Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Beautiful Testimony: Puzzles and Mosaics

A friend of mine once shared the following.  I understand why the puzzle idea he describes works for lots of people, but I love the idea of the mosaic.
I remember reading an article in the BYU alumni magazine that showed a gap between two points. Overlaid over this, were some puzzle pieces of a suspension bridge, but considerable portions of the puzzle were missing. Where the missing pieces had been there was a pencil drawing of the bridge.

The moral of the story is that even if I am can't fit all the pieces together right now, I can be confident that there is a "plan" that does fit all the pieces together.

I was unable to re-find the exact article but here is a similar description:
A Puzzle
Maybe another metaphor will help—that of an old jigsaw puzzle. The picture on the box is a broad, or holistic, view of some reality given by revelation; but the picture on our box is incomplete (see Article of Faith 9) and unclear in spots (see 1 Corinthians 13:12). Moreover, we are also missing several pieces of the puzzle, and we are not even sure how many are gone. Some of the pieces in our box do not appear to belong to our puzzle at first, and others quite definitely are strays. The picture on the box becomes clearer to us, however, with greater study of its details. The more closely we examine the available pieces and the more use we make of our minds, the more we are able to put together a few pieces of solid truth here and there. We may, of course, put some of the pieces in the wrong place initially, but as other pieces are put into position and as we continually refer to the picture on the lid, we are able to correct those errors. As our understanding of both the picture and the pieces progresses, we gain greater respect for what we know, for how it all fits together, and for what we yet do not know. http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publica ... &chapid=60

There is a similar metaphor of a tapestry that is sometimes used to explain adversity. The idea is that, from where we sit the jumbled, chaotic, and painful experiences are as the loose threads hanging on the underside of the tapestry. If we could but see from the Master’s perspective we would see how each thread fits into the master plan.  (The Hugh B. Brown illustration of the currant bush is a famous LDS equivalent.)

These ideas seem to indicate that there are not only plans for humanity as a whole but also individualized plans for each of us. When tragedy struck me, I pondered whether this was part of a grand design for my life based on this understanding. Was such a horrible event fated to bring about the maximum divine potential for everyone involved?

This idea did not resonate with my internal compass and I had to discard it. It didn’t seem to make sense that God would smash my beautiful glass and steel structure only to say, “You’ll thank me later.”

A Mosaic is different than a puzzle. A mosaic is a work of art. It may be from pieces of broken glass. It may be of puzzle pieces that were never intended to go together.

Elder Maxwell used the metaphor of a mosaic in one of his talks:

The finished mosaic of the history of the Restoration will be larger and more varied as more pieces of tile emerge, adjusting a sequence here or enlarging there a sector of our understanding. 
The fundamental outline is in place now, however. But history deals with imperfect people in process of time, whose imperfections produce refractions as the pure light of the gospel plays upon them. There may even be a few pieces of tile which, for the moment, do not seem to fit. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/ ... y?lang=eng

But it seems to me that he is still using them as puzzle pieces - that there is a master plan and eventually we will see clearly what now we can only see the outline of. He seems to use the refractions of gospel light through the "imperfect" pieces as a degradation of the "pure light of the gospel." I guess in his context he was talking of being tolerant of imperfection in our leaders – that there is beauty in divine diversity.

The following is an excerpt from a talk I gave some years ago.
I can’t speak with any degree of certainty about others, but as I analyze my testimony. I see that the fabric of it is literally made up of thousands of experiences that combine together to form a “witness.” I may not be able to remember most of the moments that have shaped my testimony. Still, all of these instances have left their mark and contributed to the whole. (see also Testimony as a Process, Elder Carlos Godoy November 2008) I am left with a tapestry in progress, adding line upon line and thread upon thread, to discover as Jesus said in the Pearl of Great Price – that all things testify of Him (Moses 6:63) Each little strand in its own way and the whole mosaic together bear record that He is the Christ.

Because our individual testimonies come through varied experiences and at different stages, it is to be expected that there should be some variation and nuance in how each of us experience the Restored Gospel. (See also Elder Donald L. Staheli of the Seventy Saturday, Oct. 9, 2004) Elder Uchdorf says, “A testimony is very personal and may be a little different for each of us, because everyone is a unique person.” [The Power of a Personal Testimony (Oct 2006)]

I feel like I am constructing a mosaic and not a puzzle. I am putting pieces together not because this is where they must fit but because how they look together “speaks to me.” What I'm building is not a map to "what's out there", it is a reflection of what is inside me.

I like the idea of “refractions.” I can imagine divine light shining through my personal mosaic. What a glorious sight. Mine is unique and special but it is still a valid expression of divine light. Sometimes I feel like a mosaic person in a puzzle church. Sometimes I feel like others are not comfortable with me because I might "color outside the lines" or put my pieces together in non-traditional ways. It doesn't matter that my mosaic doesn't look the same as someone else's.

I do not believe that God planned out the early death of our daughter. But I do believe that he came to me there, amidst my internal pile of crumpled metal and shattered glass to offer comfort. I believe that He is encouraging me to rebuild as a mosaic. This new structure has no architectural drawing and must be grown organically with heart and mind and spirit. I make no claim that my internal structure is perfect or that I will ever be done building it. I believe that God is willing to bless my mosaic and breathe into my imperfect structure His breath of life. God can work with the imperfections and fill the whole of it with the “pure light” of his immeasurable love. Like light flowing through a stain glass window, the human and the divine come together. This has become my chapel.

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