Quilt Theology

Disappointments in Quilting

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

Despite planning and best efforts, my quilts are anything but perfect. Most of the time I’m pretty happy with the results, but quilting disappointments sometimes happen. I’m trying to learn to embrace them as part of the learning process, although that doesn’t come easy for me.

Today I share my most disappointing experience as a quilter, not because I need to vent – I’m pretty much over it now – but because I realized what a powerful analogy for life that the experience holds for me. My hope is that by sharing this, you can relate, too.

The details are best saved for another blog post but in a nutshell, I had worked on a quilt over the course of two years, intending to enter it as a competition quilt, and it came back from the long-armer in less than “show-quality”‘condition. Not only had my design been altered, but it now had some pretty serious flaws that any judge worth their salt was going to identify. I felt like my quilt was ruined, and I felt a profound sense of loss.

It goes without saying that the best part of my quilting life is my quilting buddies. They are true and awesome friends. After my distress call, some of them agreed to meet up with me to see if we could brainstorm a solution. We talked through several possibilities, including cutting off portions of the quilt, but every solution came with a new set a problems. In the end one of my friends put her arm around me and said, “I’m so sorry this happened, and I can only give you my empathy. But I think you should take your quilt home, put a binding on it, use it and love it. It may not be a “show quality” quilt, but it is still a very beautiful and useful quilt.”

So that’s what I did. I brought the quilt back home, trimmed it and began attaching the binding.

Image of my Farmer's Wife Quilt
My Farmer’s Wife Quilt, which contains over 100 6″ patchwork blocks.

As I made those little hand stitches, it occurred to me how very much like this quilt I am. So much effort to be the best, to get it all right, but still so far from perfect. I suppose none of us gets through life looking exactly the way our Creator intended us to look. We get ripped apart and cut down. We get altered. Changed forever. There is no going back. There is no fixing us. We are all damaged goods, at times feeling like we are destined for the rubbish pile.

Perhaps it was the friend we betrayed in a moment of carelessness. The word spoken in anger. Or the intimacy we gave away so casually without a promise of commitment. Or the lie we told because we were afraid of what would happen if we spoke the truth. Maybe it’s the hurt we carry around because we had a parent who couldn’t keep a promise, or a friend who really wasn’t. These rip the fabric of our souls…

And yet, somehow, God is able to take us home, put a binding on us and love us anyway. He calls me useful. Even beautiful. And that is a very amazing thing, for which I feel a profound sense of gratefulness.

So, as I stitched together the binding, I found myself humming this little tune I learned in my youth:

Something beautiful, something good.
All my confusion He understood.
All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife.
But He made something beautiful of my life.

Yes, He did!


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