I’ve sewn off and on my whole life and I’ve been a lover of crafting since I was young. So it didn’t surprise me when, on my 31st birthday last April, that I wanted to start cross stitching.
What surprised me is just how much I loved it immediately.
It’s so simple but it can be so hard. You have a pattern but sometimes you make a mistake, or the thread tangles, and there’s nothing you can do to fix where you went wrong but rip out the stitches and start over again.
I’ll be stitching happily, growing more and more distracted by my thousandth viewing of Gilmore Girls in the background and by the dogs barking and the dryer beeping when I feel the sudden change in tension. Too much and I know I’ve knotted the tread. A quick slackness and the thread has ripped. Most of the time, that’s it. I try to remedy the error where I can and fix it totally if possible, but more often than not I have to slowly find a weave the delicate threads through the fabric to a point where I can start again.
And sometimes I stitch something beautifully, perfectly, with even stitches and smooth, tangle-free thread. Each color is vivid and I selected just the right length of thread and something beautiful starts to emerge when I realize, with a feeling that makes me want to cry, that I miscounted the pattern and I am one row too far to the left or right. I can try to modify the pattern, but it’s not what the pattern maker had in mind.
– – – – –
It’s not what the pattern maker had in mind.
It’s not what my Pattern Maker had in mind.
I like control. I like it when things come out the way they’re supposed to. I like things to look right and to fall in line with my thoughts and my plans.
And life is funny like that. God is funny like that. Because when I try to hold so tightly to the thread of this life, I feel the tension, the subtle pull of too much or the hasty slack of broken pieces.
But God. Oh, God. He knows.
In fact… He knew. He knew long before I ever would exist on this planet:
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
(Psalm 139:13-16, ESV)
As a cross stitcher, I love the image of God knitting me together, fearfully and wonderfully. He never needed to consult a pattern or redo what went wrong because He created me as He intended me to be. His tension is perfect; His yarn never tangles or tears.
Knowing how hard I try to go slow and take my time, yet still make constant mistakes, makes my awe and reverence for God even greater still. And it makes me freeze in wonder as I think:
What am I doing with my own pattern?
God already knows what my finish product will look like. He’s always known. His word tells me constantly that I am known to Him.
He tells me in that Psalm above.
He tells me in Ephesians 1:4-5 that He chose me in Him before the foundation of that world, that I was predestined through Him to be adopted as His own.
He tells me in John 15:16 that it isn’t I who chose Him, but Him who chose me so that I might go and bear lasting fruit in this world.
And even way back in the Old Testament, He tells me in Jeremiah 29:11 that He knows the plans He has for me, plans for a future and for hope (thank you Jesus for the promise of a future in Heaven!).
So why do I find myself constantly trying to rethread this needle with a different color of thread, or a different number of threads, or placing the stitches in the wrong spot? I don’t need to rewrite the pattern. It will never look as good as He designed it to me.
When I do it, it looks second place. Sometimes it doesn’t even look that good. I’d even go as far as saying more often than not, what I give God looks like 8,761,576,503rd place. It’s like giving God my bruised fruits and blemished animals when I’m holding those precious, perfect ones in my house where no one can see them.
When I do that, I fester. Trying to criss cross over what God’s already stitched and stitching? I create tangles and breaks and the only thing left to do to fix it is to allow God to rip out all the junk, and trust me, it takes forever to rip out all of that stuff. Once it’s ripped out, there’s a slight ripped in the fabric. The threads never sit just right. You can see the beauty in the finished project, but the less you have to rip, the better you let the pattern speak for itself, the more whole the finish piece is.
The less you attempt to modify things, the more time you have to admire the beauty of it all.
Because the Pattern Maker knows what He’s doing.