Image is of Stirling Castle in Stirling, Scotland. More info can be found here.
This originally appeared as a weekly evo for whillschurch.org
Last night we opened Christmas gifts from my Dad and Mary while they were on FaceTime. (By the way, this is just one more reason why I think the iPhone is best invention ever. But I digress.)
Mary is my stepmother who turned my son and daughters to the dark side. She discipled my own kids against me right under my nose to become Auburn fans. I was powerless against her. My dad has questioned my paternal leadership because of this. My only response has been – she’s your wife and you couldn’t stop her either.
As the wrong kind of orange and blue presents were being unwrapped, my dad asked me – “How many Christmases is this for y’all?”
“Too many. I’ve quit fighting it.”
We will have Christmas with my Mom and Dad (stepdad). Christmas with Dad and Mary. Christmas with Amy’s parents. And then our kids will get the gifts we got them as well. It’s ridiculous and I’ve fought this for so many years and lost every single time. It’s hard enough for parents to win against one set of grandparents. Try three.
But 35 years ago, I would have never seen this day as a possibility. That was when my world was put upside down by my parent’s divorce. It wasn’t common back in the 70’s particularly in the Deep South. I had never heard of it. Didn’t even know that was possible.
But it was happening to me and it wasn’t pretty. At age 7, I understood little of what was going on. I just knew that my world was completely shattered and changing in ways I had no control over.
A very dark thread.
Black threads on a tapestry add depth, perspective, and balance. In the hands of a master artist, they give a framework for the masterpiece. They are never the focal point. But without them, the focal point never takes center stage. Those that enjoy the art hardly ever notice the black threads. We are too overwhelmed by the rest of the picture. But they are there.
We all get black threads. The question is what to do with them. Do we stuff them away? Denying the shame, guilt, and hurt? Believing that there is no place for them in our lives? Or do we make them the centerpiece? Choosing to be a victim forever more. Focusing on the darkness, believing that there really is no color left in life?
Only a true, gifted master artist can take a mistake, a blotch, a dark thread and weave into the larger picture to make it look like that it belong there all along. Using the mistake as a strength. Taking the bad and make it reflect something good.
But this requires leaving the black threads in the master’s hands. Allowing him to use it when and where he sees fit. It might not be immediately seen what he is doing but we trust his handiwork. We’ve seen him do this before – over and over again. So we trust him, even though it looks unfixable, unredeemable.
35 years later, I’m living in the middle of a rich, deep, wonderful tapestry. All of the in-laws, out-laws, and step-laws love each other. They exchange gifts between themselves. They’ve spent holidays all with each other over the years, stayed in each other’s houses. Impossible? 35 years ago – yes.
But God does his best work in the 9th hour with the darkest threads…when He’s given the chance. His own birth is proof of that.
Merry Christmas. And know that He still uses the dark threads.