James 1: 2 – 4 Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Matthew 5:48 So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Awww yes. Perfection. It’s the one thing we all strive for in the Christian life. It’s not an easy thing as by our very nature we are just not. And I’m not talking about original sin, I’m talking that we’re just human and unintentionally make mistakes along the way as we’re trying to figure out what works and love people the best we can in that moment. We’re trying to love ourselves in these moments. Or more to the point we’re trying to learn to love ourselves. Mistakes, then, are opportunities to reflect and grow as human beings and as Christians. While we can not take out the erasers or have a complete do-over we can learn to see and hear and touch differently; to be gentle with ourselves and with others.
What I woke up thinking about is perfection in quilting. We all want it and it means different things for different people. My friend Paula (Too Funny Quilting) has a saying, “finished is better than perfect” and she’s right. Finished is better than perfect. For most of us a usable, functional, good-looking quilt is just what we want and need. And for ourselves that is often fine. However when we start giving quilts to other or making quilts for competition there is a shift, there needs to be a shift in our thinking. We need to aim for perfect. Often that aim for perfection starts with the first quilt.
I frequently get to talk with inexperienced quilters – it’s a rule as a teacher. (I love teaching quilting!) I tell them several things:
Your quilt, your rules
Most people won’t see the “flaws” they’ll see the love
There’s no such thing as perfection
We quilters put our hearts on display
Yes I am a competitive quilter and I want my quilts as well done as I can make them, however I can tell you in great detail the location of each and every flaw. My machine is 6″ in front of me. You bet I know the locations and I can remember when I stitched them in and making the choice to keep going or rip it out only to make the same mistake again. Bang.Head.Here!
I have to tell you I’m strange when it comes to this whole perfection thing. I want to be joyful in my quilting, not perfect. If what you see and experience in my quilts is joy then I’m good with it. Oh don’t get me wrong the seam ripper and I are good friends. Perfection is no longer my quilterly goal. The quilterly goal is good, joyful work.
In my faith life I want to strive for perfect (I’m still learning what that means) and truthfully I think that includes, it has to include being gentle and compassionate with others and with myself.