Knitting Your Life

I was on an emotional “high” after the If:Gathering. I feel as though I fell off a cliff. Someone important in my life pushed me off when I wasn’t prepared. I have always been a “Miss fix-it.” Not that I am that good with power tools, although I am learning. No, I have always tried to fix other people’s’ problems. That sounds foolish. When I write it down I feel foolish, but it is the truth. I think I learned to be a person who fixes problems for the people I care about because my mother taught me. She was an amazing mother. She loved so deeply and cared about everyone. She modeled Christian discipleship so beautifully. She was human, though, and in hindsight I realize she tended to fix problems that were brought to her. If you couldn’t fix your problem yourself, you took it to my mother and she did her best to fix it for you. Some problems must be fixed or borne by the bearer. Some people in my life never learned to do this.

After my mother died her “responsibilities” were unconsciously divided up by the family. I become the “fixer.” I love to knit. It releases endorphins and makes me feel good to knit. I work out my problems on yarn. I untangle and rewind if the yarn has a tendency knot. I make center-pull balls to knit with. I learned to use a wooden spoon in place of a nostepinne and if you are a yarn person and want to know more just look it up on YouTube and you can make them also.

Some skeins make many tangles

Some skeins make many tangles

To work out the insensitive remarks that knocked me off the cliff I bought a skein of yarn and decided to take time for spiritual whitespace to knit. As I faced tangle after tangle my frustration grew and after cutting knots out of the yarn (something I never do, I patiently untangle) I recognized that I need to cut the thoughts of the hurtful remarks out of my life. This person has told me in the past that they cannot filter their words and simply say everything they think. I was instructed to let the hurtful words, “Go in one ear and out the other.”

The difficulty is that my thoughts are like a skein of yarn. I don’t have a setting for ignoring some of what someone says to me. I don’t know what statements reflect their real intentions and when they are just venting. I feel like I am trying to knit with a lot of loose ends. How do I weave this person into my life if I must keep cutting out the statements that cut me deeply? I am dealing with an important person who is hurting. They are begging me to fix problems for them. They are desperate for help,but other than to demand that I drop everything to help them, they don’t know what to do. My suggestions of ways to work on the problems themselves falls on deaf ears. How do you stop acting like the “fixer” when adults are trained to come to you with all their challenges?

In a recent post Amber Haines wrote for (in)Courage about being in her words a “burden bearer.” This resonated deeply for me. This morning fighting with my skein of yarn, with time I do not have to spare, I recognized this in myself. Life really is like yarn. We do not know exactly what the finished project will look like at the end, but we usually have a pattern and an idea. We can change our mind, unknit, unravel, and alter our fiber, but the fun is in the journey. We are creating a one-of-a-kind piece of art. We need Gods’ help to do our best and we never quit learning, but the feel of the fiber through our fingers both soothes and invigorates. We are incomplete, but beautiful. We are knitting with our lives, His handiwork. God is the spinner who put just the right amount of twist in our yarn to create what He wants from us. No one has the same tension, we don’t even use the same technique,but all of us are works of art spun by His loving hand.

I cannot knit anther persons’ life for them. I can sometimes help them unravel, but usually an extra pair of hands is in the way. I need to learn to get my hand off others yarn and work on my own. I am in a period of winding an uncooperative skein into a useful ball of yarn. If I continually drop my own nostepinne and try to unravel others’ work none of us will make progress. Wind, Amy, just wind your own yarn!

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Whitespace on a Winters’ Day

After some days jam-packed with busy I found some Whitespace this afternoon.

 

The inspiration on my study wall

The inspiration on my study wall

1 Thessalonians 5:14
“ And we urge you, beloved, to admonish the idlers, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all of them.”

The verse that really impressed itself upon my heart tonight. Help the weak. Encourage those who are disheartened. Teach those who seek to avoid self-sacrifice. Be patient with all of them.

My family is dealing with many health problems right now and being home just to tuck a quit around them when they are cold, or make them a good dinner is a gift that I am grateful to be able to give.

Pussywillow came to rest on my legs

Pussywillow came to rest on my legs

 

Rose leaning against the back of my head

Rose leaning against the back of my head

Listen

What I love to do that feeds my soul is read the Bible with no agenda. Most of the time that I carve out to read the Bible is to preparing to lead a Bible Study or a Bible study that I am participating in, or a daily Bible reading plan or read family Bible texts and devotions aloud. These are all worthy activities, but I don’t really get the same comfort, insight or relationship with God when I read assigned texts. I have come to discover that I need time to read a verse or paragraph and just savor it. The Word of God is sweet indeed and consuming it too quickly doesn’t allow me to absorb the full flavor.

There are numerous texts that fly past my eyes everyday. I have flip books of Bible verses, Bible app daily readings that flash upon my screen, Lectionary readings, Sunday School lesson texts, Bible Study texts, etc. Some days my day is full of the Bible and yet I rush on without much time listening to God. How can a life that is full of The Word be so over-run with external and internal noise that I can’t hear God?

I have learned much over the last year. I read Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, by Susan Cain and discovered that although I “outgrew” my childhood shyness I am still an introvert, and a highly sensitive person. I am aware of every noise and stimuli. I don’t hear God speak through The Word when my attention is constantly pulled away by the sound of the TV in the next room. I am wearing ear-plugs as I write this so I can hear myself think.

In reading Bonnie Gray’s anticipated book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace I found a sensitive Christian lady who had mastered the art of busy only to discover that we sometimes hear God best through brokeness. Her book has caused me to think about time set aside for creativity and communion with God in new ways.

While each of us has a unique story, I find myself burning down to a dim ember in part because I do not find time for my spirit. I study The Bible. I work. I plan. I serve my family, friends and church. I even try to carve out time to serve the world in small ways, but I rarely find time for my spirit to listen. The noise drowns out the stillness that is necessary for me to really listen to God.

Lately I have been looking for a key Bible texts for each day that really spoke to my heart. This is harder than it sounds. The most difficult part is finding time to listen and pray over what God might be trying to speak into my spirit with that text.

I am finding myself with more insomnia lately. I wake in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep. I lie there trying to think happy thoughts so I can fall back to sleep. Last night I thought that it would be lovely if I found a verse each day and then found or made a visual image to illustrate what it means to me. The ridiculousness of this idea can only be blamed on sleep-deprivation. I would have cast it aside without another thought except that today the key verse was on the flip book on my desk.

January 22, “We Christians have no veil over our faces; we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him. 2 Corinthians 3:18 TLB.”

All afternoon as I worked that verse distracted me. I didn’t have time to think about what God was trying to speak to me, but when I looked at the journaling prompt from Bonnie Gray for week one of the Finding Spiritual Whitespace book club I knew it was all connected.

I am not sure where this journey will lead. It may be foolish of me to try a series at this point. I am too much of an optimist to admit defeat though, so I hope that it is God’s plan for me to be able to carve out time for this trip into the stillness of spiritual whitespace. I know that all my dreams and efforts will come to naught unless they happen to align with His plans. I will do my part. I will fight for time to put in the ear-plugs and look for the key verse and share what I learned here. I will listen.{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252 {\fonttbl\f0\fswiss\fcharset0 Helvetica;} {\colortbl;\red255\green255\blue255;\red255\green255\blue255;\red0\green0\blue0;} \deftab720 \pard\pardeftab720\partightenfactor0 \f0\fs22 \cf0 \cb2 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0 \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec3 Spiritual Whitespace Linkup}