A wise quilter once said, “If you love sewing, you have to love seam ripping.”
I don’t love seam ripping. Ripping out a seam is moving backwards. It is undoing what I have spent time and effort and energy creating. My preferred method is to do everything right the first time! If I just plan ahead sufficiently, if only I would focus well enough, then surely no mistakes would happen. The illusion of my craft is that everything seems to be within my control. Not only that, my way ensures that any mishaps MUST not be my own fault. If that seam ripper has to come out, it is obviously not my own negligence. Rather, it is faulty thread, bent needles, or the wrong fabric. (We won’t mention bad cuts and sloppy seams.) When the seams must be ripped, frustration, sadness, and even anger generally accompany the chore.
The truth is that any errors are my own fault. It is my responsibility to correct and do it the right way. In the Christian life, this is called repentance. Stopping, turning around, and going a different way. God gives us a lot of choices to make in life. Even though He is the Vine, it is our responsibility to abide in Him (John 15:5). Therefore, if any repentance needs to happen, it is because of my own sin. Repentance is necessary because of my mistakes, not God’s, because God doesn’t make mistakes. When I sew, and after cutting a favorite fabric, and pairing it with coordinating designs, a new design is formed. Unfortunately, more often than I’d like, seams are sewn incorrectly. If the mistake was a simple one, then only a few stitches need to be redone. Sometimes, the mistakes happened much earlier in the process. A flaw in the design, a crooked beginning, poor materials can undermine the entire process. In that case, major seam ripping begins. Often if too much damage is done, then a whole piece of fabric must be discarded entirely. Repentance is needed from time to time in my life, too.
I think sometimes God gives us no other option but to grab the seam ripper in our lives. John 15 describes His process in terms of gardening. Jesus is the Vine, and God is the Vinedresser. He nourishes us. He builds us. He grows us. It has to be His way, though. Sometimes this involves pruning. Sometimes it involves discarding the parts that are not abiding in Him. The pieces of my life that are not lining up with His design are only hindering the finished product.
In this time of sheltering-at-home in this pandemic crisis, should we dare to ask what God’s purpose could be? I think in many ways, this is a seam ripping time. Or at least it is a time to evaluate whether some seams need to be ripped. We may be having to take apart things that have been built and maintained for a long time, and maybe it is easier to take a look at all the individual pieces of our lives and re-evaluate how it all is supposed to go together. I hope that the thing that has changed the most is your Sundays and Wednesdays! My church life is a piece of fabric in my life that is indispensable. I hope you are not one whose Sundays haven’t changed much, and you are still home like you always are on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Maybe you are seeing in a small way through social media how many people are hungry for their Sunday worship. When it’s time to assemble back together, I hope you sew that back into your life.
I love sewing and quilting. I would like to do it more often than I do, but this season of my life involves other more important pursuits. So my favorite hobby often is relegated to the back burner. I love measuring and cutting, piecing and sewing, designing and quilting. It is so satisfying to complete a quilt! Whether the project is purely functional, a quilt for needed warmth for your family, or whether it is a work of art to be adored by admirers, the feeling of accomplishment and pride is the reward. When my life is over, and the Vinedresser has finished His work in me, I think many seams will have been ripped. I think many blocks of my life will have been remade into what He wanted me to be.
It may seems like things are “coming apart at the seams,” but that’s not always a bad thing. And so I try to keep calm while God tells me it’s time to grab the seam ripper.