Of course you have heard the comment “Don’t sweat the small stuff” before.


I am trying to apply that exhortation, but it is hard.


sick man mask pestilenceCOVID-19 has affected millions. At this point, thousands are infected and the pandemic is causing death and suffering worldwide. These are not the only casualties. Voluntary isolation, fear, desperation, and unwarranted criticism are just a few of realities of our day. Are you feeling it? 


So I have an admission to make. It is really hard to isolate myself at home for an extended period of time. We are making well enough off, but the circumstances are difficult nonetheless. It is like a dramatic mystery with no immediate solution. The situation is similar to the big puzzle lying on our dining room table. I can’t make out the numerous pieces that seem to have absolutely no relation to one another. I pick up the shapes but lay most of them down again after I realize that I cannot find the places to put them. I try using the colors as well, but it is all for naught. I can’t make anything of it. The box shows a picture of what the puzzle is supposed to eventually look like. Still, I can only hope that we can achieve that result because none of us can see it yet.


The edges and corners naturally find their place first, but then I struggle to make any sense of the other pieces. I look and look but nothing. So I start thinking that maybe some pieces have been misplaced or are altogether lost. Yeah, that’s it; no wonder I am struggling! But then a small color or fragment of the picture jumps out and I gleefully position a piece in its correct place. It feels good to finally make the connection. And one more bit of progress leads to the success I am seeking. It is a small change in color or an almost imperceptible section of the picture that provides the detail needed to find the home for each small piece. All pieces have a purpose. Every small hint provides enough detail to progress toward the solution. The puzzle is still challenging. Most of it makes no sense to me at all, but somehow I know that if I persist and get help when needed, the solution is possible and great joy and satisfaction waits in the wings for me when I finish. I can do it—one piece at a time.


In the right time and place, it will all fit together.


So puzzles are a good way to pass the time and stay involved in family activities when isolation is necessary. But to me the greater realization is that the prevalent puzzles of life are doable, too. Just as we hope for a better future and make sense of the hysteria all around us, we long for a solution and expect a better day when the seemingly puzzling aspects of life will all fit together perfectly. This article is really not specifically about a board games or puzzles strewn out on the table or around the house to help us pass time. Instead the better message is hope in a method that ensures success and peace amid strife and difficulty. When faced with obstacles that seem overwhelming at the time, our efforts are what really matters. With the gospel of Jesus Christ when our intent is all we can offer, even that is enough.


Every experience has a purpose, and though we can’t see the end result, and struggles make no sense to us at the time, we pursue our ambitions moving forward with courage and hope that it will all work out in the end.


In the meantime, here are a few things you can do:


1) Write down your feelings during this unique time and capture the sentiments and emotions you are feeling. 

2) Your words will become a record for your posterity (as my wife would say), and pondering these events will enable you to capture meaning in them.


So your Facebook post didn’t get 1000 likes? Big deal. Your lyrical masterpiece didn’t go platinum? There will be other achievements. And the semester-long paper didn’t receive top honors. Well, you will get other chances.


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To read more of Walter’s articles, click here.

The thing is that you only control certain aspects of life and some results are out of your control. But your decisions? You have total mastery over them for good or for bad, and what you decide to do today makes all the difference tomorrow.


And although it has now passed, that is what Easter is all about.


We are not alone and even our feeble efforts can have significant value because they lead to a change of heart and mind, and they are joined to the sublime work of God, and that will never fail.


We will all live again because of Him.


You decide the significance of your choices. Remember that.


Hear Him!


About Walter Penning
In 1989, Walter Penning formed a consultancy based in Salt Lake City and empowered his clients by streamlining processes and building a loyal, lifetime customer base with great customer service. His true passion is found in his family. He says the best decision he ever made was to marry his sweetheart and have children. The wonderful family she has given him and her constant love, support, and patience amid life's challenges is his panacea.

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