One of my favorite ways to learn how to sew certain garments is to study a finished piece, take it apart, and use it as a new pattern piece.
For those who do not know much about sewing, the typical way to pattern is to either buy or draw your own pattern parts on paper and begin from the foundation of several pieces separated. What I am saying here is that I like to separate first, and then reunite rather than take separate pieces and unite them.
I believe that God works in a similar fashion. It seems like the moment in our life when we finally "have it together" is the moment when God asks us to 'give it all up and start over.' Does that resonate? Have you ever been guided to let go of what you've worked so hard on? A career? A relationship? Have you ever been asked to start over completely?
Going back to patterning, why does my brain operate better when I begin by tearing down a finished piece first?
I see the seams. I see what type of stitch they've used. I notice all of the places where one piece comes together with another. It's real and tangible. I feel the type of fabric they decided to use.
When I'm beginning with pattern pieces, they are flimsy pieces of paper! Sure, I have guidance on what part goes where, the types of fabric, and what type of stitch and seam allowance is suggested but my brain cannot seem to function as quickly as when I take a garment apart first!
It hit me the other day: God separates us first.
God does not want us to be satisfied with perfection because perfection leads to righteousness. Dare I ever say, "This is perfect!" It seems like the moment that I say those words, I catch a flaw; whether it's in my sewing work or my relationship. God, instead, wants us to learn repentance.
Oof, I know--that word triggered me at first! So, I want to be gentle here, as God was with me when I wanted to flip the table over like "I have nothing to repent! I am enough as I am!"
We usually hear repentance in the form of "confessing your sins" or "feeling remorse and full of regret." While it is true that this is a part of repentance, to repent actually means this:
To change your perspective
In today's culture, we shame guilt.
We take a normal feeling that is helpful to us; guilt, and we take a feeling that is unhelpful to us; shame, and we point shame's finger at guilt's personhood.
What I'm trying to say is that guilt is good and healthy. Shame is not. Jesus knew this & he taught it.
We have to learn the difference between the two and I will be the first to say that many denominations in Church culture do not know the difference. It's a dangerous field so we have to tread lightly with our man-made interpretations as if it were a minefield. I will also say; I'm still learning this. I'm not a know-it-all but rather, I have a desire to know better.
Why is changing our perspective so difficult in today's culture? Many times our perspective is based on our feelings alone. If it's not based on our feelings alone, we will seek out evidence but most of the time, only the evidence that supports our feeling.
Oftentimes, we use our feelings to determine our identity, and thus, changing our perspective feels like a death sentence--or perhaps, like too much work. Like demolition on a house.
I know that feeling all too well. A while back, I wrote a post about requesting that I do not be 'labeled.' It was an innocent post and one that I had written, rewrote, and wrote again before I posted. This happened over the course of two months.
Uh, yeah. Sidenote: Many people offer compliments to my social media posts & what they don't know is that it sometimes takes me a month or two to even post it because what may have been true in a moment can quickly change in another. I'm mostly here to share my personal story of demolition and rebuilding--not to be a guru.
So, I wrote this post and I had no idea that it would offend so many people. Those who have known me for a decent amount of time found no bother in my post. I've always been this way & while I've grappled with society trying to force me to be someone I am not--pick a label and stick to it (e.g., conservative, republication, liberal...)---I could never move the needle much in one direction or the other. But it gives me anxiety that I can't describe. I started to wonder if I developed agoraphobia from it. Like, people were legit scary to be around.
Here's another story. One time I was in line at Collectivo Coffee when I lived in Milwaukee and a random guy approached me. He said, "Hi ma'am. How's your day going?"
I could tell that he was interested in me; if you know what I mean. I responded and then his next question was, "Are you a Christian?"
Shocked, I said, "No, I'm not."
His next response was, "Really? I could have sworn you were. That's too bad! I only date Christian girls!"
LOL. Then, he was gone! I legit did not see him in the coffee shop for the rest of the time. I've thought a lot about this scenario--especially since back when he asked me I had never opened a Bible in my life. I started to think, "God, was that a prophecy? Were you trying to tell me that I need to be a Christian girl and find a Christian man?"
If I listen to a million different Christian podcasts to find my answer, then that answer would have probably been yes (which I will admit, there are some AMAZING Christian podcasters who could easily convince me--shout out to them).
But instead, I decided to keep listening to GOD personally--not through another vessel. I kept asking that question over and over again until finally, I realized the pieces of the answer were coming together.
God kept repeating this statement, from the random guy, to me. "I could have sworn you were."
Suddenly, I knew the answer. If this guy could look at me and KNOW that "God is with that girl and she is with God. I swear I see it."---then why do I need to be a Christian to announce it? God was still WITH ME even when I told him I wasn't a Christian.
I listen to God personally--plain and simple.
When my identity is grounded in man-made labels, then repentance feels more like shame and betraying the world. When my identity is grounded in my relationship to God, then repentance feels more like changing my perspective for the betterment of myself and the world.
By the way, I understand that in certain situations, one needs to pick a side--especially when faced with a moral dilemma. I study these aspects too. I have not left them out of view from my vantage point. I also don't have all of the answers & if I believe in repentance, then I obviously believe that my point of view can and will evolve and change...
So, without furtherado,that's kind of my point--God wants us to evolve so he builds us a house that we think is so strong and sturdy and then, he sends us a Big Bad Wolf to blow our house down.
Then we rebuild--this time with different material-- and we are so sure that THIS house is "perfect." Sure enough, here comes the Big Bad Wolf again...
I think you know where I'm going with this. It's a process.
Build your house with God & when God tells you to tear it down, build again with God.
Wherever you are building, let God be the blueprint.
Even if it hurts.
Even if you don't understand it.
Even if you are tired.
And here's the twist in my story.
Although my brain enjoys learning by taking a whole garment apart first, my brain enjoys building by starting fresh.
As you can see from the first picture, I don't use the same fabric to reconstruct. It's faulty now. It has holes. I've worn it a hundred times already. It's not sustainable because I've ripped the seams apart.
In other words, better to build a new roof COMPLETELY than to live with a faulty patched-up hole and potentially have a raccoon tear that faulty patch down & give birth to eight babies and then, fall through your ceiling at 4 in the morning---TRUE STORY!!! We should have just fixed the entire roof once we knew the problem, you know?
Taking apart a garment that is whole, separating the pieces, and reconstructing is God's way of teaching--it's the process-- but God's exchange policy is simple: once you learn, move from those dark, worn-out, and depressing clothes and walk into dressing rooms where garments of praise await you!
How does that sound?
Lord, I pray that you infuse my writing with the love of your words. I pray that if I overstep or mistake the love of your words that I will notice, admit my false statement and move on with the trueness that you so gracefully give to me in return. Lord, I pray that the people reading my blog feel that is a safe space to rest in their own reflections and that if it is your will to reach them, lift them, or transform them in the way that you have done to me, then you will let it be done. In the name of God, the son & the holy spirit, Amen.