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What does the quilt of your life look like? God is designing it. It has dark scraps, neutral scraps & bright ones too. It takes all kinds to make a quilt pop. Each individual scrap may not be stunning for the overall quilt to be beautiful! It took me a long time to figure that out. #quiltoflife #quilting #quiltedbygod

photo: marthagbrady

You may have noticed a few signs of quilts or quilting symbols here and there lately on my website. Why? Because from quilting I have learned so much about life and been reminded of many spiritual truths as well. Since quilting is part of my life, I decided to have it be part of my blog as appropriate.

One thing I have learned about quilting. Well, actually it is the piecing. The quilting part is the final part where it is all sandwiched together and either hand or machine stitched with a decorative design. The piecing is the part where the individual pieces of fabric are chosen and put together. That is the part I love. This is where you need to understand a bit about color…even if you choose a scrappy, apparently random design.

If you are older like I am, you look back on your life and often see lots of scraps pulled together into blocks and blocks pulled together to make the one quilt. If you moved a lot, you see the 5 year blocks here, and the 10 year blocks there. It is no accident that some of the colors are neutral. Some are dark. Not all the pieces of fabric are beautiful. In fact, some are rather ugly by themselves.

GOD is the designer of your life-quilt, He has a purpose for each dark scrap, each ugly piece of fabric, each bright spot, as He pieces it all together to make a lovely quilt.

Why? Because if you choose colors that all have the same intensity, the quilt will be very boring, You need a variety of intensities of color so the quilt will pop! You need light, medium and dark colors in the mix or the quilt will not be a beautiful quilt. It will just stand there and make you yawn.

Quilting taught me to use more neutrals. I’m not fond of neutrals in real life. To me, they are a bit boring. I like color. But a quilt that has only color and no neutrals is not very pretty. In fact, it can be garish. You need the neutrals to give your eye a rest. You also need them to set off the colors. We need time to rest and think as well as time for fun and liveliness. Neither is better or worse. Both are needed in a healthy life.

We can’t keep going at a frenetic pace and not pay a heavy price. Look at Jesus’ life. He led a busy life for sure. But look how often He took time away from people to spend with the Father. It is a lesson I struggle to learn over my lifetime. But another one I had to learn was to enjoy doing things that were fun and enjoyable for me.

In my 40’s, after a car accident, it caught up with me when I had chronic neck pain out of proportion to my injury. The doctor I went to gave me a list of interventions that might help me and told me to work my way down the list and see which ones helped and toss the ones that didn’t. About three helped including counseling. I was encouraged to do something fun each day or week or something. I don’t remember now. I just remember being shocked at how delightful it was. At the time, I had 2 teenagers and no drivers. I was driving all over Miami, FL taking them places for activities + working part-time. Life was crazy. The idea of taking time to do fun things for myself, even if it was simply stopping for lunch with a friend, was a pretty wild thought. (no starbucks back then.) I was shocked to find out what a de-stressor it was.

 And I am sure of this,
that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6 ESV

…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,
for it is God who works in you,
both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Philippians 2:12b-13 ESV

What would your life-quilt look like if you were to look at it now?

Now as you think back over your life, think back over the kind of quilt your life would look like. We all need some dark colors to make a beautiful quilt. We need those neutrals to make the colors stand out. We need the ugly scraps mixed in with the beautiful to have a really beautiful quilt. It has nothing to do with the beauty of each individual piece. It has much more to do with the whole quilt and how it fits together to be beautiful for the designer.

I look back now over a life that an onlooker might consider to be rather ordinary. There hasn’t been much about my life that has been stunning. But as I look back, I think of all the delightful people that have passed through the entirety of my life and I have lead an amazing life!

I have met and known a wide variety of people who have lived all over the world and come from a variety of cultures. I have learned about people of all kinds from the patients I have cared for and the people who have been in our churches. Some look at pastors’ wives and think of them as protected and somewhat naive. And some of them may be. I started out that way a bit in this sense. I thought people in church who claim to be Christians were different from everyone else.

I was wrong. In most ways they are the same. They have feelings like everyone else. They grieve when they experience loss. They hurt when people are unkind to them. They are given hope when encouraging words are spoken over them. The one thing true Christians have that others don’t have is the Holy Spirit in them who helps them desire to do what is right…against all odds. He works change in true Christians to make them into the people God wants them to be. But everyone of us sins and fails. Not one of us lives up to what we would like to be.

So we must recognize that each of us is growing. None of us have arrived. The confusion in a church is that we don’t know the true Christians from the ones who claim to be Christians, but aren’t. It’s not our place to decide for sure. It’s God’s.

He is the Designer. He is growing your life-quilt. You only see a piece or a block at a time. He sees the whole thing. The finished product is stunning.

If you are in the middle of one of the dark pieces, hang on. He is working. If you are in the middle of one of the beautiful pieces, hang on, He is working, but enjoy this season. If you are in the middle of one of the neutral, apparently boring or tedious periods, hang on. Use this time to prepare for the rest of your life internally. Grow deep. You will be glad you did.

Action Step: Write down where you think you are now.

  • If you are in the middle of a dark period, remind yourself of Scripture that gives you hope; where can you get input for further encouragement from your church? worship service? small group? Bible study? regular participation? notifying pastor/women’s ministry leader of need for help? Is there anything you do for joy?
  • If you are in the middle of a joyful period, are you able to look around at others in need of encouragement? Are you staying involved with your church? a small group? outreach ministry in your community?
  • If you are in the middle of a neutral period, are you staying connected to your church community? Are you able to see the routines of life that may be dull, are still part of God’s plan for you and have purpose? Are you reaching out to people around you in your neighborhood or community? Are you willing to try some new ways of ministry/outreach as your schedule allows?

I’m merely trying to prime the pump as I ask these questions. See where they lead you. Ask God to guide you as you think about these questions.