The Big Pieces

The other night we rearranged our living room furniture. When I say "we," I really mean that Joel rearranged the furniture while I sat on the couch, nursed the baby, and offered suggestions. (He's a very good husband.) Normally I would have tackled a project like this myself, asking for assistance only to shimmy the cumbersome entertainment system or slide the full-sized couch, but this time I simply observed the process.

I'm not good at visualizing. When we built our house a few years ago and walked through the open expanse before studs were hammered and drywall was hung, I relied on Joel's verbal descriptions to bring the blueprints to life. This opening will be the hall closet, and now we're entering the kitchen, he'd say. I'd walk beside him, nodding as he spoke, but until the rooms and walls and carpets became tangible, I never had an accurate sense of how the layout would actually look. He always did.

The same went for rearranging the furniture yesterday. When I suggested positioning the loveseat in front of the window, he intrinsically knew that it would obstruct the flow of the room. I needed to see it before I could make the same judgment. So Joel slid the loveseat there and back again, patiently letting me come to the conclusions he had already drawn.

Despite my inability to visualize, there is one thing we both understand: the big pieces need to be moved first. We knew to situate the couch, angle the loveseat, and plant the entertainment center before locating the right spots for the end table and the floor lamp. We knew in advance to carry away the bins of toys and pick up the miscellaneous sippy cups, books, and balled up socks that had littered the floor. Simply put, we knew to remove the clutter.

This is a lot like life. Knowing what the "big pieces" are helps you to situate your priorities and align your actions accordingly. When I pinpoint my big pieces -- my husband, my children, my friends, my faith -- I more easily understand how my life should be arranged. With this perspective a minor concern becomes like the placement of an end table. It's not worthy of taking up valuable space in my heart, just like an end table doesn't deserve the prime spot in a room.

Had we positioned the small pieces first or attempted the rearrangement while tiptoeing around the clutter, we likely would have run out of space for those pieces that were actually important.

In terms of furniture, this would be frustrating. In terms of life, tragic. I'm determined to identify and focus on the big pieces and let the small ones be as they ought: nice accents, good additions, or pleasant distractions -- not focal points.

1 comment

  1. A very powerful analogy. This is one of those that will stick with me for a long time to come. With that said, every time I use some variation of this story I will have very found memories of you and my time in State College :) Keep writing-I love it!


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