Knitting has become a constant in my life over the past year. I made Lily a blanket earlier in 2017, and now I am working on one for Elijah. I am doing a color-block pattern with a seersucker stitch. It is a bit more complicated and involved than I had planned, but it is coming out quite beautifully, albeit imperfectly (but hey, life lessons, right?).
I am not one to prepare my yarn. Before they even start knitting, some people roll their yarn in tight little balls and then put it in a yarn holder. When they do this, they will never have to deal with knots or tangles. This is so incredibly smart. Planning ahead pays.
I struggle with patience. It takes quite a bit of time and energy to roll yarn into balls before the project has even started. I typically impatiently want to dive right into my project, without any further adieu or delay. I don’t want to spend time preparing my yarn because I don’t see any immediate reward for my effort. I like to see the fruit of my labor immediately.
What is the outcome of my haste? You guessed it!! I am half-way through this blanket for Elijah, and I am stuck. I have been pushing back my tangled gray yarn for about a week. If you are familiar with knitting or crochet and are impatient like I am, you might understand this concept. You can postpone total re-rolling of your yarn just by making a few alterations and shoving the tangled mess back just enough to finish the next row. I would knit the 160 stitches of one row until the string was taut against the inevitable tangled disaster. At the end of each row of stitches, I would face a decision: Would I really hunker down and commit to untangling the rest of the yarn, or would I shove the tangled jungle of grey yarn back just far enough for me to tackle the next 160 stitches? Would I do the dirty work of getting to the root of the problem, or would I do just enough to get by, delaying the inevitable? You see, I knew that at one point or another I would have to do the hard work, but I was willing to kick that proverbial can down the road just a little bit farther.
My tangled mess was not going away. I would have to face it.
So on Wednesday, this week, after about a week of shoving the tangled yarn farther and farther away from my project, I decided that the looming inevitability of disaster was too overwhelming. I would face it head-on, stop my knitting, and really get to the root of my yarn problem. Untangling that mess took hours. I mean, I spent an entire day untangling yarn and not knitting. But it had to be done if I ever wanted to actually finish my project.
Sometimes analogies slap us in the face. This analogy was so obvious that I could not deal with my knitting without thinking about my life. How many issues in my life do I shove aside, just trying to get through the next day? How many unresolved relationships, loose ends, and places of brokenness do I stretch just a little bit further down the tight thread of my anxious life knowing that one day sooner or later I will have to face the music of my hurt and chaos?
Procrastination: How much healing in my life am I avoiding, thinking that I have more important issues at hand?
This week I am too busy to allow God to heal me from my bitterness from the wound that keeps oozing. I’m just going to keep putting more bandages on it so I don’t have to think about the infection. Tylenol works to control the pain, so I can keep going like this for a bit longer.
I have too many projects going on right now to really deal with the hurts that keep popping up. They happened 25 years ago. I’ve made it this far without really hashing it out; why drudge them up now? I will keep playing wack-a-mole.
I am too busy with all of these ministry ventures to dig into my woundedness from that arrow. Even though it hit my heart, and I feel the pangs of it’s aftermath every day, I can’t commit time at this point to allow God to break into that particular wound. It would be way too inconvenient.
These postponements work for a while. They have worked in my life. There are issues that are safe to deal with, and then there are wounds that are too risky to open up. In the short-term, healing would take more time and energy than I am willing or feel able to invest. It seems practical and even wise to just push the tangled mess back far enough to get through the next row of stitches.
But, really, are these delays helping or hurting? Are they stunting our growth and binding us, paralyzing us in our process of maturity and sanctification in Christ? Are they sending us around the same mountain over and over again, as we never really move forward? We hold in one hand this life that keeps advancing and growing, and we hold in the other a tangled disaster of bitterness and brokenness in which we are unwilling to really let God do His deep healing work.
I’m there, or else I wouldn’t have had the looming sense that my tangled mess of yarn isn’t really just about a tangled mess of yarn. I wouldn’t have looked at the postponement of the inevitable in my knitting project and seen the tangible reminder of a more pervasive pattern in my life.
I fall into the mentality of the “tyranny of the urgent.” With little kids, a growing congregation, and a gnarly chronic illness, I fall prey to this mentality. I put out the most pressing fires. I fight the battles that throw themselves at you each day, and I don’t have the bandwidth to go digging for the deeper battles that are waging under the surface. I live on the defense, boxing gloves hovering around my face, trying desperately to block the constant barrage of blows. And as I do this, I hear whispers that the more pressing matters are the ones that I am avoiding. As I block the blows of the surface, I miss the deeper wounds of the heart.
So I did the hard work with the yarn. I spent the day unraveling the mess. If only life were that simple. One day of unraveling and digging out the knots, and you are set to knit on, unhindered for the rest of your life! But if I can take the time with my knitting, putting my project on hold to do some dirty work under the surface, I can take some time out with my life, letting God do some deeper healing that I have been kicking down the road.
I hear a whisper in my soul saying that the hard work of true wound-healing will be worth it. A deeper, richer, fuller life awaits on the other side.