Anyone who knows anything about quilting probably knows that perfectionists have no business getting anywhere near it. Period. However, my best friend and I didn’t know anything about quilting, so we were quite willing to dive into a project that turned out to be far more complicated than we were expecting. We decided to make matching quilts for graduation, but the problem with quilting is that it’s an awful lot like life.
Things started out very simple, almost painfully simple. Wash the cloth, measure the cloth, cut the cloth. A bit monotonous, but not difficult. After that, you begin sewing the squares together. One square to another to another until you have a few rows ready to sew together. That’s where things begin to get a bit annoying for perfectionists such as myself. Things don’t line up perfectly. It just doesn’t happen. Ever. But you do the best you can and move on.
Sometimes you’ll make a mistake. You could sew a square on backwards or put a border on the wrong side. When you do, you have to go and rip out the stitches so you can try again. Taking out a seam is tedious, and never leaves the cloth quite the same. Of course, sometimes you’re not the one who made the mistake. Maybe someone gave you the wrong measurements and you have to remove a seam because of that. You always use double thread, too, which makes taking out the seams even more challenging and wasteful, but makes the finished product stronger.
And the further along you get, the more complicated things become. First you’re fitting strips of squares together… then you’re fitting blocks of strips together… and so on. The closer you come to finishing, the easier it is to ruin the whole thing. Anyhow, now I’m just rambling, so I suppose I should really stop and tell you why I think that quilting is like life.
One thing was taking out seams. Once you’ve done something, you can’t take it back completely. It also tends to be very difficult to undo it at all, and when you’re left dealing with a mistake someone else made, it’s best to remember that you’ve done similar things, and be gracious about it. Another thing is the double thread. Something that God’s really seemed to be trying to pound into my head recently is that I can’t make it on my own. People are designed to need each other.
But the biggest thing about the quilt that struck me as similar to life was all the little imperfections. As you’re sewing, you’ll see that your squares don’t line up evenly. Sometimes they look so far off that you think that the end result will be unbelievably lopsided and wrong. You’ll notice spots where your thread doesn’t exactly match, or where the color scheme is a bit off and wonder why you keep going, because it’s obviously going to turn out so horribly that all you’ll want to do with it is put it in the back of a closet somewhere and forget it exists. Well, maybe not everyone reacts quite like that, like I said to begin with, I’m a perfectionist. But the fact is that in the process, it looks like it’s going to be a mess.
Yet somehow, once you’re done, you look at the end result and the defects seems to vanish. Every little imperfection is lost in the beauty of the overall pattern. So I’ve been thinking… isn’t that what God does in our lives as Christians? Yes we mess up and make mistakes, but in the end, God has a beautiful plan that outshines all our flaws and defects. His design is the end result, and our faults are lost in its glory.
Oh, and just for the record, my quilt is beautiful. It’s far from perfect, but it’s made with love and it’s something that I will treasure almost as much as the memories of making it. It’s also a constant reminder that God has a perfect plan for my life, at a time when I need that reminder more than ever.