Forty Days of Prayers for Quilters Day ? Failure, potential and the like

Sometime over the last year or so Theology is a Verb showed up somewhere on social media, enticing me to follow. When Elizabeth shared Unfulfilled Potential the first time I thought this is cool. On/off over the last bit she’s been re-sharing posts as Worth Revisiting. Recently I read Unfulfilled Potential I experienced one of the, “God is speaking take time to listen” moments.

“Consult not your fears but your hopes and dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what is still possible for you to do.” Pope John XXIII

Several times in the last couple of weeks I’ve talked about fear in relation to quilting specifically, and life generally. Like other emotions fear is a range meant to protect us to paralyzing, not permitting us to do anything lest we fail. Fear, a healthy respect for, our power tools is a good thing, while it doesn’t always prevent things like, say, stitching your finger, or the rotary cutter blade coming in contact with with some appendage. Fear of failure and making mistakes is one of the places in the quilting world that is sometimes paralyzing. What if my seams don’t match? Well there are a couple of ways of problem solving this: I can take a seam ripper to it and fix, check my measurements and cutting, or say, “eh whatever” and move onto the quilting. There are times when I do each one of these things, and times when I encourage quilters to do each one of these things.

The same goes with the machine quilting. Oh the problems solving I’ve done here. Whew i could write a book on it. Oh wait I did. And this is the catalyst for the conversation. In talking with someone yesterday, more on that when I have some info on when it comes out, I realized and said something to the effect of, instead of pushing through the fear I walked with it but didn’t let it rule the work of quilting. Yeah this seems like a bit of wordplay however having lived it,
“what if they don’t like it” – some will, some won’t
“what if the quilt police arrest me for _____insert quilting offense here____,” – there are NO quilt police, though some quilters would have you thinking otherwise
and “what if this doesn’t work” – try something else, use a seam ripper, try a different technique, call a friend, take a class

I have lived in the whole, “what if I fail and really suck at being a quilter.” There are places where I’ve made mistakes both in the making and in the doing my best to be a teacher/writer/quilter and the quilt pro thingy. There are times when I’ve given into the fear and let it rule me, tell me what to do, beat me up and it’ll happen again. And there are times when I’ve given fear a good listen to and in the most unladylike manner told fear where to step off.

I have lived in the fear of “what if they don’t like my book” and then realized in these recent conversations that some will, some won’t. I will say though contained within those pages is some good quilting stuff that quilters can use. One of my favorite things is the needle and thread pairing chart, it focuses on what I use on a day to day basis.


Fear of failure is related to fear of being excluded or harshly criticized for our work not being up to some perfectionist standard, whether that perfection lives in our head or in the minds and mouths of other quilters. Failure leads to problem solving, problem solving leads to better understanding and technique, better technique leads to better work. Fearing failure is a problem and thank goodness for all of Thomas Edison’s failures, and I’m sure Isaac Singer, and all the quilters I know who have failed in someway only to find a technique, a product a thread, a way of doing things that worked.

When I started this post, referring to the Theology is a Verb’s post, I was thinking about connection, I will revisit that piece soon. The connection this morning is the way that as quilters, as creatives, as women, as a people of faith we, I, let fear rule me, rather than acknowledging it, asking for information, and moving on. Fear in our faith life prevents us from being fully loved and realizing our call, mission, vocation and the endless possibilities in that. We miss being LOVED by God. I am a glorious mess.

May walking with fear bring you to new life,

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