A few posts back I mentioned knitting Teva Durham’s Cabled Riding Jacket, a beautiful, form-fitting jacket, but only accomplished via an intimidating, advanced knitting pattern. It took almost five years from when I bought Ms. Durham’s book, Loop-d-Loop, before I finally steeled my resolve to knit the jacket. A few things hindered me. First: I didn’t consider myself to be an advanced knitter. Second and third: Not only did the instructions for the pattern seem so complex and confusing, but I also knew I’d be coming at this pattern backwards, for I’m a self-taught left-handed knitter. Fourth: Online comments from fellow knitters, discouraged with a certain part of this pattern, had me questioning the feasibility of completing such a project. (Since those comments, errata are available here.)
The point is that for several years, I allowed my own insecurities about my knitting skills plus the frustrations and doubts of others to inhibit me from giving the pattern a try.
How many of us, I wonder, have avoided certain projects simply because the end results seemed too complicated, too unachievable with our limited knowledge? How many of us have given up on a dream because the path seemed impossible to traverse from where we stood at the crossroads? (I’m raising my hand, too.) Did you know that every knitted project I’ve ever done has been accomplished one row at a time? I know, I know: That’s obvious. Duh! But that means when I was knitting along on row 10, I really shouldn’t have worried about how I would handle integrating all the side notes and “At the same time” portions of the pattern—because I wasn’t there yet! It wasn’t until after I arrived at those sections that I had a better understanding of the instructions…and by then I found it easier to manage!
Life is like knitting. We can only take it one row—one day—at a time. Often, however, we allow ourselves to get overwhelmed thinking about our schedules for next week or next month, or we get panicky over where we might be (or not be) a year from now. And we exert mental energy trying to figure out all the “what if’s” that could happen between now and then to ensure we have a game plan for every scenario. (Okay, maybe I should change all those “we’s” to “I’s”.)
My husband and I are reading through the calendar-version of Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, and one of its recurring themes is learning to focus on today. What does God want me to do today? What does He want to teach me today? I’m not promised tomorrow or next month, so while there’s nothing wrong in making loose plans for the future, to fret about that future wastes time and effort better spent on living in the present.
For example, I have young children ages ten and seven, and over the years I’ve heard many people say, “Oh, just wait ’til they become teenagers!” (A non-threatening way to imply it’s bound to get worse than it already is.) Considering how society seems headed in the opposite direction of my Christian values, I have a tendency to worry about how I’m going to steer my girls through that tumultuous period of life. But here’s the thing I have to remember: I don’t have teenagers yet. God hasn’t equipped me with the strength and wisdom and patience I need to handle teens because He’s equipping me with what I need now to handle my tweens. (And who knows? Maybe by the time I get there, I’ll find my kids are generally obedient, loving, and respectful. If it could happen to my parents…)
In the end, there’s something extremely freeing in knowing I don’t have to agonize over tomorrow; God’s already there and He’s got my back. All He’s asking me to do is take care of today—and He’d love it if I held His hand while I went about it.
So the next time you find yourself face-to-page with a daunting knitting pattern, just remember to approach it row by row. Taken in stitch-sized segments, it won’t seem so overwhelming.
Taken in daily doses, Life isn’t so overwhelming, either.
“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matthew 6:34 The Message, copyright 2005.