There are many passages of Scripture that refer to gifts both actual (teaching, preaching, laboring, marriage, ordination, single life) and spiritual (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness) these are always accompanied by a sense of, no, a requirement of generosity. These gifts are meant for the other in our life. These are meant to share. If we keep these gifts to ourselves (which, if my life experience says anything at all, will diminish over time if we keep them). When we keep our faith to ourselves it will diminish over time, doubt creeps in slowly over time causing us to wonder where & how God is working in our lives. We feel as though we are spiraling out of control, nothing is working right and we can’t quite put our finger on the why of it.
When we finally reach the bottom and look up for help there are generous people waiting to give us a hand. We can see and experience the help they’re offering as we are finally open to the reality before us. We can see, once again, that our gifts are for the other and that it is in sharing those gifts that we find joy, peace, growth, patience. It is that pruning experience, bringing us closer to who we truly are in God’s Eyes. This is never easy. In fact I daresay it’s damn hard work.
We often ask why God would do that “to me”. In all reality it is not God who does this “to me” rather it is we who allow this to happen to ourselves by being less generous with the gifts God has given. It’s hard to recognize this. It’s hard to recognize that it is in giving that the doors and windows open to us in ways that we never expected.
Last week I had the privilege of attending a Reunion/Retreat for a sewing machine company. All of those attending are Ambassadors in some way for this company as Artists, Bloggers or Media folks. We were there to learn more about this company, the new machines that are on the market, give and receive support. For myself it was the first time attending the Reunion. It was an amazing experience in part for what I learned but more for the people I learned to know and spent time talking with. I am more certain than ever that I’m in the right field (quilting) and doing the right thing (teaching). The other long-term goals that I’ve held for a long time are a bit fuzzier around the edges now as I am no longer certain that these are the right goals. One goal I had a long time ago has been renewed and weirdly it’s something I said to someone I never want to do. I really should know better than that.
Why am I sharing all of this? I chatted with the gal who heads up the program and said something to the effect of “maybe I’ll go back and share what i learned”; she very quickly reminded me that I will go back and share what I learned because she knows I will share what I’ve learned.
While we spent a lot of time learning about the machines and the company it was spending time with one another that meant the most to this quilters heart. I left encouraged in a way that feels so hard to describe. What this did confirm for me is that no matter what the profession I am in there is a ministerial aspect. I am reminded that what I do as a teacher: encouraging and supporting my students through the learning process, helping them to see that they are smart and intelligent and that with time and patience they can learn the process of machine quilting and improve their skill. The most important component of learning to machine quilting is sticking to it, knowing deep down that there are going to be challenging parts but those parts are going to teach you the most.
Just like many experiences in life the fruit of this week will be borne down the road – just like it took me a while to realize the beauty of the rose I hacked back to the root-stock. I’m looking forward to what comes over time, I want to be open to where God leads and realize the beauty of the challenging times over the last year. I want to be open to the gift God has allowed in this pruning experience that I may better share these gifts that God has given in a way that honors Him.