A couple of times, I've had the chance to talk to groups of my friends about how my life is like a patchwork quilt.
When people ask me where I'm from, there are a lot of answers, because I've lived a lot of places – like pieces of a patchwork quilt. I like variety in a lot of things, and many things make up the important parts of my life – like pieces of a patchwork quilt. I wear a lot of hats as a wife and mom and daughter and teacher and friend – like pieces of a patchwork quilt.
My friends listened politely, nodding and smiling at appropriate times, as I explained how my life is like a patchwork quilt.
I picked up a quilt block as I described my childhood. My early childhood was nice and neat, like that crisply-pressed quilt block. I had my mom and dad, and my brother and sister. I had grandparents in town, and grandparents far away. I had my best friend who lived down the street. School was good – life was good!
When I was almost eight years old, something happened that changed my life. My dad died of a sudden heart attack.
The polite group of ladies gasped audibly, involuntarily, as I sliced through that quilt block. Yes, I did. I just cut through a perfectly good quilt block.
When something like that happens in life, they say it'll either make you or break you. I'll be forever grateful for my mom's reminders that God always loves us, and God always does what's best for us – so we need to look for the benefits God will bring, even in & through tough situations.
Looking back, I realize that I began to pay a lot more attention to God at that point. I was already a Christian – I had understood what's simple enough for even a small child to understand: God is perfect, and I'm not - I've done wrong, and only Jesus can make me clean from that wrongdoing. Only Jesus can make me perfect enough for heaven. As a small child, I had asked Jesus to do that, to be my savior. But the Christian life involves spiritual growth, too, and spiritual growth really started happening after my dad died.
Even though I knew that God loves us, and that God always does what's best for us, there were times when I was frustrated that my family would always be “different” from everybody else's. I knew that most of the “important” people in the Bible had weird family situations. Queen Esther had no parents & was raised by another relative; Joseph's brothers hated him and sold him into slavery; David was the youngest of a whole bunch of brothers, and got the boring shepherd-job, etc., etc.
My friends raised their eyebrows, as I cut through the quilt block again a time or two. Sometimes, our situations in life might not be what we'd have planned.
I was surprised (and deeply encouraged) when a preacher pointed out a new aspect of those hero-stories in the Bible. God didn't just work through & in spite of unusual family situations: God designed those families to get those people ready for what they, specifically, were supposed to do and be in life. God was preparing Esther, her whole life, for her role as queen and deliverer of her people – without Mordecai's influence, it's doubtful she could have done what she did. Joseph recognized God's hand in bringing him to Egypt, to rescue everybody from the famine – even though his brothers meant harm in sending him to Egypt – God planned it for good. David, as the youngest son, spent lots of time sheperding sheep, while his brothers got “important” jobs – God was preparing David for the time when he would shepherd the people of Israel as their king.
What I found encouraging was the fact that there was a plan. A design. God was doing things on purpose. Yes, God always loves us, and yes, God always does what's best for us. AND, God is always in charge, and nothing takes Him by surprise. God custom-designed my family – to be what each of us in the family needs, to prepare us for what He has for us in the future.
I rearranged those pieces of cut-up quilt block, into a recognizable design, and showed my friends. The original quilt block was stitched together with the intention of cutting it up and rearranging it. I had to cut it to finish the design. There was a plan, and it was going to work.
Many of my favorite quilt designs involve sewing pieces together, and then slicing right through them. They work best that way, and they turn out looking amazing. (But if I were the quilt-block-in-progress? Looking great, and then getting everything dismantled and rearranged? Yeah, it would be a little confusing at times.)
All of the quilts pictured on this page are quilts that required cutting through some already-sewn patchwork.
So - when life finds you feeling like some perfectly good patchwork is being sliced up, remember this: God always loves us, God always does what's best for us, and nothing takes Him by surprise. Sometimes the plan involves cutting up some perfectly good patchwork. But there is a plan, and it's going to work.
This is a bit of my story ... a bit of how my life is like a quilt. It's not eloquent. I don't know whether or not the analogy is theologically-impeccable. But I hope it encourages you to trust God a little more, and look for His working in your life.