When I was in college, I went to see the campus counselor for several months because of something that happened to me when I was little. Worse things have happened to other people, but it was damaging enough that I felt I should see a professional to help me figure out how to deal with it. She was a nice lady, but when I told her about it, I’m pretty sure she was thinking, “That is really not that bad.” Okay, maybe she didn’t really think that, but I honestly don’t remember anything we talked about that helped me feel any differently about it. I know some people have dealt with worse, but that doesn’t mean that it was okay for this thing to happen to me.
Both of these seemingly unrelated things came to mind as I’ve been wrestling with my One Word. For a couple weeks I’ve been working a riff on these lines about weaving:
Warp means "that which is thrown across.” Weft is an old English word meaning "that which is woven." The method in which these threads are inter-woven affects the characteristics of the cloth. Because the warp is held under high tension during the entire process of weaving, warp yarn must be strong. The warp of a fabric, in other words, acts like a net to capture the weft, holding these threads firmly so that they will not escape, causing the textile to unravel.
I have been putting a lot of effort into the concept of warp. In trying to focus on figuring out how to put my unravelings back together and what characteristics I want my life to have, I thought that establishing the warp, especially for the context of writing about it, was pretty important. I felt that I needed to clearly define the warp and focus on it for a while. The sentence "Because the warp is held under high tension during the entire process of weaving, warp yarn must be strong" initially inspired me to write about how “love” is the warp. I mean, isn't that how love is? It has to be strong and made out of something substantial. It can't be just a distraction or something half-hearted. There is so much tension there – with who we love, how we love, the love we accept – and how God’s love allows us to live out love in the right way.
But that post would not come together. I worked on it for days and it never made sense. As much as I strive to do everything out of love, I don't. I'm flawed. My life doesn't fit into a neat metaphor that way. I’m still sorting through so much, which isn’t a task with a clearly defined beginning and end. I'm so busy reading and listening and learning and living and dealing with the new and the old that I can’t set a timeline for figuring everything out or saying that everything I do can be summed up in something so perfect. And I refuse to pretend something that isn't reality just because I've committed to the word “weave” for the year and want to write something pretty about it.
At about this point in my frustration over the mess I seem to be making, I realized it's not love, it’s me. I am the warp. My life is the warp. I'm not the one weaving, not really. I know that I am making choices daily about what I make my life out of, but there is so much out of my control. I may be making decisions about what to incorporate into or leave out of the pattern, but I'm not entirely in control. I am the one in the tension, in the process, and the weaving is happening whether I’m trying to make it happen or not.
Is God the one weaving? Maybe. There was a time when, just like the friend I mentioned earlier, I tried to believe that God was up there directing every detail of my life – from the grade I got on a test to finding a pair of shoes in my size on sale. But I just don’t believe that now. I do believe we are created in God’s image and I do believe that God is there, but I also think many things just happen. They happen as the result of choices or sin or... who knows? Maybe a butterfly wing fluttering or a tree falling unheard in the forest. I have to do the best I can with what I have and with what happens and try to hold on to hope – hope that somehow, long after my present has become my past, the characteristics I end up with are mostly good and what has been woven is strong enough that it doesn't unravel.
This is why the weaving is more about taking what comes and figuring out what it will be in my life. It doesn’t mean not caring or not being as intentional as possible, but there are many unknowns and unforeseens and I can’t control all of it. Some things are just going to happen, even if they shouldn’t, and some things are going to turn out far differently from what I had planned. There will probably be times I realize that I’ve focused all my efforts on incorporating something, only to find that it doesn’t belong. There will probably be times I suddenly notice something vital that has been there all along, but that I didn't see until something happens to make it obvious. I know there will be times of unraveling and reworking, especially as I learn and live and grow. And as frustrating and painful as that will be, it is real and it is okay.
I’m learning that I am strong and I am getting used to the tension. I guess I will find out if I am strong enough to keep up with the process.