A PLACE IN THE PUZZLE

THIRTY DAYS OF THANKS AND GIVING

DAY 24: A PLACE IN THE PUZZLE

Do you fit in?

Good God no! I do not fit in! I’m physically super sized, socially sloppy, and clumsier than Ursula’s butt in a bump-n-jump. 

I love the little school district I work for. I’m “the” sub for the 8th-12th grade building… teachers call me “Sub Goddess”, students call me “Nazi Sub”. I don’t want to give out trade secrets, but the kids begin 8th grade a little scared of me. They don’t usually make eye contact until somewhere during their sophomore year. Today a teacher said I was “cool” in front of students. I chastised her for blowing my bluff.

Almost weekly, someone at Lamar High School will tell me, “Selby, you just fit right in around here.”

Let’s break that down…

I’m a substitute teacher.

I sit in somebody else’s desk everyday.

I’m not certified.

I don’t teach lessons.

I don’t have a syllabus.

I don’t have a roster… I do have students. Lots of them. All of them! I claim every little creature that walks those halls as mine and I really do love them fiercely (see what I did there?).

I’m a substitute teacher… I fill in but I don’t fit in.

I’m part of something though… our faculty that is a family and I am very, very fortunate to stand alongside and in the place of each and every one of them. 

I work and live and interact in a box of every shape and color of people puzzle pieces. I’ve got girlfriends and family friends and soul sisters and brothers and buddies from all ages and stages of life. They are at various distances from me, but each connection stretches to another until an image emerges. And each seemingly misfit piece of the puzzle has a friendship function:

The edges…

Straight and smooth, bordering and holding in the chaos of this world. 

The corner…

Fundamental for the foundation. Even the edges can’t conform to a complete image without the strength and square dependability of the corners.

The bold colorful pieces…

They scream, “Hey this is where I go! Hurry and put me in the picture!” Enthusiasm. Energy. Essential.

The blenders…

They are the hardest to conquer. They all look alike and it frustrates your patience until you slow down and look very closely and see their unique contribution that fits exactly where it is supposed to.

The crazy piece…

An atypical shape that has three or five edges and only one interlocks into the puzzle. You twist them and try them in every scenario and you give up on them and return to them and give up again… and suddenly you see it – that crazy piece shaped void in the picture and there is not a sweeter victory than filling it with that friend.

The question isn’t do you fit in – it’s HOW do you fit in? 

Are you an edge… Someone that brings order to the chaos?

Are you a corner… The strong foundation that provides stability for the big picture to build upon?

Are you bold and colorful… Energetically jumping in and kickstarting the image’s beauty?

Are you a blender… A quiet resolve that doesn’t demand attention but brings about the breathtaking background?

Are you crazy??!! Oh yes! Bring it! Do you, Boo, because we NEED you. We need the victory that only your cuckoo can claim.

I love puzzles. I’ve spent many therapeutic hours hovering over a jigsaw and bringing it all together, one interlocking piece at a time. I know this about puzzles – they are an epic fail if there is a missing piece. The beauty is blemished. The image is incomplete. I’m thankful for EVERY piece of the puzzle.

Do you fit in? You better believe you do. I mean it. You BETTER believe you do! Because, friend, you are part of a bigger picture. You are essential to the image. You may not have control over how you fit in, but it’s really not your call. Don’t deny yourself of the value God has placed on you because in doing that, you deny others the value of the beauty that is building. Bold or blending, corner or edge, enthusiastically nuts… you are a brushstroke that belongs in God’s big picture and you are created to fit in perfectly. I’m thankful for every piece of the puzzle and I give you a connection to its Creator…

“For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”

Psalm 139: 13-14a

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