For over a year, I have been part of a knitting group at my local church. I joined, I admit, mostly to be supportive of my friend who was the leader of the group and because, as the new minister’s wife, I was trying to get acquainted with different people in the church. Instead, this new hobby taught me lessons of how God views the mistakes of my life.
I am not a crafty person. Cooking? Yes. Music? Yes. Writing and discussing books? No question. Visual arts? Uh, no. I really was putting my reputation on the line by joining this class!
I clung to simple projects, like dishcloths and scarves, but soon, timidly ventured into the adventurous. I discovered yarn has changed a lot since my childhood days when I made knitted wooden coat hanger covers for my grandma every Christmas. Soft cotton yarn came in a variety of variegated colors. Regular yarn came in lots of colors and textures. Soon I was making baskets full of dishcloths, several scarves made with pompom yarn and baby hats made with yarn that wrapped softness around my stressed out soul.
A creative part of me awakened as if from a deep sleep. I started figuring out my own patterns. The ladies laughed at me when I announced i was amking a baby blanket. For who? they asked. Since I have two unattached daughters, grandchildren will be a long way off. I don’t know, I said. I just want to make a baby blanket. So, late one night, I spent over an hour calculating the numbers for a pattern to the backdrop of my husband’s snoring.
On a recent trip home, my daughter gave me scraps of dishcloth yarn. Being the frugal person that I am, I decided I would knit dishcloths for myself instead of for present, figuring I didn’t care how they looked as long as they got a dish clean. When I ran out of a color, I would start a new one. I tried to color coordinate, but near the end I threw different yarns together. It didn’t matter, I told myself, if they were ugly and didn’t match.
It was a big joke to me.I took my dishcloths to knitting class and laughed as I pulled my scrap rags out of my bag. “They’re picture rags,” a lady said. “Look! That’s a sunrise. This one is of the beach. And this one is of the forest with a path running between the forest and the meadow.” My scrap yarn had become works of art.
Another time, I asked the teacher to come to my house. My baby blanket was finished but I had dropped a stitch one place, got confused in following the pattern at several places, and tangled my yarn and had to sever the yarn, leaving an ugly knot with tails at another spot. I so wanted to give the blanket to a new mom but my mistakes glared at me.
“I guarantee you, the baby will not notice the places where you goofed up on your pattern,” Bev told me. “For everything else, get me a crochet hook and scissors.” In no time, she sewed the yarns together where I dropped the stitch and wove my unsightly tails into the loops of the blanket. On the coordinating baby hat, somehow I had stitched from the inside of my circular needles, changing the pattern. “How cute,” Bev said. “You’ve created a little ridge that looks like it’s part of the pattern.”
Some days, the mistakes I’ve made in my life and the mistakes others have made that have creased wounds into my personhood stand out glaringly for all to see. I want to hide, afraid to admit to anyone that I’m flawed. Yes, Jesus said he would forgive me, but would He hide me in the back corner of His kingdom, only fit to use for unseen service? Just like Bev tucked the frayed yarns into the weave of my blanket, so God takes the loose strings and scrappy leftovers of our lives and makes them into something beautiful and useful for His Kingdom. In spite of the mess I’ve made of my life at times, my belief in Him has allowed His grace to turn my surrendered life into a beautiful work of art that brings His Kingdom honor and glory.
He knows what I am but he sees me as I can be. I am indeed a “new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
I’m a mess. You’re a mess. God delights to turn messes into masterpieces!