September 30, 2008

One Crimson Thread

From every experience, interaction and emotion we weave threads into the fabrics of our lives. From which we craft a “wardrobe” for every occasion. A bright pink sash of joy. A breezy cotton tee of comfort. A scratchy burlap sweater of suffering. A thread-bare vest of regret. A tattered shirt of self-sufficiency. We cling to old favorites—which often aren’t the most comfortable. We layer just in case. And often we change with frequency to rival a super model.

With our kids away this weekend Dan and I were blessed with a rare treat to spend 24 hours alone together. From start to finish, I should have crafted a comfy blanket of love and stayed bundled inside.

At least the weekend started that way.

On Saturday night we enjoyed a long overdue date and saw the movie, Fireproof. (Side note: This is a must-see movie for anyone who’s married or thinking of getting married. It’s honest, raw, wrenching and beautiful. Rarely have I seen a film delve so deeply and truthfully into the one relationship that’s the greatest gift from God yet receives the greatest heat in our lives—our marriages. Fireproof presents the gospel message in a moving and incredibly relevant way. Since the divorce rate among Christians and non-Christians is virtually the same, Fireproof’s message is universally necessary.)

After the movie we caught a late dinner, but because of the distractions from the Penn State game on the TV and a waiter who wanted to rush us out so he could go home, Dan and I didn’t reconnect as I’d hoped.

I wove in a few strands of regret.

On Sunday morning we attended a Mission Sunday service at a nearby church. They’d invited members of our church’s Dominican Republic missionary team, including my hubby, to participate in the service. Maybe it was worshipping in a new church. Maybe it the familiar hymns of my youth. Maybe it was listening to Dan and our good friend share their moving testimonies. Maybe it was the young people who spoke of a new life in Jesus because of a mission trip they attended this summer. But God moved in that place among those people—and among me. I sensed His presence in a way I’d been craving for some time.

A shawl of godliness cloaked my shoulders.

I was lost in my own thoughts, relishing the God moment, as Dan and I drove to his sister’s house to pick up our son. Part way into the hour-long drive my husband realized we’d forgotten to bring our nephew’s birthday present. The same one he’d forgotten to take with him the day before.

I calmly replied, “No, it should be in here. You put it in the car earlier.” (I’d seen him take the present into the garage to put into the car.)

“Oh, I thought it was trash, so I threw it away," he responded.

Trash? A gift bag with a card and tissue paper and a present inside is trash?

In the blink of an eye, anger shredded the godliness that enveloped me. How could he be so careless? And this wasn’t the first time something like this happened. I’m ashamed of the angry words that came from my mouth.

I simmered for the most of the ride, eventually and reluctantly accepting the olive branch my husband offered. Inside I wondered: how had I gone from marveling at God in one moment to freaking out at my husband the next? I felt like a big fat Christian hypocrite and a horrible example.

Threads of guilt intertwined with the anger.

After a brief chat with my SIL and BIL, we gathered our son and headed home. We weren’t 10 minutes into the trip on the rural winding roads before we saw cars stopped ahead. An accident had just occurred. It was bad. Bumpers, tires, metal and glass littered the asphalt. A mangled car jutted into our lane. Others rested at odd angles. But what caught my eye most of all was a body lying completely motionless on the grass—a few feet from my side of the car. We didn’t know if the man was alive or dead. A visibly upset woman was with him and told us an ambulance was on the way. My husband got out to see if he could help. I stayed in the car with our upset son and prayed.

The police and EMTs arrived moments later so we cleared the way and let them do their jobs. On the ride home Dan told me the man was alive, barely, and another person was trapped in the car.

Swatches of sadness covered us.

When we somberly arrived to pick up our daughter from her youth group retreat, I hoped to weave some strands of joy into my increasingly tattered tapestry. Instead we were greeted by a sullen teenager whose sum total of describing the weekend was, “It was fine.” The evening went downhill from there.

By the time bedtime arrived I was ready to hit the restart button. This was supposed to be such a great weekend. I surveyed the frayed edges and torn garments strewn about and wondered what happened.

I thought of the apostle Paul, “I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.”(Romans 7:19-20, NLT) It’s such a conundrum. Despite our best intentions, the power of sin is so great.

Life had happened and I'd focused on feelings not faith. But feelings lie, they’re fickle, they rely on our external circumstances and they put ME at the center of it all. So humbly I gathered my homemade rags and brought them to the only One who could salvage the mess.

Forgive me Jesus for once again choosing my wardrobe over yours.

Like Paul said, we want to do right but we don’t. And the enemy is ever-present offering supplies and ideas for the handiwork of our own making.

But God loves us so much he sent Jesus, the master Tailor, to provide better garments. Righteous ones. Yes it takes time. And yes we make mistakes along the way. But when we humbly offer it all He takes our worthless, fraying remnants and crafts them into a quilt of glory. And grace.

And He stitches it all together with one crimson thread.


“I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” ~Isaiah 61:10

11 comments:

Sue J. said...

When we see all of the tatters of life piled high, how amazing it is to know that Jesus sees that beautiful quilt!

Such a rich piece, Kelli--thank you for sharing so much!

Peggy said...

Thanks Kelli....
you know just when and what to say for me to remember just who I am.
I am also one whohas a tattered pile of clothes.
There is also a story which came to my mind about a tattered quilt, when I find it I'll send it to you.
Thanks for letting us know that we need God's constant with us, close and warm in our hearts and lives.
So true are your words.....
Blessings and Love,
Peggy

Kathryn said...

Mmmm, Kelli, how powerful! Thank you for sharing that experience.

May the Lord richly embroider your day!

PS-I loved "Fireproof"!

PPS-I can identify with the trash story. EARLY one morning, about 10 years ago, we were traveling 13 hours to celebrate Christmas with our extended family. I had gifts "hidden" from my two-year-old daughter in a black trash bag. Although I had explained to my husband which bag was trash (to be left at the curb on our way out!) and which was "treasure", guess what ended up in the trunk of our car?! :-)

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, you're not the only one who identifies with Paul's words in Romans. It's comforting to know, though, that even Paul experienced the same struggles we do.

Dan said...

Kathryn - thanks for sharing your story...so, your husband's mistake actually made it all the way to the curb? I feel oddly vindicated. Of course, your presents were in an actual trash bag, so I guess I'm still on the hook for this one. I'll also take the heat for the football game distraction - seriously, the game just happened to be on and very visible from our table. And, as I've already explained to Kelli (who has become quite the Nittany Lion fan herself over the years), the words, "Hey, Mac - turn off that Penn State game, will ya?" will never EVER pour from my lips! (Great blog, Kel - thanks for not making me look too much like a schmuck!)
- Dear Husband

Patty said...

Hey Kelli, loved it. Also loved Dan's comment! Thanks for your powerful message, and also for reminding us of where we need to turn during those times. I also enjoyed Palin's blog.

Justin said...

Kelli,

Wow! I've read some great blog posts from you, but this one tops them all. I love the extended metaphor perfectly inspired by Scripture, as well as the rich theological insight into each moment of the weekend.

Most of all, it encourages the reader to see God present and active in the workings of his or her own life. Very cool.

Thank you for blessing me with this blog post.

Romans 15:13,

Justin

Smith Fam said...

Powerful writing! God has gifted you!

Steph

Debbie said...

Kelli,

Thank you for being REAL. Thank you for not allowing your readers to think you have it all together. Thank you for allowing Jesus to minister to others through your pain. He is the one that will pick us up and help us to move onward and upward, forgiving us, and showering His grace upon us. That’s what keeps me going!

Love, Deb

Christine said...

Kelli,
This is a beautifully written piece. Over the past several years I've tried to work on not allowing my feelings, expectations, and moods to affect my relationship with God. I found myself having unrealistic expectations and always waiting for WOWS from God and Hallmark moments with my family. I have learned that the
simple unexpected moments in my life bring me the most joy. Seeing my boys exchange a quick hug, a beautiful bird on my feeder,or running into an old friend are all signs of God's constant presence in my life. Looking at life this way has made me a much happier person. Although I'm still working on Christmas. I still become a complete Martha Stewart psycho during this season!!! God has given you a beautiful gift so keep up the good work.
Love and Blessings, Christine

Barb said...

For an 'ordinary girl' that was some pretty awesome writing!!

How beautiful to see, step-by-step, what we do with our lives and how Jesus redeems us.

I was very blessed by your thoughts - I'm sending a friend to read it, too.