I grew up playing with Legos as a kid. These blocks are so fantastic because they are so versatile. Who knew that 4×2 building blocks could be employed in so many different ways to create so many different structures, empires, or even worlds? I was always impressed with the gigantic Lego statues of people, dinosaurs, fish, what have you. So many little blocks. So many different combinations. So much creativity.
The other thing I really remember about playing with Legos was constantly pouring over the instructions so that I too could put together the myriad of pieces in the right way to create the image on the front of the box. When the kits got complicated, I spent a lot of my time building looking for the right pieces. Did the piece need to be 3 across? Was it the little flashing light that also needed to be decorated with a sticker? Did the instructions call for a piece 7-high or 9-high? The more innovative the kit, the more likely I spent time trying to discern what exact piece I needed. Eventually everything came together because I had enough patience to stick with the process and enough responsibility to keep some of those pesky small pieces away from the vacuum cleaner (or more than likely, my mom avoided the Lego room until after I was done).
All too often, I think we operate under the assumption that becoming human is slightly less complicated than a Lego kit. Or we treat individual persons like they are totally interchangeable with another.
People are not Legos. We do not come with instructions. We all need to reconcile pieces that really do not fit all that well together. We often approach life knowing that we do not have all of the pieces, doing the best we can with what we have access to at that moment.
Additionally, people are not interchangeable or able to be snapped right into place. They lack a hard-molded plastic shell that allows them to be stepped on or otherwise mistreated while remaining no worse for wear.
Yes it is true that people have hard edges. Our edges make us unique and give some definition to our persons. We are not supposed to be all the same. Sometimes different edges will shift, morph and change throughout time. But we be wrong to say that there is an image of maturity expected of all persons where we assume that everyone is on the “same” life trajectory.
So, can we stop assuming that we know what everyone is trying to put together? Can we actually listen to people as they work through the task of becoming fully human with fear and trembling? Can we stop assuming that we know how certain “kits” come together? Can we actually connect with one another and build each other up?