Playing My Part

I’ve never been good at puzzles.  But, I’ve told you that before.  I guess the visual acuity may be at fault, but really, it’s more a problem with perception (and maybe stubbornness).  I’m always trying to fit the square peg in the round hole, always “getting a bigger hammer” instead of finding the right part. 

I saw a little of myself in the third grandchild some time ago, as she worked on a puzzle.  As I sat and assisted with the jumbo pieces (the only kind I’m borderline competent at), she kept trying to pound the pieces together.  Despite evidence to the contrary, she was convinced that any piece could be made to fit in any spot.  It took a little sleight-of-hand to get the correct pieces in front of her without letting her see that I was removing the ones she had placed down, ready to force the bewildering tabs into the perplexing holes.  I for one, understand the problem completely and would readily advise that all the puzzles in the house be destroyed, if it weren’t for her grandmother hovering nearby.  I live in a puzzle milieu, surrounded by the confusing contrivances, and I’m not likely to escape them soon.  Also, the children love them, so I may have to tolerate them; may even have to participate in the madness occasionally.

On a different day, I again saw myself briefly in the youngest girl, as we built a tower of plastic interlocking blocks together.  These are toys from our children’s early years, still surviving and still being loved by young children almost thirty years from their first appearance.  Something like giant Legos, they  have two tenons side by side on top which go into the matching receivers on the lower side of the next block up.  The sweet little girl understood the basic concept; she just lacked the engineering theory to understand the fit and finish.  Because of this, she consistently attempted to connect either the tenons to the tenons, or vice versa.  After endeavoring unsuccessfully to demonstrate and instruct in the proper method of construction, I found it easier to use a similar sleight-of-hand as with the puzzle to turn them around as she pushed them together.

On a Sunday afternoon nearly a year ago, as I was privileged to stand in terror before a group of kids at church, the Lovely Lady assisted as I demonstrated this principle once more.  I stood with the clarinet, she with her flute, and we told the children of her desire to play clarinet music, instead of flute music.  As they listened with increasing distaste, we both played the instruments using the same music.  Soon, many were covering their ears, while others grimaced and still others looked at each other exclaiming at the awful cacophony.  The two similar sized and shaped instruments are not tuned to the same pitch, making it essential that they use different music from which to play.  Like the puzzle pieces and the building blocks, the similarities are deceiving.  They are not designed to perform the same part, nor can they successfully be made to do so.

Well, a fine lesson for children, you may say, but what has that to do with us as adults?  I’m not sure about you, but I’ve made a lifetime avocation of attempting to fit different pieces into the same holes, both for myself and for others.  I’ve worked at jobs that were a horrible fit, as well as at one in particular which remains a perfect fit.  I tried to push my children into places that didn’t work for them, learning (slowly) that while they may have some of my features, they are very much their own persons, with their own ideas and vision.  I’ve felt the need to convince many within my voice to share my opinions on any number of matters, only to realize that I interact best with those who have come to their conclusions through their own experiences and intelligent discernment.

Does this mean that we can’t fit in with others who aren’t just like us, that we need to keep to folks who resemble ourselves? No, not at all!  The orchestra can only make its best music when all the divergent instruments, with their various shapes, methods of generating sound, and different keys, come together as a group, each playing their own part and not all reading the same notes.  The music is sweeter and fuller for having the amazing diversity, with each taking responsibility for their role in the whole.  The tower is built as the different parts fit together, but not at all, if like is placed next to like; the puzzle completes its beautiful picture as very different shapes meld into one large entity, each piece fitting with others next to it.

Just as the body is made up of many parts, so unlike that they would seem completely foreign if we weren’t so familiar with them, so our families, our communities, our churches are formulated.  Just look at the foot and then at the ear.  Do you see any resemblance?  But, if the ear doesn’t do its job, the foot takes us into dangerous situations, likely to achieve great harm to the whole body.  We need each other and every one of us is important to the whole.  Is that just some feel-good mumbo-jumbo; just me being maudlin?  No, it comes straight from the Bible and is borne out again and again in our experience.  Even in our faith, we have different gifts, different parts to play.

Find your part and play it.  Don’t play off of my music; it’s probably not in the right key for you.  But I’m hoping I can play in harmony with you.  It will sound much better that way.

“…so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.  If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”
(I Corinthians 12: 25, 26~New International Version)

“Where there is unity, there is always victory.”
(Publilius Syrus~Roman author~1st Century BC)

(Previously posted in April of 2011)

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