What Do You Do When The Pieces of Your Life Don’t Fit?
I drop onto the couch and allow my tired body to sink into its cushions. It’s been a long week. I haven’t been home in five days and I allow my tired muscles to relax and de-stress. I lay there for an hour and catch up on one of my favorite TV shows. I force myself to get off the couch, so I can take a shower and get ready for bed.
I’m in a busy season of my life right now. I’m traveling a lot for work, I’m coaching my daughter’s softball team while helping out with another softball team. I’m coaching and training my son, Ryan, to be a better runner, I’m training to run a marathon, and trying to support and manage my home. I’m tired and out of balance at the moment. I recognize I’m in a busy season and I need to focus, but sometimes loved ones can get lost in those busy seasons.
I swing by my son, Adrian’s, room for a visit and see how his independent study project is going for school. I find Adrian resting on his bed and fiddling with his iPad. “How’s it going, Adrian?”
“Fine.” Adrian responds.
“How’s it coming with your project?” I inquire. Adrian motions to a big trash bag on the floor. I open it and find several smaller plastic bags inside. I pull one of them out to examine its contents. I find a series of oddly shaped foam board pieces.
“What’s this?” I ask Adrian.
“They’re pieces to make my buildings.” Adrian looks back at me.
“Oh.” I whisper as I hold one of the pieces in my hand. It has jagged edges and rests awkwardly on my fingers. I try to fit the pieces together, but they don’t fit properly. I pull out the other bags and find similar pieces in each bag.
“Adrian, what are you doing with all these foam board pieces?”
“I’m going to build a replica model of the United States Military Academy campus, Dad.” Adrian looks back at me.
My heart sinks as I examine the pieces. There are at least a dozen bags filled with pieces of foam board that were cut by the hands of my ten year old son. My mom said he spent hours cutting them out over the weekend while I was gone. I try to put some of the pieces together, but it becomes very apparent that none of them will fit.
“When is this project due again, Adrian?” I look over at him.
“This Wednesday, Dad.”
“That’s in three days!” I respond in surprise.
“I told you about this weeks ago, Dad.”
I sigh and put the oddly shaped pieces back into the bags. “Adrian, there’s no way you can complete this project in time.”
Tears well up in Adrian’s eyes. He tries to hold them back and buries his face into his hands.
“Why did you cut all these pieces out on your own, Adrian? They don’t fit, it’s not going to work.” I ask in frustration.
“I didn’t know what else to do, Dad.” Adrian responds trying to hold back his sobs. He looks over at me with the tears running down his cheeks. I can see the frustration and despair in his eyes.
I can feel the pain of guilt wash over me. I’ve been too busy for him. I brushed him off weeks before when he tried to approach me about his project. When I finally did speak to him about it, I gave him ideas for his project that I knew would be easier, so it wouldn’t inconvenience me when I helped him.
Adrian wanted more. He didn’t want to do something easy. He wanted a challenge and he wanted to do something special for his project, so he attempted it on his own without my help and all he got were dozens of foam board pieces that didn’t fit together. Adrian had the idea of a beautiful model in his head, but simply could not recreate his vision with his own hands. He needed help. He needed my help and I was not there to support him.
How often do the pieces of your life don’t fit? You do your best to lean on your own understanding and try to leverage your own skills to elevate your life, your career, and your relationships only to find yourself depressed and frustrated when things don’t work out.
Do people let you down? Do you feel abandoned by someone close to you? Have you left someone behind that needs your help?
I went to bed frustrated after I met with my son with his failing project dominating my thoughts. The next day, I sat down with Adrian and we discussed alternatives for his project. We settled on a Power Point presentation. I cleared my schedule that evening and we spent the next several hours outlining and then preparing his presentation. We then spent the next few days practicing it to make sure his timing was perfect and he had the confidence to present it to his 4th grade class.
Adrian’s presentation was a hit with his class and he was very proud of it. It took some time, communication, and effort, but Adrian and I finally put the “pieces” back together. The project was much different than what Adrian previously imagined, but in the end it came out better, once we became aligned as a team and reset our expectations.
Are you frustrated with some area of your life? We all experience a moment in our lives when we realize that something we are doing is just not working. It’s devastating and hard to let go, but many times letting go is what we must do in order to find the right pieces to rebuild an area in our lives.
It’s okay when we discover pieces of our lives that no longer fit and it’s acceptable to ask for help. It’s fine to start over or take a new path, that’s just life. What’s not okay is to try and force something that no longer works. What area of your life is frustrating you right now? Take stock in it and discard the pieces that no longer fit. Replace them with pieces that make sense and will make your life better. It’s hard now, but in the end you’ll find that life has bigger blessings waiting for you if you just gain the courage to let go.