To Sudoku, Or Not To Sudoku?

There’s definitely a right answer to that question in our household. Ah yes, the latest phenomenon to hit the funny pages of the Oregonian: Sudoku, a Japanese number logic puzzle. Each day my husband comes home for lunch: we dole out sections of the paper – he gets Sports, and I get everything else. I quickly skim through stories, blurting out interesting things like , ìDid you know they might put tolls on 217? That sucks.î or ìDid you know that some hockey gear company and Nike have merged their logos?î (Cause my hubby likes hockey and business, and I like to sound like I know what Iím talking about, so I skim for things he likes, mention it, and let him pontificate).

But I always save the best for last – the Sudoku puzzle. My pen is ready – it changes daily depending on how many puzzles I have finished with it historically. I like these puzzles because my contribution doesnít rest on remembering random trivia and I can’t hear my mother in my head bemoaning the fact that phonics ruined my ability to spell (heh heh – right there, I seriously just couldnít spell phonics. I laughed: you should, too – except my mother, who will be shaking her head all the more). All the pieces are there – numbers and/or letters depending on how big you can Sudoku (I have yet to tackle the Sunday Monster Sudoku: too scary): you just have to look at the big picture and arrange them properly.

Today I was talking with a friend about young adult ministry. Actually, I was telling him to stop feeling so pressured about his job, to ìhold things looselyî, to recognize that while he might have vision of where we need to go that he canít solely steer us in that direction.

And then I started talking about how I donít follow the advice that I just gave. 🙂 I have those feelings and desires about certain areas of my life, particularly being on boards and committees. I just got a notice from one board about an upcoming meeting: weíre evaluating our current programs – are they good? Are they doing what they should? Why did they originate in the first place? Are they meeting those needs, or have the needs changed? And so for a week since receiving the letter, Iíve been pondering which Mr. Potato Head eyes Iím going to wear – happy, mad, or scary.

Part of me is selfish. Thereís a chunk of change for some of these programs, and Iíd like to take it and do young adult ministries with it: travel to churches in the NW, meet with folks who have a concern or compassion for young adult ministries, talk about the personality and distinctives of their particular area, and dream up ways of living out Godís love in their present reality. Part of me is idealistic: I could do it! Iíve got free time and connections and the passion! Part of me is realistic: I also have a husband and a one year old. Will people ever change? Are my desires in line with Gods (at least in how they come about?). And who says that the folks on the board would even think itís a good thing?

The reason I went to check in with my friend is because Iíve been concerned for him: heís seemed . . . driven yet discouraged, idealistic yet realistic, free to explore yet loaded with responsibility. And folks can only have so many opposing dichotomies before they tear. But a wonderfully wise woman gave me an image of this friendís work: ìHeís in labor! Heís birthing something new in the Kingdom, but right now heís stuck in the eighth or ninth month, and we all know thatís just plain uncomfortable!î

For myself, I feel like Iím looking at a Sudoku puzzle of my life: all the pieces are there, but theyíre not arranged quite right. Iím so focused by a certain box of nine squares that Iím not seeing the larger picture, and yet Iím distracted by flitting around with this chunk and then that chunk that Iím overwhelmed.

Thereís so much release and relief once one piece falls into place and the rest do the same: I often smack my head and wonder why I didnít see it before. The trite answer could be ìitís all in Godís timingî – which does have relevance, but it also has to do with my sight – my vision – my training and thinking and preparing and submitting myself fully to Godís desires for my life and the life of this Yearly Meeting and Godís greater Kingdom.

So, should we start offering up Sudoku puzzles to work on during open worship? A new listening exercise for our Listening Life Groups? Or maybe I should just stick to my kitchen table listening practice.

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