Last week my favorite thrift store had a sale, and I planned my day to accomodate a trip early in the day to case it out. Yes, I know this makes me look cheap, (scheduling around a sale, at the thrift store) so be it. So, we headed over with plans to stock up on puzzles. My son lives for a good puzzle, and the ones at the thrift store are the right price for me to provide him with many options, especially when they are half off. The hazard to these, and all of the used puzzles I’ve bought to help him fill his puzzling appetite, is missing pieces. There is no chance in this life I would ever sit there and count to see if there are in fact all 538 pieces necessary to complete the picture on the box. So I take my chances.
Sometimes the puzzles are complete when we get them, but then the kids lose a piece all by themselves while in process of completion. You take it on faith that the whole thing will come together when you start one of these puzzles. My son does them anyway.
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to listen to Robert Rees speak about faith. I clumsily typed as many notes as I could on my phone, trying to get down as much of the golden ideas and insights he rattled off. There was one particular idea that I really stuck with me that evening, rang true to my soul, and I’ve been ruminating on ever since.
We aren’t intended to operate on faith alone. Which is good new to those of us that struggle with it. D&C 88:118 recognizes that we don’t all have it, but provides an avenue to compensate and compliment: “As all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.” While faith is good it is strengthened by substantiation.
I know that’s true, because my faithful desire for answers to all the messiness and unanswered questions in my life are still unsated. I wonder about what to do with pieces that aren’t fitting, my faith doesn’t solve everything. God knows what I want, but wants more from me. Hence, God gave me a brain, with intention for me to use it.
Hugh B. Brown said, “We are not so much concerned with whether your thoughts are orthodox or heterodox as we are that you shall have thoughts.” I find that line quite relieving. In his remarks on faith, Rees pointed out we need to use both reason and creativity. God gave us both intentionally. Left brain and right. On that strain my mind jumped immediately to one of scripture stories I love best: the brother of Jared asking for light for the boats to cross the ocean. And instead of an simple solution in return for BoJ’s faithfulness, God asks him to use his brain, gives him some guidance and says come back with a good idea.
While God asking me for an idea sounds massive, I’m not unfamiliar with it. I’ve been there before. While God wants my faith, and also wants me to think. Jesus welcomes my reasoning and creativity, even as I am still mustering it. As in D&C 50:10 “And now come, saith the Lord, by the Spirit, and let us reason together, that ye may understand.” Reason is a verb as well as a noun, and this quote features the former. Reasoning is an active, engaging and reckoning process of logic and learning,just as creativity is to be of the soul and spirit. Boyd K. Packer made a case for it, and injected another key component when he said, “”Each of us must accommodate the mixture of reason and revelation in our lives. The gospel not only permits, but requires it.” When I have questions about church history or culture, struggle for direction with the transitory year I have been having, and how to be the wife/sister/daughter/mother/whatever, I realize I need that balance of each one.
And while I am ever thankful for revelation, it hasn’t always come quickly, to me or the brother of Jared. There is a lot of grappling. God gave us the ability to faith, reason and creativity; intending for us to utilize each one. We are not just to be faithful, but active and engaged as we make sense of things, seek answers and grow. The goal, hopefully, to become like Himself, Herself and itself–godliness is resourceful: drawing on all knowledge and imagination together with the spirit. While my personal reserves are presently microscopic, I love the beautiful theology of where it is all heading and feel so appreciative that my autonomy of mind is valued alongside my faith.
This afternoon, when I sit down to do another bargain puzzle with my son, that may be missing a few pieces, and requires some creative problem solving, I will be reminded of this thought from John Welch, of the Maxwell Institute:
“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.”
Faith, together with reason and some creativity, and a bit of revelation is the only way I know how to begin to put it all together, especially when I’m still missing pieces.
How do reason and creativity factor into your own puzzling? Do you tend to rely on one over the other?