I love puzzles of all kinds. Jigsaw, word, brain games. I haven't started them yet with my daughter... she's two and loves putting things together, but I think I'm not more ready more than she's not ready? Who knows.
We do, however, have this "puzzle" -- it's 0-10 and the four major function signs. The subtraction piece is a small blue line that fits inside both zeros. Naturally, AB has placed it in the 0 or 10 a bunch of times and exclaimed, "I got it!" with such excitement that I sometimes haven't corrected her; I've just smiled at her innocence and moved on to the next number.
One of the times I did correct her, I said the phrase, "Just because it fits doesn't mean it belongs." The words came without hesitation, but they tripped me up for a second -- how many things do I have in my life that don't really belong? Maybe a lot of things, since my husband and I tend to stuff any and everything we can into every little nook and cranny of time we have. Maybe that's why I have so lovingly been told that without make-up I look very tired. So when I said those words to my daughter in a moment meant to teach her, it seemed I needed the lesson.
Just because it fits into our lives -- just because we can take that phone call, just because we can make room for one more relationship, just because we can text back immediately, just because we can make time to add one more task to the to-do list -- doesn't mean any of that belongs.
I tried to think of a litmus test for letting things into our lives. Does it bring me joy? Well, that seems unrealistic because sometimes we have to keep something in our life that isn't joyful, but is necessary. You might need your job for the income, but it might bring you absolutely no joy. What does this do for my life? That seemed more realistic, especially in terms of relationships. Do you surround yourself with people who are kind, who treat you well and lift you up, and who leave you feeling lighter when the two of you part? What about, Do I need this? I don't need the books I keep on my nightstand, but without books my life would feel so much emptier.
All that to say, I don't know what the "real" litmus test should be, if there should be one, for figuring out what fits vs. what belongs in your life. What I do know is that I tossed a bunch of clutter-causing stuff in the trash that same week in the name of "not belonging" and haven't looked back since. Stepped back from a few relationships, too. Haven't looked back there, either.
I believe that when we fit something into our life that doesn't really belong, it's more than our joy that's sucked away. Energy, time, resources, and general well-being all suffer because we are so determined to fit / cram / stuff everything in, all in the name of FOMO. (That's Fear of Missing Out, for those of us not up on the urbandictionary.com).
Maybe the only question we should ask ourselves is, "This fits, but does it belong?" and give ourselves a gut check. Say to ourselves, "I have time for this, but is this how I want to spend my time?" We have to lay aside what might be hurt feelings, we have to lay aside our God complexes and remember we can't do or have it all. And we have to take a hard look at the big puzzle that is our lives, and decide whether or not something that has a space, really should have a place.