A Tangled Mess

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5–6 NIV

It was the mother of all yarn tangles.

In 40 years of crocheting, I never experienced the tangled mess that confronted me last week.

We were on our way home from South Carolina after a week-long visit with our daughter and her family, and I planned to work on the poncho I’m making for her as a late birthday present. I’d wanted to finish it while I was there, but other activities—more fun—called me away from my project.

The pattern was rather monotonous—75 rows of one stitch, a single crochet that tended to make progress slow because the rows got longer with each round. It didn’t help that I had to tear out 10 rows because of a wrong stitch that affected the rows following it. Two and a half hours of work unraveled in less than a minute.

But I was determined to finish her gift and finish it right. While it wouldn’t be perfect—I’ve learned to cover most of my mistakes—it would be warm, cozy, and something she asked me to make.

We were two hours into the trip and I was making good progress when the yarn tangled. Now, I’ve had yarn tangles before, but this one was the mother of all yarn tangles. Don’t ask me how it got so hopelessly snarled, but the more I tried to unravel it, the more twisted it became. And it wasn’t just the end of the skein—I’d used only half of the 370-yard skein.

So I snipped the yarn, put the poncho-in-progress in the back seat, and began untangling 185 yards of what resembled a big bowl of cooked spaghetti.

I worked the rest of the 10-hour trip and still hadn’t finished when we arrived home. DH, my usual yarn untangler, unraveled the rest of it in an hour after we’d unpacked.

Crocheting—especially yarn tangles—teaches me a lot about life. Here are 10 principles I’ve learned:

  1. You don’t toss something away because it looks hopelessly messed up. Don’t waste something that, with time and patience, can be made into something good, useful, and beautiful.
  2. Sometimes things just doesn’t go as planned. Indeed, as John Lennon once said, “Life is what happens while you’re making other plans.” So, you recalculate.
  3. It can take only a second to undo years of work. Pick yourself up and begin again.
  4. To get through the rough spots, cultivate determination and perseverance.
  5. Correcting mistakes is important if you want a satisfactory result. Even if it means undoing much of what you’ve done. Even if it means starting all over.
  6. Mistakes CAN be corrected. You just have to want to make them right.
  7. Just because you think your life is monotonous doesn’t mean it isn’t adding up to something worthwhile. Yes, the rows get longer and take more time to complete, but keep the end result in sight to give you the fortitude to push on through the monotony—and maybe even find joy and fulfillment in it.
  8. Slow progress and setbacks teach patience, and patience helps you to persevere to the end.
  9. You’re not alone. I didn’t unravel the mother of all yarn tangles by myself. By the time I got home, I was sick of it. But DH picked it up and finished it. So it is in life. Folks—I call them angels in disguise—come alongside us and help us to the finish line.
  10. You have to learn to accept help. And, even more important, know when to ask for it.

The mother of all yarn tangles now rests as a ball of yarn in my crochet project basket, waiting for its time to be made into something useful.

Thank You, God, that You can take this tangled mess I’ve made and make it into something beautiful. Amen.

Read and meditate on Romans 5:1–5.

 © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Pushing Through the Pain

 

 

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. –Romans 8:37 NIV

My 15-year-old granddaughter Madison loves volleyball. So much so that she spent all summer working to stay in shape for the upcoming season. Good thing, because when volleyball practice started, the sessions were intense and physically demanding.

“It’s a good thing you love the sport,” I told her when she described the grueling (to me anyway) exercises she had to do.

Imagine her disappointment when, after the first match, she sustained an injury to her back. She texted me from the chiropractor’s office: “I’m out for two weeks or longer.”

Then, on top of that, a sinus infection kept her home from school the day of the second match of the season.

But don’t stress, Grandma. Right after the “I’m out” text, she sent me another one: “Never mind. He said if I do special stretches and go to the trainer, I can play.”

She may return to her beloved volleyball on Monday, but her injury, which affects her sciatic nerve—and you know the pain that comes with that—won’t be healed for at least two weeks. But she’s going to play through the pain and sinus infection because she loves the sport with a passion.

Then there’s her older brother, Brent, a senior. He decided last year to go out for football, changing his sport from baseball.

I had my reservations. I know these players take a pounding, and Brent suffered some serious injuries playing baseball, including at least one concussion and a compound fracture of his upper arm.

“I’m going to buy you a big roll of bubble wrap for your birthday,” I told him.

But Brent set his goal to make the team and began a self-imposed program of endurance and strength training. He put on weight and studied the game. And made the team.

He scored the first touchdown of the season for his team (and the first touchdown of his career) in the first game. And the team voted him, a first-year-player, as their captain. (Grandmas are allowed to brag.)

Imagine his frustration (and mine) when, after all that work and all he’d accomplished, after that first game, he ended up with shin splints. And you know how painful those can be. So down to the trainer he goes. But that hasn’t taken him from the game he’s come to love.

“The only way they’re taking me off the field,” he told me, “is on a stretcher.”

Yes, this tangled bundle of bandages and tape came off Brent’s leg after practice.

And so he endures ice baths and miles of ace bandages and tape.

I recognized a familiar disappointment that settled in my heart. My own kids were involved in sports and also suffered pains and sprains, which I felt kept them from performing their best.

But now I look at my grandchildren and their determination and grit, and I realize that no one who truly plays a sport escapes injury. If you give it your all, you’re going to get hurt. It’s just the nature of the game.

And the nature of life itself.

We’re all playing with pain, aren’t we? Whether it’s physical, mental, or emotional, whether it’s apparent or hidden. We’re the “walking wounded.”

I used to think it was better to back off when pain flared. It’s human to want to avoid pain.

But we can’t live our lives in bubble wrap. Pain, I’ve learned, can develop our character, strengthen us, and drive us to the One who has a plan and purpose for it. Now I’m seeing the importance of pushing through the pain and giving life my all.

Like my grandchildren, we have a choice. We can moan and groan, wallow in self-pity and bewail our luck.

Or we can man up and push on, refusing to be benched—until they take us off the field on a stretcher.

“I have come that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life to the full” (John 10:10).

Are you living life to the full?

Help me to embrace all You send my way, O Lord, even pain, knowing You have a plan and purpose for all You allow in my life. Grant me sustaining grace and a willing spirit. Amen.

Read and meditate on Hebrews 12:1–13

MORE TEA: Some quotes on pain

I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.  ~ Elizabeth Elliot

God never allows pain without a purpose in the lives of His children. He never allows Satan, nor circumstances, nor any ill-intending person to afflict us unless He uses that affliction for our good. God never wastes pain. He always causes it to work together for our ultimate good, the good of conforming us more to the likeness of His Son (see Romans 8:28-29).  ~ Jerry Bridges

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(c) 2017 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.