For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. Psalm 139: 13 – 16
I have an old quilt given to me by my mother that is one of my most prized possessions. I remember as a little girl, pulling it out of the big trunk in her bedroom, and asking her to tell me its story over and over again. From the earliest age, I understood its beauty and its value, and I must have asked her a hundred times if I could have it someday, and she honored my request.
If you saw it, your initial thoughts would probably be something along the order of –“Ooh, that’s really ugly!” Even though each square is unique with a different flower design, the colors are dull, dark, and dreary – not the bright colors and creative designs you usually associate with the beautiful quilts of today. The fabric is coarse and rough so unlike the soft, cottony quilts we are familiar with. The threads are frayed and coming apart in places, there are holes and stains, and because it is so thin with no padding, it would not be at all warm or cozy to curl up with. It seems basically useless and you may be thinking, why in the world would I want to keep it?
But if you looked at it with new eyes, a different perspective, you too might recognize its beauty. This quilt was made by my great grandmother over 120 years ago. She married my great grandfather when she was barely a young woman and bore him 7 healthy children, including the youngest, my grandfather, before she died during childbirth at the age of 39. (The baby died, as well.)
My grandfather was only 18 months old at the time and his father didn’t think he could care for him alone, tend to the large farm he owned, and take care of the other 6 children, so he gave him to his sister and her husband, who didn’t have children of their own, to raise. This quilt was given to my grandfather to take to his new home to keep him warm. It was the only thing of his mother’s he would ever know.
My great grandmother had made one for each of her children before their births, and with all the demands of a farmer’s wife in the mid to late 1800’s, I cannot imagine when she found the time to do so. Gardening, weaving, sewing her children’s clothes, making soap and butter, feeding the livestock, carrying water, washing the clothes, cooking meals over the fireplace, reading her Bible to her children, tending the farm – the chores go on and on. Yet she found time to lovingly sew each stitch, to prepare a quilt for each child to ensure that they would be kept warm and secure, and to pass on a little of herself to each one.
My grandfather gave it to my mother shortly before he died, and my mother passed it on to me, as well. It is the greatest treasure, such a gift. I have thought of having it restored, repaired, but I just can’t. I love all the flaws in the material, the broken threads, and the unique design, because it is the quilt I have loved since I was a child, and it is a part of my family’s story.
When I look at this special heirloom, I can’t help but imagine the love with which she made it, the devotion she must have put into every stitch, every thread as she worked into the night, straining by the firelight to do just a little more before going to bed and rising before sunrise to care for her family. The time and care she must have placed in its design, as she planned each square, and how she must have envisioned the final product. The pride she must have had in its completion and how she must have dreamed of how it would serve its purpose in the future for the children she would bear. What a masterpiece of design! What a gift of love!
Then I think of the masterpiece of design that God made of each of us. I am so humbled as I think of Him forming us in His mind before we were created. How he must have planned every last detail and I can only imagine the love and care he must have put into our design. He must have carefully thought out each feature, each fiber of our being, and the love with which he formed us, molded us into the image of Him, is incomprehensible, indescribable, unimaginable. The pride He must have had as He breathed life into us and thought of the future he had planned for us, the excitement, anticipation, and joy He must have felt as he brought us into the world and watched us grow and change.
Then what sadness He must have felt as he watched “the world” bruise us, disappoint us, even harm us, and change who we were meant to be. The grief He must have felt as He saw us begin to dislike and dishonor this masterpiece of design, this beautiful creation he had made of each of us. Oh, but the most grievous of all must be the heartache of our dishonoring Our Creator and Maker Himself, by the self-condemnation we bring on ourselves and the lack of appreciation and gratitude we give him for the gift of our lives.
I can’t make this quilt into a new one, and I have no desire to do so. I want to continue to behold its beauty, honor its past, and pass its story onto my children and grandchildren. But I can appreciate the beauty and love with which its creator and designer, my great-grandmother, made it. I can look at it with new eyes, with a new perspective, and appreciate its value.
Neither can we make these bodies over, but we can look at ourselves through God’s eyes. We can honor this creation, this masterpiece He has made. Our life experiences have given us our flaws and our holes and our frayed edges, but they are a part of us – who we are as individuals – and each one of them has shaped our character and is making us into who God intended us to be. We are his treasure and his beautiful design.
We are so worthy of love. The world may not see beauty as God sees it, but we can be assured that He sees each one of us as “fearfully and wonderfully made”, His beautiful masterpiece of design.
Our most gracious and loving Father, thank you for the gift of life and all the blessings it brings. Help us to always see ourselves as your most beautiful creation. Clothe us with love, dignity, self-worth, and acceptance of who we are and who you made us to be. We give you all honor, glory and praise. Amen
*Several of you mentioned that you would love to see my great grandmother’s quilt that I wrote about. Here is a picture of the front and back.