Our Desire to Solve

Monday, August 25, 2014

I was listening to a TED TALK (podcast) on my run the other day. If you haven't caught on by now, I LOVE my podcasts. Please, please, please enrich your life by getting a podcast app on your phone and subscribing to the following:

-The Moth
-Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me
-Ted Talks
-This I Believe

Anywho, the talk was called, "Two Nerdy Obsessions Meet--and It's Magic". The presenter, David Kwong, works for the New York Times putting together their crossword puzzles. He has a fascinating mind and gift.

He talked about how, as human beings, we are wired to create order out of chaos. He did some magic tricks, of sorts, and had some really cool visuals. But the thing that I couldn't get out of my head was what he said about how absolutely primal and instinctive it is for us to SOLVE. We want to solve problems. To make sense out of things...out of life. To have order.

Why did this stick out to me? Because after Lucy died, I was mentally tortured. I wanted to SOLVE and FIX the problem, but I COULD. NOT. And it literally changed my brain. Time and time again, when people ask me about losing my daughter, I tell them that while it effected me in many ways, the greatest toll and damage was MENTAL.

While listening to this Ted Talk, I couldn't stop thinking about all those torturous hours I sat in bed spinning over the events of May 18th. I have long subscribed to the philosophy that "when there is a will, there is a way." I feel like this has served me well in life and there is very little that I don't think I am capable of doing. But when Lucy died, there was no willing her back to life. And it physically HURT.

But then I had this thought: If we are biologically wired to SOLVE, and we are created in the image of God, then isn't He wired to solve, too? And if nothing we are doing, or can do, will solve our problems, then He must be able to. It's faith, really. It's so simple. But I had never thought of it in this way before.

We are solvers. But when we can't solve or fix, God can. How exactly that works, what exactly our part in that is...I don't know. Sometimes it just takes...time. And while He can't fix Lucy's death in the way that I would like, by bringing her back, he can fix "what is." He can fix my broken brain and my broken heart. This has happened mostly through the process of life. Just the way He created earth life to happen. By living one day at a time. There have been greater graces and miracles, mostly via friends and loved ones, but somehow this whole giant system--this crossword puzzle--will be complete. And I will be complete.

Once again, I don't really know where I'm going with this post. I just really enjoyed David Kwong's presentation and was grateful that my madness was validated.

As I go through day to day stresses and struggles, I hope I will remember that while I might be wired to solve and fix and create order, I'm not always the best at it, and I need help from a higher power.

So, carry on my fellow solvers.  I hope you have great success. I suck at crossword puzzles, but hopefully I'll figure out this real-life puzzle someday.


  1. This still plagues me. There would be no way out or bringing Max back. I couldn't fix the fact that he was gone and I still can't erase the pain - no matter how much I fill my life with good. I think all grievers feel this way to a certain extent BUT, as parents, we feel like we should be able to find solutions for our babies. Losing our children. Makes no sense

  2. Great post Molly! I am gonna watch the Ted talk today. I completely agree with and have felt this same way. Mental is the biggest hardest part of how losing a child affected me too. It is still more a struggle for me on a daily basis than emotions or any other aspect.

  3. Another podcast that I like- Pop Culture Happy Hour. I downloaded it on a whim, now it's one I catch all the time.

  4. You are a good writer, Mollly....very thought-provoking post.

  5. Thank you! What a beautiful post!

  6. Molly,
    I'm not sure if I have ever commented before but I have read over the years your posts and have been awed by your courage and strength. Your words have helped me be a better wife, mother, grandmother and friend. Tonight I feel impressed to comment because I want you to know that this post hit home so powerfully. Two weeks ago our granddaughter was diagnosed with leukemia (ALL) she is six years old. This has been hard to come to terms with. Two weeks ago she had long beautiful hair; today it is almost gone. As you say we humans like to solve problems and fix things; especially this grandma. Sometimes we can and sometimes we just can't. And sometimes we have to simply turn the problem of "fixing" over to God. At the end of the day it is indeed all about faith. And it is simple. Thank you for that reminder. I haven't been here for a while Molly but tonight I was lead here by the One who knows us best. Again thank you for caring enough to share. You are outstanding.

  7. Thank you, thank you for this post. My husband and I have been trying to conceive for 15 months and finally got pregnant in June only to have a very turbulent 10 week pregnancy that ended mid-July. I'm finding myself depressed, wondering what is wrong with me and why we can't have the children we so desperately want. I'd rather stay in my house in my pajamas all day than go out and face the world full of families and babies. In fact, this is what I did this past holiday weekend. Last night I laid in bed with my husband crying how it's just not fair. It's not fair that we have to try this hard, not fair that our (hopefully) next pregnancy will be marred by the scariness and fear from the first... when it should be a time for celebrations and excitement. Your strength in working through Lucy's death is so inspiring to me, and thank you for the reminder that I need to trust the Lord and know that our plan is not always his plan.

  8. Everything you said is SO true! I keep wanting to go back in time to "that" day and I would change things so that my Whitney would still be here. I hate not being able to "fix" this. But that's where faith has to come into play. Thank you for this, and everything you write.


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