So large and numerous were the pieces that he needed both hands to hold them against his chest. Unfortunately, he only got so far before he dropped a piece. He stopped, looked down at it and without a second thought bent down to try and pick it up. Of course, the inevitable happened. Another piece and then another started slipping out of his grasp and falling to the floor. Ultimately, he realised what was happening and let the rest go. He gave up on his original mission and, planting his bottom on the floor next to the messy pile, he had a little think before trying to sort out the puzzle laid before him.

It struck me at that point how sometimes we try, metaphorically, to carry too much stuff. The more we take on, the harder it becomes actually to hold on to it all … but my goodness, we try! Stretching from one thing to another, doing our best to keep those dishes spinning in the air, the jigsaw pieces from falling (sorry, too many metaphors). We say yes, more often than we say no. We take on responsibilities that aren’t ours to own. We raise the level of expectation on ourselves when no one else around us is suggesting we do such a thing. We perform a kind of jerky mental dance, twisting our capacities into all sorts of different poses so that nothing hits the deck. If we can help it, nothing will escape our grasp, though we eventually we acknowledge some potential losses. Casualties in the war of ‘so much to do and so little time.’ However, “no, one is left behind,” as they say, so we try to pick up what has fallen, again … and again.

I started this tale with a little boy and his jigsaw pieces and the lesson we can learn. That lesson being, in my thinking at least, is sometimes you’ve just got to let go. There is nothing left to do but watch as the remainder of the pieces fall. But has anyone ever said this was a bad thing? Letting go of it all, so that you can correctly evaluate what needs to go where, isn’t allowed?

Jigsaw boy saw the inevitably of his struggle and in his 2-year-old wisdom, thought it best, in the end, to sit and look, and assess.

And that is the key to helping us out if we find ourselves in this particular scenario. It is good to take stock, reassess, work out what is needed and sort out what is not a responsibility we need to take on, or a project we don’t need a hand in. In this way, we can help avoid ‘burnout’. In the Bible, Jesus Himself encourages us to come to Him with heavy burdens. He invites us to join our life with His and find rest and refreshment.

What I love the most about Jesus’s words, is the reality of life He acknowledges. It’s not always going to smell of roses and perfume (sorry, more metaphors!) Sometimes things are going to feel tricky and too much to manage, but Christ is in it all with us. If only we’re willing to acknowledge the union that He offers. If we take what He is offering, we will find rest, despite the work. Peace, despite the outward turmoil, and refreshment when we feel we are running on empty.

Oh, and the little boy from that Sunday at church? You may be wondering if he ever got that jigsaw puzzle done? In the end, he just mainly looked at it for a bit, before finding something else more interesting to get involved with elsewhere. I think his dad cleared up the mess in the end, and maybe there’s a something to think about in that too!

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