Friday, January 23, 2015

Grace on a Thursday: Crochet class


Last night, I started a three-sesh crochet class at a local yarn shop.

I crochet now.

Really, it's an odd time for me to be learning a new skill. It doesn't feel like the "right" time. It seems all the resources...time, money and energy...are scarce in my life. It seems, if you're floating on a raft after a shipwreck, the last thing you need is to pick up a new hobby. 

But last night, as my fingers found their way into a pattern, looping over and over again until the pattern was repeated hundreds of times, the pattern became a rhythm. And that rhythm, hammered out along a strand of mustard-colored wool, gave me a steady, soul-satisfaction; one I needed.

The very first verb in the Bible is an action that God Himself does. "In the beginning, God created...(Genesis 1:1)."

It's the first thing He wants us to know about Him. He creates. "Let me just introduce myself, " He says, "by starting at something essential. You need to understand this about me. I am creative. I create. And I am THE Creator." Soon afterwards, we read that we are made in His image.

Some people don't connect those dots, I guess; lots of adults make claims like, "Oh, I'm not creative at all!" Well...aren't you? Or at least, weren't you, before someone else told you otherwise? Do you know any small children who make bold claims that they are not creative? I believe something in us, all of us, needs to create, because we were made in the image of The Creator.

I'm diverging now but I'm not talking about crafts, in case you thought I was. Some people are naturally good at creating a good meal. Or an inviting atmosphere. Or a portfolio for a client. Think outside the box when I say we all need to 'create.' What do you naturally drift towards creating? It might be crafts, after all; you know I for one love a good bunting.

Back to crochet class. I sat there, knowing I didn't have time for this. And yet the quiet focus around the table ministered to me. In a hushed space, your senses have room to wake up, and I felt grateful for small things: for my own capable hands (I may not be able to use them so well someday), for the texture and color of a ball of yarn (like mottled grey alpaca, soft as down), and the way a hundred of them looks stacked along a wall.

What felt like long forgotten skills, crochet class reminded me - forced me - to practice: Be patient with myself. Give myself grace. I could rip out my work and start over because I was just learning. And lately my life doesn't feel the same; mistakes feel like they run long lines of damage. And all the past knots and rips are hard to overlook. Yet the kind, grey-haired woman who taught us gave me freedom to mess up. In fact, she expected it. She smiled on at our awkward movements, our holes and skipped steps. Graciously, she'd walk us through the repairs.

I wish my real life mistakes were the same. I'd love to rip out a long strand of harsh words snapped at my kid, and then wind a more careful sentence in it's place. Honestly, I wish my fabric looked perfect. It just doesn't. Far from it. So crazily far from it.

It's humbling to know that Jesus still smiles at me with kindness. Of course He doesn't smile at my sin, but He smiles at my feeble attempts to fix myself and others when I just don't have the ability. He does have the ability, though. He is the Creator, the master weaver of all things together for my good.

Like the woman who taught the class, Jesus isn't surprised by my mistakes. He expects them. He's ready to walk me through repairs in grace, He and His bloodstained hands.

A little creating, being quiet, and practicing grace for myself did my soul so much good. As did remembering that God is overseeing all the work. He's available, loving and kind, and capable of fixing all the things I can't. 

Crochet class wasn't the last thing I needed. It was the exact thing I needed.


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

on bearing a broken heart

I took a break from blogging. Some of it intentional, some not. For a time, God clearly asked me to let it lie. Walk away and focus in. He knew what I needed, because Life got....I can't land on an adequate word. None of the words begin to single-handedly describe the storms that have crashed around us in the last half-year.

I periodically checked on my blog and discovered there was a glitch and I couldn't even get in. God kept the door shut. I accepted it (after trying to walk through the troubleshooting with Blogger eleventy times, let's be honest).

But sometime in November, I recognized a flicker of longing to write again. I slowly peppered God with "maybe, do you think, I could just a little bit, perhaps get into my blog..." prayers, which grew to sincere pleas for Him to stir me again and give me my voice back. I was afraid to attempt a login for a few weeks. And when I mustered the courage, somehow the glitch was gone. He said Yes. I was in.

And then a few more weeks passed because I don't know where to start. I feel overwhelmed by the past several months. They haunt me in a way, and I'm not sure I want to recap.

I suppressed an ugly cry on New Years Eve, as the clock struck midnight and everyone was cheering and hugging. At the moment the year clicked forward, I had a jolting feeling, like you have when you suddenly need to throw up: I wanted to ball up on my bed and cry out all the grief in which 2014 had nearly drowned me. But I cheered and hugged too.

At my first job out of college, working in the back office for a Medical Supplies company, I had a very kind, very elderly woman for a boss. She owned the business, and she treated me more like an adored granddaughter, than an employee. She would compliment me with a maternal intensity, and often said, with an equal measure of fervor each time, "Your skin is like a China doll!"

I keep hearing her, in my head, because I feel so fragile.

Many times, God has carried me through valleys high up in His arms, firmly seated and safe. I thought I was strong and rooted, in a permanent kind of way. But this season has been altogether different. I realize it was never me who owned the strength. It's not that I feel He isn't with me. It's more that I'm understanding He wants to acquaint me with my broken heart. He's unwrapped his strong arms from around me, and said, "Look. You couldn't see it before, because I was holding you together. See all these cracks? All the places your heart has been crushed? I can't heal you until we uncover them."

At all times, I feel I am bearing a broken-heartedness just under the surface. The littlest offenses burn deep. The smallest hints of pain send me running. And I am not a runner. I've never been a runner. But holy crap, this hurts.

God has told me it's the only road. There is one way to healing and it's through - not around, not above, and not blinded to, but only through - the hurt, looking the broken places full in the face. And it's taking a bravery I do not know much of, yet.

You're welcome for this upbeat and encouraging re-entry into blogging.

What I mean to say is thanks for listening. I've missed you.