As I sat on the stand as the substitute chorister, I scanned faces of the ward members, pausing at each sister. How is she? What were her struggles this week? Is her relationship with the Savior stronger this week than last week?
I marveled at how different each of them was. Even the multi-generational women sitting next to each other had such diverse gifts.
A Puzzle Vision
I have an innate desire for all of them to feel like a part of the whole. Sometimes, I struggle with how to accomplish that when everyone is so different–personalities, likes/dislikes, family shape and size, jobs/no jobs, cultural and language differences, et cetera.
I don’t want them to be the same or feel the same, I want to embrace each sister’s diversity and be unified as a sisterhood.
Suddenly a vision consumed my mind. I saw a gigantic table with a large puzzle box. The person at the table opened the box and dumped the pieces onto the table until it was filled with puzzle pieces. The person began taking each piece, turning it right side up, separating out the edges, coordinating pieces by color.
A couple pieces came joined together out of the box. Some pieces were the same color but had really different edges. Several pieces looked almost identical to each other except for very slight differences. Some pieces sat alone, apparently totally different from the other pieces in every aspect.
The person at the table began fitting puzzle pieces together after examining each piece carefully, noting the unique nuances and shape and finding its perfect spot in the puzzle. Pieces linked together on the outer edges, a critical component to every puzzle. Pieces linked together in the center and became a foundation to connect other similar pieces together.
Some pieces looked like they could link up in multiple spots. The puzzler looked puzzled when the piece didn’t fit together as expected.
Putting the puzzle together clarified the totally unique pieces’ critical role of tying two seemingly unrelated sections together. Those pieces created the continuity of the puzzle.
As the puzzle neared completion, the puzzler scrambled to find missing pieces. Looking under the puzzle box and on the floor yielded the rogue pieces that snapped perfectly into their spots, completing the puzzle.
The sisters’ faces flashed before my eyes, each of them an integral piece of a gorgeous puzzle–joined with family pieces, on the edges pieces, in the middle pieces, the continuity pieces, and the lost but found pieces. Each unique piece’s purpose proved crucial to the overall design and completeness.
Members Being Many Are One
Paul taught the Corinthians the puzzle vision through the metaphor of a body. Each unique individual completes the ordinance that’s requisite for everyone to become part of that body. And each part of the body (Go mRNA and telomeres!) promotes vitality to the whole.
His words are so beautiful. As I read it, I see the puzzle creation. Again, each piece is unique and critical for the masterpiece.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.
And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.
And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.
Purpose in an Eternal Puzzle
The Lord says “this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” So if the plan is collective salvation, does it really matter if we are all unique? Is our uniqueness really part of some Divine master plan?
Yes! Because like Paul says, if we were all the same, where would the body be? I’m not sure how it works or why it ultimately matters, but I do like having two eyes, and a liver, and skin cells, and DNA, and a brain.
If we can see our differences in that metaphorical perspective, Heavenly Father’s ultimate purpose is clearer. Different talents and personalities accomplish different things. Different kinds of everything supplies the tools and needed experience for a host of spirit children with the gift of agency.
Just because we’re a particular piece of the puzzle doesn’t mean we have to stay in that “spot” indefinitely. If I’m a metaphorical edge piece and want to experience being a middle piece, I always have the choice to make that happen in my life. If I’m a lost piece ready to be found but no one has successfully found me, I can find myself through the Savior’s atonement and move back to the puzzle. Even though puzzle pieces are fixed, we are not.
No Waste and No Shortage
I love reading ancient stories of creation. Irrespective of the stories’ veracity, I love the visual contexts the ancients used to describe things otherwise inexplicable.
So in the context of purposeful uniqueness, consider Hugh Nibley’s paraphrasing a creation account from the Pistis Sophia, a 3rd or 4th century Coptic writing.
And so we have in the Pistis Sophia, continuing the Egyptian teachings, the picture of a constant remixing (kerasomos) going on in the universe in which old, worn-out, contaminated substances, the refuse (sorm) of worn-out worlds and kingdoms, is first thrown out on the scrap-heap and returned to chaos as “dead” matter, then melted down in a dissolving fire for many years, by which all the impurities are removed from it, and by which it is “improved,” and is ready to be “poured from one kind of body into another.”
This whole process by which souls as well as substances are “thrown back into the mixing” is under the supervision of Melchizedek, the great reprocessor, purifier, and preparer of worlds. He takes over the refuse of defunct worlds or souls, and under his supervision, five great Archons process (literally “knead”-ouoshm) it, separating out its different components, each one specializing in particular elements, whic
h they thus recombine in unique and original combinations so that no new world or soul is exactly like any other.
In this full-blown pleniarism there is no waste and no shortage: “If any were superfluous or any lacking, the whole body would suffer, for the worlds counterpoise one another like the elements of a single organism.” The worlds go on forever: “They come and come and cease not, they ever increase and are multiplied, yet are not brought to an end nor do they decrease.”
Our Eternal Heritage Is No Puzzle
God is not only our Ruler and Creator; He is also our Heavenly Father. All men and women are literally the sons and daughters of God. President Joseph F. Smith taught that “man, as a spirit, was begotten and born of heavenly parents, and reared to maturity in the eternal mansions of the Father, prior to coming upon the earth in a temporal [physical] body.”
No two puzzle pieces are the same and if the puzzle’s missing one piece, the whole puzzle suffers. The same is true if the piece defaces/devalues itself and its contribution.
The infinite and eternal Creator of light and life knows you! He is mindful of you. … He loves you not only for who you are this very day but also for the person of glory and light you have the potential and the desire to become. More than you could ever imagine, He wants you to achieve your destiny—to return to your heavenly home in honor.
There is a place and opportunity for everyone because the plan and puzzle is God’s and His mind and will created all things from the edges to the middles of the puzzles in our universe.
About Delisa Hargrove
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.