My Life with God

The Stitches of a Marriage

quiltI’ve been working on a quilt to give my youngest daughter and her fiance when they get married this summer.

I’m a basic quilter. I use simple designs and hope the quilts will get used for years, perhaps generations, to come. While I admire my artsy quilter friends and the phenomenal creations they make, I prefer to stick to the basics. Probably because of all the quilts stacked and used in my parents’ and grandparents’ homes throughout my life. They were warm and cozy, and I loved to look at the fabrics and stitches and wonder about the stories behind each detail.

I machine piece and hand quilt. That means, I spend most of my time making small stitches to hold all the layers of the quilt together. It’s a big time commitment, especially with this king-size quilt, but I’m quilting it well. I want it to last.

One of the things I enjoy most about hand-quilting (and other handiwork and housework) is the opportunity I have to pray for the people who will receive it. Whether or not anyone ever uses this quilt, the prayers cannot be put in a closet. I’m investing beyond fabric and thread.

This is the first marriage quilt I’ve made. As I look at the stitches, I’ve reflected on so many different aspects of marriage.

Most of my quilting follows the lines of the seams. It provides strength as the quilt gets washed and spread out and folded through the years. While the lines to follow are straight, my quilting stitches sometimes meander a bit. It reminds me of how we do our best to follow God’s instructions for marriage, but we aren’t perfect. We go a bit crooked at times.

I try to be consistent in the size of my stitches. From a distance, it probably looks as if my stitches are the same, but I see up close. Stitches are slightly different lengths. It reminds me that no matter how consistent we try to be in marriage, we “short” some things and make others too long. In some ways, that’s okay; it shows our unique personalities. But we don’t ignore the need for consistency–just allow for flexibility. We still try.

I go through a lot of thread, and I need to secure the beginning and end of each piece I use. I can’t leave big knots, because they’ll get caught on something and the thread will break, causing layers of the quilt to separate over time. Hiding knots isn’t just for appearances. It’s practical. But those knots are important. Like marriage, we need to be secure, knowing what holds us together and taking care to set those things firmly in place.

The front of the quilt always looks better than the back. The front shows the full pattern. The front is my focus when I stitch. The underside is a bit less consistent, but it’s all the same thread. The back of the quilt is just as important as the front. It’s not a quilt without all the pieces, even if we only typically see it from one perspective. Like marriage, we can’t just look at what we want to see. We need to keep a broad perspective and appreciate the things we’d rather ignore at times: difficulties, vulnerabilities, hurts, and so on.

As I move my hoop to continue quilting, I realize I’m dealing less with layers and more with a cohesive quilt. What once was pieces is becoming a whole. The pieces don’t disappear. They remain intact. They simply get firmly stitched together to create something more.

Marriage is the same.