In junior high I had a short-lived interest in latch hook. For those who don’t know, latch hook is that form of pseudo-sewing where you use a latched hook (duh) to loop yarn into a grid-like backing and make rugs, pillows, wall hangings and other fuzzy decoratives.
My first latch hook project was a Raggedy Ann pillow. It was small, colorful, and because latch hook is ridiculously easy (hence my proficiency), I finished it in a couple of days.
My next project was a different story. I chose a large rug with a small pattern of a dog and cat at the center. I feverishly set to work, looping strand after strand of yarn through the massive canvas. It wasn’t long before I noticed my enthusiasm for the project wearing thin, primarily because I’d completed the interesting part — the dog and cat. I’d alternated brown, black, gray, pink and white yarn, and eventually saw the expected picture emerge. I marveled at how cute the animals were and applauded myself for being so creative (as creative as one can be in latch hook, which in hindsight is “not at all”).
I then assessed what on the rug I had left to complete. Staring at me were rows and rows — and more rows — of beige.
That latch hook rug is how I’ve often felt about the Christian life: a few bursts of color surrounded by rows and rows of bland, boring sameness. I grew up in a Christian home and had an early life peppered with Sunday school, prayer meetings, Bible quizzing, youth group events and generally little in the way of faith-shaking experiences, whether good or bad. I ingested what I was taught and could spout it back on command.
It wasn’t until after college that life started getting interesting. All of a sudden I felt more responsible for my faith, relationships, sin and related issues (most of which I’d been previously blissfully unaware), and I noticed that the more I grew, the more I was disappointed by myself and others. But as I sat under great teaching, loved (and didn’t love) others, confessed sin, grappled with unmet expectations, and watched my own faith ebb and flow, I noticed something.
I noticed progress.
I’m not saying that the Christian life is spreadsheets and goal-setting and dashboards, but a Christian life that is lived faithfully (if imperfectly) is one that will grow. Over the years, I’ve learned to fight biblically. I’ve learned a more complete application of grace. I’ve learned that it’s not about me (bummer). And I’ve learned that my story, while at first glance pretty milquetoast, is something that God’s been shaping and using through the years as I interact with both Christians and nonbelievers.
That latch hook rug got chucked in the trash; I never finished it. But my faith is alive, well and in use daily. It still has its rows of beige, but I’m trusting that if I stick with it, the end result will be spectacular.