The Tangled Threads of My Tapestry

I’ve often heard the analogy that our lives are like a tapestry, and lately, it’s become undeniably real and applicable to me. Many threads, one masterpiece. On one side, the finished product in its glory. On the other, the true story, the tangled threads and knotted ends and chaos of it all.

A few weeks ago, I started a brand new job. It was one I hadn’t been looking for, but it fell in my lap and seemed too good to be true. The whole process went smoothly, and before I knew it, I had a new cubicle in a downtown office and a fancy new job title. Now that I’m here and I’m doing this new work, the beauty of it all is coming into focus.

The threads have been many, and they haven’t all made sense along the way. Life for the past two years has felt a lot like a jumbled mess, or a lot like the back of the tapestry. Things felt tangled and it didn’t all seem to match and I didn’t know if I should be going left or right or up or down or just switch paths all together.

There are the threads of purple and gold: the JMU years. The four year college experience cut short to three years due to extra AP credits and a summer spent studying abroad that satisfied all the requirements in just three years. The degree in Media Arts and Design, the concentration in journalism, the minors in educational media and British communications and media. The internships in the JMU Communications and Marketing Department, the stories written for The Breeze newspaper, the year spent learning how to lead a small group and teach the Bible, the community building among friends and roommates that taught me how to love and be loved and trust again.

There’s the thread that feels gray: the massive knee surgery and hospital stay and the summer spent on the couch at home, being taken care of, bouncing between surgeons and physical therapists and appointments and pharmacies. The learning how to be taken care of, the having time to hope and dream and write and read (and also watch a lot of Netflix).

There’s the thread of primary colors: the few months spent back at an early childhood literacy nonprofit I had worked with in the summers. The learning how to to create and manage social media accounts for a brand and not just for myself. The learning how to work with teachers and with students who came from less than I did, for learning patience and kindness.

There’s the thread of lime green and royal purple: the (horrible) brand colors of my first real job, the first one with a business card and my name engraved on a plaque on the door and an announcement in the Richmond Times-Dispatch that I had made it, I was there. The learning new softwares and how to stretch myself to write stories about programs and people and problems I knew nothing about. The feelings of inadequacy of always being the youngest person in the room. The pride when I held printed publications in my hand, knowing every word was mine, every design had come from my hand through my hard work. The wrestling with fear of the unknown and the growth through challenging circumstances that led to mustering up enough courage to say thank you and walk away.

There’s the thread of deep blue: that’s what my summer at Hope felt like. The deep conversations with a team of passionate, purpose-driven, talented, artistic, God-seeking people. The strategizing and analyzing and creating plans for social media and communications for a church and community I adore. Building relationships that have opened doors time and time again. Learning how to use my skills and my passions and my interests in unity for the Kingdom, even when it doesn’t come with an official job title or much stability.

There’s the thread of yellow: the thread of the kids I spent hours nannying, loving, chasing, cuddling, feeding, playing with, listening to, laughing with, kneeling down to, cleaning up after. Learning endless lessons from humans tinier and braver and more curious than I. Learning to see with eyes open, to embrace the mess, to chase whimsy, to laugh freely, to let go easily.

There’s the thread of black: the color of my ink pens and my Moleskines. Learning to write in fifteen minutes on Fridays, to challenge myself to create even on the days when it felt like words wouldn’t come. Learning that words have power. Finding my voice, little by little, day by day, post by post. Words on screens and words in letters and words on paper. All teaching me, all challenging me, all beckoning me into freedom, all molding me with truth and grace.

There’s the thread of red: the love so evident in every season of my life. The advice of my parents, the laughter of my small group, the endless support of my three “big brothers,” my church family, my best friends, my family. Learning that people believed in me, people loved me enough to push me past where I was stuck, people saw more worth and value and good in me than I had let myself see before.

There are smaller threads too, woven in and among all the others. The sunsets chased, the roadtrips taken, the state I grew up in, the memories from childhood, the shared meals, the opportunities that led to others, the Internet friends and so much collaboration, the dozens of books read, the chances taken and the tears cried. Jobs accepted and jobs left. Summers spent recovering and babysitting and adventuring. Nights spent writing, days spent editing, hours spent doodling, even more spent reading.

It hasn’t been a mess after all. These threads have all been bringing me here, telling of His glory through my rambling story. It wouldn’t be complete without each one. The beauty is in the bringing together of every loose end and braided cord.

I felt like I was floundering, but really, I was following the Leader.

When I wrote in fifteen minutes on Fridays, it prepared me to write trending pieces in an hour at my job now. When I learned new softwares at my first real job, it readied me to use them again now. When I learned to keep my eyes open and notice the little things from the little ones I watched, it gave me fodder for the stories I’m writing now. When I learned to be confident in myself even as the youngest person in the office, it gave me the courage to go after this job I wasn’t even qualified for. That bravery paid off, and they adjusted the role to fit my experience.

Every day now, there’s something that beckons back to past experience, and it’s all making sense.

It all mattered. It all was meaningful. It all was beautiful.

It wasn’t all easy. It didn’t all make sense. There was pain just as much as there was joy. There was confusion just as much as celebration. There was questioning just as much as believing.

I look at the beginning of Scripture and I see six days of creating. I see the earth being formed, landscapes taking shape, life being breathed and color being splashed over the canvas of our globe. Then I see the Creator step back and rest. I see Him look at all He’s made, all He’s brought forth, all He put together, and say it is good.

I look at my life, at all He’s brought forth, all He put together, and I say it is good. It is not perfect, but oh, it is good. And even more so, He is good. Selah.

This life, this story, let it all be for His glory.

May I trust Him even when it feels like a tangled mess.

May I praise Him when I see glimpses of the greater picture.

May I look back and reflect. May I see his endless faithfulness. May I rest in his goodness.

May I pause, and may I praise. Selah.

This life is good. I have come so far and have further still ahead. You go before me, You are behind me, You are by my side. You are weaving a stunning tapestry, turning my life into a work of art thread by thread in the masterful way only You, my Creator, can.

Real LifeRachel Dawson