There’s this game I play on my phone called Wordscapes. It’s a word scrambling game where you’re given a certain number of letters and, using them, have to fill in a crossword. It’s probably not a normal thing but I love that game where you take a word and see how many others you can make out of the letters. I find myself doing it all the time, sometimes even without realising I’m doing it. So basically, this game keeps me well-entertained.
The levels, as with most games, become more challenging the higher you get. While sometimes I can just look at the mix and instantly find the longest word, it’s becoming more and more frequent that I look at a set of letters and just stare, unable to find a single word let alone the fifteen or so I need to complete the puzzle. And the word that uses all the letters? Ha! Forget it.
But then I’ll see a little word. Cat. Pathetic, when faced with the vast number I need. Even possibly a little degrading, given a five-year-old could have picked it out. It doesn’t make me feel clever, but it’s a word. A place to start.
And then, from that sad little prep-grade word come more. Fat. Act. Then tact, fact. And suddenly, the words start flowing, building on each other until that puzzle I stared at blankly, thinking I’d never conquer it, is done. Complete. Every little box filled with words. Even the longest ones. All because I started with one little three-letter word. Hundreds of puzzles in and I'm still surprised every time when it happens. You'd think I'd have learnt by now.
It’s a lesson I’m learning just as slowly in my own life. I like to think I’m beyond all that basic stuff. My self-esteem much prefers to start with the impressive things. The big words. The deep and meaningful conversations. The life- and world-changing moments.
Certainly not putting the same set of blocks away five times in one day. And three times the next. And six the next. We have this set of blocks at home and every single day, without fail, I find them spread across the floor and have to pack them up. Nothing exactly life changing about that that’s for sure. It is, quite literally, child’s play. Depressing even on occasion, I’ll admit. It’s not showing off any of the skills I’ve learned in my thirty years or practising the spiritual gifts God has given me. Nope, it’s just picking up blocks.
But those blocks are not only building towers – and trying to trip me over and hide all around the playroom – they’re building the relationship between me and my son. As we sit there playing with them at various times during the day and packing them up over and over, he’s learning that I love him and that I’m there for him. One day, from those basic moments, the deeper ones will come.
Degrading as they may seem at times, there’s nothing wrong with the basics. God can, does and is using them in your life and the lives of those around you. All the time. He’s building on those small starts. That time spent doing things over and over with your kids, the asking of your friend how they are and listening to their day, the chat to your neighbour across the fence about their pet. They might not seem all that spiritual or life-changing at the moment, but they’re the place all that begins. They're the place people find you care.