The sign on my tailor’s shop reads, “A Stitch in Time.”
A stitch in time saves nine. Musing over this quote never brings to mind stitches on wearable items. Clothing is replaceable; some people even ban their clothes to the donation bin after a season anyway.
Thinking about preventative maintenance leads me to more wallet-emptying things, like a car or a furnace, but those, too, are replaceable. Pondering further, my mind alights to irreplaceables, like…
Some say even relationships are fungible because, hey, you can always get a new friend. But parents, siblings, and other family members are one-of-a-kind; so, my mind settles on them.
Rifts between kin are a reality. Perhaps a pre-emptive salvaging opportunity was lost; the time to save nine has already come and gone. Who knows and who cares where that stitch-less piece of the family tree is flapping around?
Sometimes, when we’re not too busy being indignant about the family member who wronged us, a feeling creeps up like poison ivy from the heart. We do our best to blunt some thorny Sunday readings, convincing ourselves these themes do not apply to us. A few particularly prickly verses:
In Matthew 5:9 Christ pronounces, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.”
I don’t know about always being a peacemaker, but I certainly want to be called a son or daughter of God.
Humble, Gentle, Patient
St. Paul says, in Ephesians 4:2 “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love….”
Bearing with one another through love makes me think about gritting my teeth. Sometimes that’s what we have to do, or breathe deeply, or give ourselves a time-out, not just to hear about love (which requires no bearing or gritting), but actually to show love (where gritting comes in handy).
Love, love for real; sometimes the L word feels like a four-letter one, and it can be a bear. I'd rather be mauled by a bear than deal with this family member. Or maybe being with this person is like being mauled by a bear.
James 1:19: “everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath….”
We have to ask ourselves whether that last thread of our stitch wouldn’t have ripped if peacemaking, humility, gentleness, patience, and love had ruled our familial relationships.
In Ephesians 4:32, St. Paul implores “be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.”
St. Paul says to offer compassion and forgiveness (whether perpetrator or victim), regardless of the reason for the untimely end to a relationship. At the very least, we are to offer forgiveness.
These scripture themes give me pause, but more importantly, an epiphany: some people in our lives – especially those in our families (who annoy the heck out of us and can maul us into misery) are there to make us PRACTICE SCRIPTURE!
We have to show love, and BEAR through it, not just hear about it. And PRACTICE love OVER and OVER. And if we are waiting for the practicing to be over, we might be waiting for the rest of our lives.
A ripped garment stays unmended until a stitch repairs it. Maybe it’s time to place a mend in unity, a needle in humility, and a reinforcement in forgiveness. It will take time to sew enough stitches, but it starts with one, and just one may lead to the next.