Authors Note: I am not apologizing for anything. I read a post the other day on one social media platform, then a related post on another that reminded me of my very strong take on the word Just and the tendency to judge people when we don’t know where they’ve come from or because of their age or how they approach a particular craft/skill set. In writing this post feels a little wander-y. I’m okay with it as God writes stright with crooked lines.
In Scripture when someone is called Just they have learned to love the Lord deeply and follow in his ways. This goes beyond a “moral code” and deeply into living the Commandments of Loving God and neighbor to Living that Love of God and neighbor. A Just person looks for the good in others, recognizes faults and works toward guiding others to that same Loving of the Lord so deeply that where we lack, another fills in those spaces. We recognize the gifts of others as complementary to our own without envy and jealousy. We trust that whatever struggles we have, whatever propmpts us to sin (turn away from God and neighbor) God will use in someway to His Will and Purpose.
I did dig a little deeper for the specific definition of Just. And as I thought this word holds within itself a myriad of defninitions depenedent upon use from someone who follows the law or specific moral code to one use as an adverb meaning “only or simply.” I do love descriptive words with nuanced and deep meanings. Several years ago I suggested we remove this word, Just, from the quilters lexicon as we tend to use this as a way of diminishing our work, clarifying for our viewer some flaw that is glaring (to us) pointing it out, “see! see! it’s not perfect” we share with lowered voice and downcast eyes. There are other words we use to diminish our work too, this one is just so.
I’m just a beginner is easily said as I am beginner. This form of just is often used as a way to say that my quilting isn’t as good as yours. As a teacher and encouraging sort I perfer the second as it gives me an idea of where you are in your quilt making journey without comparing oneself to me (or any other quilt maker) with some sense of shame or fear of harsh judgement. Over and again with quilters who point out the mismatched seams or bobbles in their quilts I will say that I didn’t see it. What I see, what I’m looking at is that you made this thing, you worked hard to make this complicated thing. Quilting is a complicated form of art, not simply because it’s three layers but because of the number of choices we make as we go along. Please know that “good enough” is a valid choice and one that should be exersized frequently as finished and being loved and used, is better than “perfect” any day of the week.
Before I move on in this post on quilting I’m listening to some beautiful music. I appreciate the gift of this woman’s voice, that she practices and uses this voice to draw others into the experience of worshipping the Lord. I love to sing, and will sing here at home and at Church with joy and enthusiasm, off-key but I sing. My off-keyness doesn’t diminish my deep appreciation for the skill and talent of those who can sing. Here’s the thing, I won’t apologize to those who can sing on-key and well for my enthusiastic off-key signing. I won’t pursue a career in singing, for it is their work, it is their call in life. My own work and call is in the world of quilt making. We each have our own unique gifts that need practice to hone and grow. We also practice our faith to allow it to grow in us and transform us into the woman of Faith God created us.
As quilt makers we begin somewhere and those beginnings show the difficulties we experience. Quilting is a beautiful and complicated art. In our head we see a finished quilt, the steps to getting there are complex from choosing a pattern and fabric to cutting tools, thread choices, machine or hand, batting choices. I’m new. I’m inexperienced. I need more practice, but I’m not sure how. Quiters as a cohort are generous and will offer assistance either in the form of advice or here’s where you can take a paid class.
I’ve had a faith life that I remember since I was eight or nine and there is still that experience of being a beginner in faith. There is a newness in reading Scripture, in hearing the experiences and parables again and seeing something, experiencing something very new in them. Our Lord is allowing me the opportunity to deeply experience His Love and see these long held views as a beginning rather than a final statement. That the truth of the experiences of women mentioned in Scripture and in our Eucharistic Prayers is not quite what I understood, and this is good. This is good because what I am hearing is God’s love for the beauty of women.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity to learn to long arm quilt with all the remembered beginner feelings that go along with it. I share the hiccups intentionally so that other new to long arm quilting folks can see that this stuff happens.
We each have a unique path to quilting and to growth in holiness. There are colors that get our creative juices flowing; there are those who’s faith stories speak deeply of God to our soul. I recently reached out to a friend as I struggled with the inner voices of “not good enough” “not worthy” “you suck” and their friends, she prayed for me and offered some words of encouragement that quelled those voices. And then
“The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will care for you tomorrow and every day. Either he will shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace then and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginings.” -St Francis de Sales
It’s time to work on St. Francis de Sales Introduction to the Devout Life. I’ve tried reading it before and set it aside as it seemed a little, oh it’s hard to describe. I suspect it’s the same kind of experience some have with St. Therese of Lisieux, on the surface she seems a bit syrupy sweet, and yet when you dig in a bit more you realize this young woman had a rod of steel in her spine one that gave her great confidence in God and the will to pursue His Love with determination and passion.
It took several tries to title this post and reflection and to come to the realization of why “just” bothers me so much. It always seems as though I’m apologzing for being a new quilter, a machine quilter, a skilled quilter, a fairly good teacher, a woman of faith who is desiring of growing, of knowing I *need* to spend more time in prayer, who has lived a distracted life, who has almost lost her faith, who sometimes desires to run screaming from the quilting world because deep down I do not feel worthy enough to be here and to do the things I do. There are times I do need to examine my words and actions and apologize for poor judgement and/or bad behavior or deeply hurting someone. That is vastly different for apologizing for being a beginner. It is vastly different from being skilled and putting out my best work. There was a time when I said to a quilter that I wanted to be like her when I grow up, it is a backhanded compliment. I admire her skill, I admire how she’s able to put that skill to work to create beauty in her quiltng, to draw people in to her work. I wish I’d said then that I admire her skill and how she’s developed this skill set.
Sisters, quilters, please know that being a beginner is a good thing and there is no apology necessary. I am glad you are here as a quilt maker, as a woman of faith.