I like to finish what I start. I mean, who wants to be a quitter? No one likes failure. To get over some obstacle standing in my way I usually coach myself through it by saying things like, "Are you going to let this beat you?" and "You can do this!"
Once in a while, though, I realize I'm not going to win. No matter how hard I try, it's just not going to work out the way I want it to. It's hard to swallow my pride and admit defeat, but that jagged pill goes down eventually and I move on.
However, I learned a lesson recently. My sister Molly is a great example of seeing things from multiple angles. She opened my eyes, through her own experience, to learn something from a project I've been working on.
I like sewing. It's a fun little hobby. I'm no professional, but this isn't my first time either. I started working on a dress for myself last month. As a mother of three, I expect projects to take a while. I just work on it when I can and eventually it gets done.
This dress, however, is a different story. First, I didn't have enough material for all the pieces. I decided to add in some other material and get creative with the design. (Uh, that's always a risk.) Then, as I completed the top part, I tried it on to make sure things were fitting right. WHAT!?! Major problem. The top wasn't fitting the way it should. I checked the pattern; I checked the pieces. I couldn't tell where I had made the mistake. Or maybe the material was making it fit differently? Maybe it was just the pattern? Either way, this dress didn't fit. I didn't have any more material to start over. I'd either have to fix it somehow, or scrap the whole thing.
I got to thinking of ways to fix it. It would mean unpicking work and redoing several pieces. That didn't bother me too much. I learned from my mother that when you sew, you gotta be ready to unpick and redo work in order to get it right. My main concern, however, was what I saw in the mirror. I couldn't tell if I'd even like the dress. If I did manage to fix it, would it be worth it? Would I put in all this work and end up with a dress I only wear once? (That's happened to me before, so...)
I decided to call my mom. As the seamstress who taught me pretty much everything I know, I figured she'd have some perspective and help me iron out this little wrinkle. I was surprised when she suggested I just forget the whole thing. What!?!? Give up??
In that same conversation, she also managed to put wind back in my sails (moms are amazing at doing that) and I decided to go ahead and try to fix it. Even if it didn't work out, I reasoned, I could turn it into something else - like a skirt. I wasn't ready to admit defeat yet, and with renewed energy I set to work fixing the pieces.
I fixed, and fixed, and re-fixed. I attached and detached pieces. Surprisingly, I didn't feel frustrated. Maybe this dress was a challenge for improving my sewing skills. The fixes I made did work. But, then another challenge would come along. Hmm... what to do?
I pray pretty regularly, so when I hit the first snag, I prayed about whether it would be worth finishing. I had this thought, early on, that maybe this dress was meant for someone else. That thought made me feel cheery, and I think that contributed to my overall good attitude.
After all the changes and fixes, the thought came again, that this dress was well-made, but made to fit someone else. Despite all the improvements, more design flaws appeared based on how the dress fit ME. So, maybe it isn't meant for me...
Sometimes as we strive and strive to do something, we look around us and see only failure. We aren't getting the results we hope for. Maybe, we reason, we just need to try harder. So we try harder. Still nothing that looks like success. Are we wasting time and energy?
In my personal scripture study during the week, I was reading from the Book of John chapter 4. It's the pleasant and layered story of Jesus talking to the woman of Samaria. I like that story. But, buried in the verses, I came across this statement from Jesus.
"...One soweth, and another reapeth." John 4:37
Ah-ha! See! Jesus is telling me that someone else will reap what I have sewed!
Okay, I couldn't help that joke. It was just too perfect. But, Jesus does goes on to explain that it's not a simple formula of "I reap what I sow". There's a mixture of efforts that includes other people, not just me. And that makes me happy.
This dress will move on, to be reaped by someone else. Whoever does receive it will have to put in some labor of their own since it isn't finished. But I hope she will be inspired by what I have started. Or maybe she will be inspired to turn it into something else!
I don't exist only for myself. Whatever effort I make in this life, is for the good of someone. Maybe that "someone" is me, maybe it's someone I have in mind already. Maybe that someone is coming along to finish what I started weeks, months, or years ago. The real success comes when I put in honest effort, learning and growing along the way. The outcome might not be within my control, but I can feel happy knowing that every good effort sowed, will produce good fruit. (Matt 7:16-18)
Ahhhh. Now I'm free to go sow... I mean sew, something else.
|The dress that I sowed for someone else.|