I was given a cross-stitch set by my auntie for my fourteenth birthday, and started it not long after. Over the past twelve years, Elliot (the elephant) and Buttons (the mouse) have made the painstakingly slow journey towards their current framed glory. The progress has gone in fits and starts of course; I'm slow but not that slow! There have been periods where I've worked on it quite frequently, and years at a time when it has sat in a drawer gathering dust. It's a surprisingly complex pattern; I had no idea how many different shades of light grey and off-white existed before I started!
The process of cross-stitching is an inherently fascinating discussion, I am sure you all agree. But for the unconverted among you*, lets bring in some parallels to life. I have recently been listening to people talk about old dreams, things that were vision a long time ago but seem to have gone by the wayside. It reminded me of this.
Sometimes dreams (/visions/goals/whatever your terminology) can be really exciting at first; we see the picture of what is going to happen into the future and can't wait to make it a reality. We set off, stitching row by row, anticipating the end result any time.
But it's a longer process than we expected. There are more obstacles than we ever knew existed. It's funny working to a pattern. You have to trust that everything will work together, because part way through it just looks like random blocks of colour, and doesn't seem to make sense at all!The initial vision and current state of affairs just don't seem to match up. And life gets in the way; surviving takes over for weeks, months, years at a time. Occasionally we look back and think about it, or have a really refreshing experience and move forwards a couple of steps, but ultimately, progress is slow.
I have a real problem with finishing things. Getting to the conclusion of anything is a real challenge for me psychologically. Once all the cross-stitching is done, the picture needs stitching around to draw in the outline and the detail. The outline is so fiddly but adds real detail and definition to the picture. This sat in my drawer just awaiting the outline for eighteen months.You might be on the edge of realising your dream; all of the pieces are in place and you can more or less see the end product; let me tell you it's worth going all the way to the real thing!
I've learned a lot in the twelve years since I first unwrapped that present. I have learned that hearts do break, but they mend again. I've learned to be a speech therapist. I've gone from being a child to an adult, I've nearly gotten married! I'm not sure how much any of those things have contributed to my sewing abilities (every parable has it's limits), but they have certainly contributed to my dreams. Dreams that have begun their process but are nowhere near ready yet.
Joseph had a dream. He was going to rule over all of his brothers and parents. The journey from favourite son to ruler took him through slave, manager, prisoner and advisor before he finally saw the dream come to fruition. Each phase was vitally important in producing the man capable of coping with the reality of the position he had seen so long ago.
So what's my point? Partly just to show off a long-term achievement. But partly to encourage you. Don't give up. Don't regret perceived 'wasted' years. Just keep following the pattern and trust in God for the rest.
*This is a joke, I'm aware irony doesn't always come across well in print.