I've been given the title “Queen of Bananagrams” by a few of my friends and it’s not an honor I take lightly. The game has been around for 12+ years, with over 8 million games sold in 30 countries worldwide and a constant companion in almost every home I’m hosted in for a Shabbos meal.

The point of the game is for each player to create an individual crossword of connecting words that build off each other, integrating pieces as the game progresses. I think some of its mass appeal stems from the following concepts that we can all apply to our lives:

  1. Depending on the total number of players, each player picks between 14-21 tiles. It’s a seemingly random collection of tiles that we’re meant to create something cohesive and clever with. At times life can also feel like we're being given a random collection of events and circumstances, unsure how God wants us to fit everything together to form a cohesive whole. But somehow all the pieces come together, creating a complex, interlocking puzzle that we had no idea was going to emerge. Oftentimes we look back at certain periods in our lives and we can see in retrospect how everything came together for our good.

  2. During a recent game I discarded what I thought were pieces that were hindering my performance and later on they came back to me and actually helped. God has a plan and timing for everything in our lives. Just because things don’t work out on our time table doesn’t mean at a later point in our lives it won’t come back and come together perfectly.

  3. There have been times I’ve been flying through the game peeling, peeling, peeling, grabbing one tile after another and then I get stuck with the dreaded “Q”. This can totally throw you for a loop because either you don’t have the necessary “U” to go with it, or you have the “U” so deeply embedded in your crossword that your whole layout has to be dismantled in order to pull it out so you can use the "Q." Sometimes in life we have to break apart what we were building in order to rebuild it into something new, stronger and more appropriate for our lives. God can throw us curveballs that we’re not in control of but it’s up to us how we respond and constructively integrate it into our lives.

  4. As we move through the game we can’t be rigid. Each time we pick a tile we have to quickly analyze the big picture and see how we can adjust and fit it in. We get handed circumstances and situations in life that we need to deal with and it’s generally much easier to handle them when we flow than if we insist on staying rigid and unbending. God wants us to flow with the way He’s unfolding our lives and have trust that everything fits together.

  5. Get rid of things that don’t serve you. Yes, in the game if you “dump” a piece you need to pick up three in its stead, but those three new pieces could be much more useful than the one that was hindering you. In life, as much as we want to hold on to things and try and try to make them work, sometimes the best strategy is to give it up and discard it and instead get a different set of options that could shift the picture in a whole different way.

As we all go through the game of life try to keep in mind the lessons and remember we’re each building our own individual crossword. Even if it takes us a little longer to get there, no matter what pieces we get handed we can always build something great.