Giving Thanks in an Imperfect World

It is said the Amish purposefully include an “imperfection” in their exquisite quilts. The quilter may insert a “Humility block,” a square of colors which don’t match the rest of the quilt, or inconspicuously place one mismatched scrap of fabric in the design. The proposed reasoning is that trying to create a perfect piece “mocks God.”

Quilt by my mom, Bonnie Patterson

My husband and I recently built a new house—yep, condolences are appropriate! We purchased three acres of land, poured over house plans on the internet for months, hired a builder, and drove twenty-five minutes to visit the site every day for eleven months before moving in on October eighth. And even with our constant attention and the very best intentions and enormous skills of our contractor and his crews, our new home is not perfect. Lovely, but not perfect. And we’re okay with that.

I believe, I can finally say I am conquering my strong perfectionist tendencies. Okay, I admit to occasional lapses, but I’m learning to live with imperfection. Even more, I am learning to thank God for my own imperfections and those of others.

Can we agree that 2020 is the most unusual and extremely imperfect year of our lifetime? Will life ever go back to what we knew as normal? At this point, Covid has likely affected each of us in various personal ways. Either we had the virus or had a loved one with the disease. You probably know someone who was hospitalized for weeks or even months and may have a friend or relative who died with Covid or preexisting conditions exacerbated by the virus.

In this season of Thanksgiving, we may wonder how we can fulfill the command, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV.

Two thoughts may help: 1) Embrace that we live in a fallen and imperfect world.

Research indicates the explanation for imperfections in quilts is likely folklore, specifically because all handmade objects intrinsically have their own imperfections—no need to create them on purpose. But aren’t carefully handmade items more valued despite any flaws they contain? A friend recently gave me a gorgeous, hand-stitched quilt with all my favorite colors. I’ve not searched for a mismatched scrap, but even if the stitches show any imperfections, I will still cherish this gift forever.

Folklore or not, we all recognize that there is no perfection on earth.

2) Remember that God is still in control. He alone redeems the imperfect for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28. NIV

Recognizing God’s handiwork in imperfect situations compels us to give thanks.

A prayer by Charles Spurgeon: Let the morrow be what it may, our God is the God of tomorrow. Whatever events may have happened, which to us are unknown, our Jehovah is God of the unknown as well as of the known. We are determined to trust the Lord, come what may. If the very worst should happen, our God is still the greatest and best.

Even in the midst of a pandemic when our Thanksgiving celebrations are fewer in number than we’d like, even in a world where cranberries and Sister Schubert cinnamon rolls are sold out a week early (along with toilet paper and paper towels), even though our Thanksgiving prayers are muffled behind a mask, let us give thanks with grateful hearts. Amen.

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