How do you measure up?

Photo by Charity Banks.

By Kristen Banks

In quilting, or more specifically piecing, which is the act of sewing different small pieces of fabric together to make the larger whole which is the top of the quilt, accuracy is of the utmost importance. It has to be when you’re taking dozens, if not hundreds, of tiny little squares of fabric and trying to make them all fit together into one harmonious creation.

If you are so much as 1/16 of an inch off on very many pieces it can make several inches difference one way or the other which can throw the whole work off. And when you consider that fabric has a tendency to stretch, fray, and pucker as you work with it the probability of you being that accurate is about as likely as you being able to thread a water hose through the eye of a size twelve between – which is a pretty small needle if you aren’t savvy.

When piecing our tops, some of us will start out with squares that are too big, and they’ll have to be trimmed back a bit, which I can’t imagine is very fun for the square. And then some of us will have pieces that are just too small, so other larger pieces will have to be brought in to help the small squares make up the difference that they’re lacking.

Some of the squares will be cut with precision from the beginning, but through all of the twisting, turning, and repositioning of the process to put them together they’ll get stretched all out of shape. Those pieces will need a lot of intensive care to ever fit back the way they once did. Sometimes it seems like it would be easier to just toss those parts aside, and start over with new ones. However, someone with a little experience, finesse, starch, and a hot steam iron can apply just the right amounts of heat, pressure, and stability to restore those segments to a beautiful, functioning, integral part of the quilt.

When the individual pieces have finally been set together to complete the top, the last thing that is left to do is to take it to an experienced quilter. A good quilter will be able to adjust and cover those areas that have issues. She’ll be able to manipulate, fold, fine tune and reconcile those little problem places until she finally works out all of the rough spots. When she’s done, she’ll bind it up, and present to you a beautiful whole finished quilt. And you will soon forget and find it almost impossible to tell that your quilt started out as anything but perfect.

I like to think of us as the pieces, and God as the quilter. Although most of us are trying to achieve perfection in our own little square of life, we’ll be nothing more than a solitary shape with sharp edges if we don’t join our lives with others to make something greater than ourselves.

Some of us will start out with more than others, and we’ll get trimmed back, which never feels good. And then some of us will start out with less, and as uncomfortable as it may feel we may need help from others to make up the difference. Then others will have to endure while life takes the best parts of them and then stretches and pulls them to the point that they don’t feel useful anymore and that they’ll never be able to be put back right again.

None of us can achieve perfection on our own. We can try our best, but the reality is that our best is not going to be good enough. The fact is, we’re better together than we are apart, as we bear with one another and each take our strengths to help make up for the others differences, we are joined together into something that becomes greater than ourselves.

It isn’t always fun, and it can be downright scary and painful at times. But, if we entrust our lives into the skilled hands of the Lord to use his wisdom and precision to work out the problems, smooth out the joints, unify us, and bind us up He will turn what we consider deficiencies into perfection. And I for one can find no fault in that.

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