By Kristen Banks
A few months back I started a quilt because it looked fun and easy. The pattern was pretty simple though, so I thought I’d “jazz” it up a bit. It called for using two different fabrics in contrasting colors. Instead I decided to use four different primary colored fabrics for my star points AND four different low volume fabrics for my background. I chose red, green, blue, and yellow for my star points. Then I matched the red and green, and yellow and blue in pairs. I chose a separate background print to match up with EACH of the four different colors.
But that wasn’t good enough for me, oh no.
Next I decided that not only would the points be in color pairs, I would also alternate the color sequence. So, for instance, the first row would go yellow blue, yellow blue, and then the next red green, red green. And instead of duplicating this arrangement, the next two alternating rows would be the reverse color scheme with a blue yellow, blue yellow row and a green red, green red row. I was pretty proud of myself for coming up with this plan, and was patting myself on the back for how smart and creative it was.
At this point in the story you are probably terribly confused, and so was I. What seemed like a simple and fun task turned into a nightmare. I think I ripped rows out at least four separate times, which was no simple task. I even sewed a row back on upside down after I had already ripped it out once for that same reason. Let me just tell you, it was a mess! I ended up giving up on the quilt after days of frustration and tucked it away in a project box to hopefully be long forgotten.
Months later, I decided to tackle this headache quilt once more in hopes of finishing it. The first hour of work went about like all of the previous hours. I made mistake after mistake, and thought about giving up for good. I ultimately decided that I didn’t have anything better to do that day, so I might as well keep working on it until dinner. I took a deep breath, stopped stressing about it, and just worked steadily along. I finally finished it, it turned out looking how I imagined it to look, but I felt pretty exhausted and left wondering how it turned out to be the hardest quilt I’ve made in a long long time.
Recently I was in need of a quick and easy quilt to demonstrate for a group of quilters I was speaking to. I reluctantly chose this same quilt to demonstrate as the original pattern fit the bill, and I couldn’t come up with a better plan. I decided that I would make it again, and this time I would make it the way it was intended to be made. I knew it would go a lot quicker and easier if I kept it simple as the pattern suggested, but I didn’t know if it would look as good without all of my “tweaking.”
I started the second quilt with just one color for my star points, and a package of pre coordinated prints that could be used randomly together for a “scrappy” look for the background. And it only took the completing of one section to realize that this quilt was not only going to go together more rapidly, but it was also proving to be as pretty as or even prettier than the first.
With this second quilt I let the fabric do all of the work instead of overcomplicating things with an intricate design. I had a more enjoyable experience and it required far less effort as I simply enjoyed the ride. Plus, my stress level did not reach into the red as it did before with my first go round. I began to wonder how many other things in my life I had made more difficult than they had to be with my own imagination.
God has a good plan for each of our lives, and sometimes that plan looks more humble or less exciting than we might have imagined it. Our human nature makes us want to “improve” on His plan, and we can put a great deal of time and effort into this endeavor just to end up stressed out, in the middle of a mess, and headed in the wrong direction. When the reality is, if we just set back, have faith, and let Him do the work, then we might just enjoy a smoother ride with a much more fulfilling outcome.
There is no mess so complicated that the Lord can’t unwind it, and there is no direction so far away that He can’t guide you back home to where you belong. And all that’s required is a willing heart and a simple faith to achieve the kind of success you’re looking for.