It was a calm weekend, one where the kitchen was clean and the sewing machine was out on the craft table. I had shooed the two older boys out to the backyard, and I was listening through the open window as they argued and played, argued and played.
My goal was to create quiet books, the kind where you sew a bit of a plastic page protector to cardstock and essentially create a write-on, wipe-off board. The first seam went well, but just as I started the second, the thread slipped out of the needle leaving empty punctures where I had envisioned a zigzag stitch.
Since I was working with cardstock and not fabric, those holes were as noticeable as potholes on an otherwise smooth street. Where I had wanted perfection, I now had an ugly snag. And the only way to bind the slick page protector to the cardstock was to rethread the needle and make more punctures. I knew glue wouldn’t hold for long, especially with such a slippery surface.
I thought of books and newsletters, of staples and lasting binding. All holes. All punctures. I thought of paint slapped on polished wood, ready to chip almost as soon as it dried. And paint applied to a rough surface, forever in the cracks and crevices of a concrete overpass. It seems nothing binds for long when perfect and smooth, when only surface level is applied to only surface level.
I like surface level, where everything looks glossy and everyone gets along. I’d rather skip talking about my spiritual shortcomings and my irritating habit of leaving shoes in a pile by the door. But that’s a slippery way to bind a relationship that you want to keep, one that will hold tight when troubles and time tug.
God seems to have no problem poking holes in my struggles. My faltering patience gets sewn in with a panel of grace. When the needle strikes next, it’s my nagging self doubt that’s forever pulled tight to touch the fabric of his greatness.
The puncturing always comes first, though, before the healing. It’s uncomfortable at times, and unpleasant. No one likes the feeling of needle pricks or of sandpaper on the soul, but it’s necessary to scratch at the smooth surface, to dig a little deeper. There’s just no other way to bind hearts.