I make things by hand. Wearable things. Like sweaters, socks, scarves… why do they all start with “s.” Anyway, I will knit up (or crochet) a pattern that I like in colors that I love with the intention of wearing the item outside my house. In public. Even around people I know. I am a maker.
And this causes me anxiety. Not because someone may say they don’t like what I made. That doesn’t happen very often. (People are very polite). It’s because I’m critical of my work, and I can’t help but point out the mistakes. Let me demonstrate the type of conversation that usually happens:
Person: Oooh, I love that [insert type of wearable item]! Beautiful [color/shape/construction detail]!
Me: Thank you very much.
Person: Wait, is this the thing you were making!?! From the pictures you shared on [popular social media platform(s)]?? I can’t believe it! So Amazing!!
Me: (slightly embarrassed) Thanks
Person: (may take off on rabbit trail about “I could never do that” or “[Elderly relative] tried to teach me once”) Really great job. You must be so happy with it.
Here’s where we get to the anxiety part. Because the maker in me wants to have a true discussion about the creative process and construction and color theory and the challenges I faced while making. I see all of it. The tension issues that cause uneven stitches. The DROPPED stitches that I tried to repair, but I can still see the hole…. The spot where I clearly forgot to decrease and had to go an extra round. I see all of these every time I look at the garment.
I see it all. The other person doesn’t.
And I have a hard time accepting praise for something that I know is flawed. Sometimes I point out the mistakes I made, or where I’m not happy with the fit or the finishing. And the other person looks at me like I’m crazy. “I don’t see any of that. You worked so hard, you should be proud of yourself.”
I had this exchange entirely inside my head once (next-level anxiety, I’m telling you, I practice the awkward pauses so that I can have some responses that sound appropriate if I’m ever in the situation). And I was struck by the following thought, which is the true point of this post:
God sees all my flaws. He’s the Maker of my heart, the Designer of my life, who knit me together and laid out my steps. He’s formed me, molded me, reshaped me throughout my life. The molding and reshaping is an ongoing process. I am never not in His hands.
These flaws are the reason for the molding. For the reshaping. For the ripping out of rows back to the part where my life aligned to the pattern.
I’m not saying in anyway that God makes mistakes when He’s making me. Let’s put that thought on the “contrary” side of the page. He doesn’t drop stitches or forget an increase or a decrease, or lose count…. I’m the one who goes off-pattern – I refuse to allow my mind to be renewed, and instead try to conform to some pattern I see somewhere else. I come up with kooky ideas and try to make them fit into whatever He’s doing. I try to see (or jump) farther down the chart to figure out what I will become, and I end up creating a tangled mess of myself. Full of holes and uneven rows facing a tangled, knotted ball of beautiful potential. And that’s when He starts ripping back to where I matched up to the pattern.
He sees the flaws. Other people don’t.
As I was pondering this, it occurred to me: God doesn’t point out the flaws to anyone but me. He sees the flaws, but He doesn’t advertise them. He wants to work on them, correct them, use them to build a truly unique piece. And all along the way, when other people remark on what He’s done in my life, He simply accepts the praise.
People see the evidence of change – the positive attitude, the hope, the willingness to listen. And every time they mention something they see in me that God put there, it’s praise for Him. They may see where I miss the mark, as well, but they don’t see me as “flawed.” Other people are able to see the work-in-progress. I’m way harder on myself (and God, if I’m honest) about the way that progress looks. I can be a critical living sacrifice, that’s for sure.
(Sidebar while I, as a maker, give thanks that I make things with materials that are not alive. I may be fighting quirks of particular fiber characteristics, but at least the yarn doesn’t try to crawl out of my hands while I work with it.)
My Maker, who is looking at the pattern, who knows exactly what quirks are in the fiber of my character, knowingly picked up this project that will last my whole life. Willingly. So even though I see the flaws, it is nice to know that I’m not a finished piece. That I am not stuck with flaws and a tangled mess. That when He is done, when I’m complete, I’ll finally match up to the pattern. Hand-formed into the likeness of my Savior by the Maker who knows me best.