Rosie's on my lap, face snuggled up on my chest, one hand twisting my t shirt. I'm knitting, soft pink yarn and it snakes down from my needles, loops gently around her toes to the ball balanced between my ankles. We're a cuddly pair on the couch after everyone else has gone to bed, when suddenly - I give what must have been an extra powerful tug and the ball of yarn hops right up and onto the floor. Like a kitten, Rosie sits quickly up and hops right after, chasing the ball as it rolls across the room.
"Oh well," I think."Let her. I'll get it in a moment."
But a moment is all it takes for a huge mess to happen, which is exactly what does. In just a moment, Rosie manages to make one of the most horrific yarn knots I have ever seen. I spend the rest of my knitting time for the evening working on untangling the enormous mess and fall asleep soon after, not having knitted one more stitch.
When I was a kid, I remember being in absolute awe of my mother who was truly able to untie any knot and untangle any mess, no matter how enormous. She'd say "Here, let me have a look," and like magic those tiny hands of hers would get to work with an amazing lack of agitation or annoyance and voila! In what seemed like no time, everything would be back to the way it ought to be.
I think about knots and tangles and parents all the next day, but especially when things start to get a little bit ragged. There's a lot about this life that just looks like one big, insurmountable mess, a tangle that I could never possibly undo. Almost from the get go, our tidy little lives hit snags, or bounce off in the wrong direction just to end up all messed up, all knotted up in an overwhelming mass of things we did wrong, or things that didn't go as we planned. It can be disheartening at best, and at worst make you just want to cut the whole thing free and toss it in the trash. It takes time, patience, commitment to see the work through. And in the midst of trying to figure out how to find your way back, it can be so easy to just plain give up.
In just a moment, we can make messes that take a hundred times as long to clean up. I know it; I've done it. But when that time is put in, those hours devoted to setting things back to rights, you can get right back to the work of creating something beautiful.
The thing about messes, in yarn and in life, is that ignoring them? Doesn't make them go away. It just makes them dusty and sad tossed in a basket in the corner, never to become what they were meant to be. It takes Someone putting in the time, effort, commitment and care to see it through. It's how God takes our messy, tangled up, riddled with mistakes lives and is faithful to straighten it all out to make us into something new. Something spectacular. Something that doesn't even look one bit like the knotted up mess it once was.
So when I snip the final thread on that finished project? I remember that He's not done with me until I'm perfectly finished, even when I've been tangled right up. And I'm so, so thankful just for that.
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