Everyday Grace · Liturgical Year

Starting Over.

For a little over a year I have been plucking away at building this sweater.

IMG_2098

Yup! Gorgeous, cabled, cardigany wooly thing that it is, it has taken me a very long time to craft. I am making it with the yarn we bought on our honeymoon in Ireland, oh… you know, two and a half years ago.

I put a LOT of work into the planning of this sweater. I did a swatch, chose the correct size needles, measured myself more than once, read up on adjusting sweater patterns to make it a perfect fit, and then the knitting began.

And, then, recently, I got to an exciting stage in the knitting adventure. I finished the body of the sweater; everything but the sleeves. I flung it over my shoulders in front of the mirror, wrapped the cardigan halves around my waist and… it didn’t fit. It is too small. I tugged at the cardigan halves, willing it to stretch just a little bit, but no. The best I could do was to make them kiss in the middle around my belly button.

I looked closer and saw the gentle curves at hip and bust I had worked in to make it fit just right. They are there. The proportions are marvelous. It’s just a size too small.

I put the sweater in a drawer for a while, thinking, I’d figure something out. I knit up one of the sleeves to see how that would go. It fits, but it too is skin tight. No layering with this cardi. Which of course, given there are no buttons on the front, would be downright scandalous.

It’s not going to work,” I thought to myself. “I need to start over.”

Starting over isn’t fun. It feels a whole lot like failure. It’s humbling to be reminded even by something as little as a sweater disaster that sometimes we can’t just keep trudging forward. There are times when we have to pick up the pieces, retrace our steps, and find the starting line again.

Lent is a good time to start over. It helps us take a step back, see what went wrong, make a new plan, and begin again.

For my sweater, it will begin with the slow and careful rip, rip, rip of undoing the stitches of knits and purls and cables that make up my mistake. I’ll watch the ball of Irish wool grow to soccer ball status again. I’ll print out the pattern and circle different numbers reminding myself to knit differently next time. I’ll cast on, I’ll construct the border, I’ll retrace my steps.

Because I need to start over.

This Lent has reminded me of that in a number of ways. It has helped me reexamine how I had been using my time. When Lent began, I had felt overwhelmed, busy, stressed out, never feeling like I had enough time. But then, Lent. Simplifying. Turning away from things like Netflix binges and mindless games on my phone.

It was like someone took me by the shoulders and shook me. I woke up and looked around and realized,

This isn’t working. I’m going to have to do things differently from now on.

The quiet of Lent has helped me examine how I was giving my life away to the lesser gods of “mindless” distractions. I had convinced myself that I needed them, because of work, because to unwind, because why not? But they were not restorative. They left me feeling just as tired. And they were sucking the time out of my life leaving me feeling stretched thin when really I am far from overcommitted.

So, I start over. And I reach back to reading books that I enjoy, blogs that I enjoy. My mind wakes up. I sleep more. My body is restored. I sit in prayer and am able to reflect. My soul is strengthened. I stretch out my arms with satisfaction and say, yes! This fits!

Starting over isn’t fun. At first, it feels a lot like failure. But finding myself on the right path after having been trudging down a dead-end road for far too long, that doesn’t feel like failure. It is energizing, life-giving, satisfying, good.

As we reach the halfway point of Lent, where are you seeing the need to start over?

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