Frustrating tasks are even more frustrating when they were SUPPOSED to be simple, amiright? Take, for example, happy eco-friendly scrap-bustin' snack bags (made from this tutorial)! Hooray! Easily made, nice way to start the school year, make my machine sing after being neglected while I was at inservices, right?
But then she started acting up. The thread wasn't catching, or it was breaking and curling up on itself. So I switched thread. Same thing. Grr... Maybe I need a new machine? This baby's vintage, after all. Maybe there's something gumming her up?
Boldly going where no little seamstress had gone before, I opened her up, allowing my secret mad scientist / cyborg aspirations room to breathe.
Even grosser! Lint and dust and thread and grime, oh my! I used an old chopstick and a glass-headed pin to their best advantage (technical tools, I know!)
Proudly modeling my flathead skills...
And hey-presto! Snack bags! All it needed was cleaning...
... and if that were true, this would be a nice, tidy three-point sermon of a blog post. But no. Although the bags did turn out, the thread continued to gum up AFTER the cleaning. Grr...
So what happened? Any clues?
[pregnant pause for effect]
It had to do with the needle. It had to do with the fact that I was using mismatched velcro. The fuzzy side was industrial strength (read: public school teacher-strength) self-adhesive, the prickly side was sew-in. Not trusting the adhesive to survive a washing, I figured I'd sew it down, too. After going through the trouble of cleaning the machine, I realized that the adhesive was so strong its residue on the needle was wreaking havoc. Goop would get on the needle, thread would stick to the goop, and the thread would stretch and pull and snap! On the third bag, I sewed extra carefully so as not to catch the adhesive. Still, it gummed. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't keep my needle clean!
And then I knew what I had to do. If I put the bag together, sewed the seams and the prickly side of the velcro, and only after all was done would I adhere the fuzzy side, then the needle would not come in contact with the adhesive and all would be well.
So I tried it. And it worked. I made the last bag and stuck down the fuzzy velcro at the very end, then turned it out. Beautiful, beautiful completion! Sigh...
Was all the trouble of cleaning the machine worth it, even though the problem wasn't the machine? Yes. My machine is healthier and can run smoother without all that linty gunk, and I now have the knowledge of how to clean it! Having gone through that, I am better equipped both for the present and the future!
Here's the metaphor: sometimes in life it's worth going through the process of trying to figure out what the problem is in your heart, even if it takes awhile to diagnose, because in the course of investigating, other things get cleaned out that wouldn't have been addressed otherwise.
And then, some parts of life only work out when they come into place at a very specific time. Because of the nature of the materials I worked with, that last bit of velcro could only be applied at the very end, but once in place, the project was complete! Because each of us has a unique history, the "best" for our lives is unique to us. What works for one person at a certain time can be disastrous for another person if given the same thing at that time.
All you ladies and gents reading this blog, I am on a journey, and I think we all are. It seems there are places in all of our hearts that are tender--desires that seemed to be fulfilled only to let us down, places where we're in pain because of unmet longings. Although it hurts to be there, I think my heart is like my sewing machine, and maybe that desire is that bit of velcro. There is a time for the project to be complete, and if in the process I get cleaned out, however uncomfortable it may be, well, it's got to be worth it.
They say faith is blind, but blindness only eliminates one sense. The others may be sharpened and in operation. I believe God talks to us in ways we understand, and I believe He really does heal our hearts, not so we can please Him but because He loves us and is really, really kind. Am I blind? Maybe. But I'm not deaf, mute or insensible, and I believe He is kind because I've experienced His kindness, and I'm willing to be opened up and cleaned up because He's been patient in winning my trust.
May you find yourselves in relationships as open and trusting and life-giving as I find myself in. And may you make your snack bags with sew-in velcro, not self-adhesive!