Sewing is Not a Soliloquy

I wish that I could write an amazing article telling you how precisely the craft of sewing matches my walk with the Lord. That every time I sew I think of honoring Jesus. That the fabric I choose reminds me that I am Christ’s workmanship. That my sewing needle resembles the Word of God–sharper than a double-edged sword and able to judge the thoughts and hearts of men. That when the needle thread pulls up the bobbin thread I am reminded of the importance of community as I quote Hebrews 3:13, “Encourage one another daily lest you fall victim to the deceitfulness of sin.”

But, the truth is that I sew because I enjoy it. It makes me happy to take a piece of beautiful fabric and turn it into something useful and, most likely, wearable. It brings me joy to see my children wearing something that I made with my own hands from fabric that I selected just for them. I love walking into my bathroom and staring at the fabric I chose for the shower curtain.  Nothing spiritual, just happiness.

In fact, a few years ago when Austin City Life was in its infancy, I was having a bit of a rough time. Okay, a horrible time. The Lord was doing a work in my heart and I was not too happy about it. I was being hurt by others, and I was hurting others just as much. Everywhere I turned for about two years there was heartache, frustration, or confusion. Everywhere…except my sewing machine.

When Hobby Becomes Idolatry I know this sounds a little creepy to those of you without a hobby, but I turned to sewing like others might turn to alcohol. At the end of a long day, I could turn on my machine and predict with some degree of certainty what was going to happen. I could pick up something I loved, the fabric, and turn it into something I loved even more. Nothing painful. Just happiness.

And herein lies the danger for my craft and me: this sort of happiness is mine, all mine. I turn to it when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m bored, and when I’m stressed. When I’m sad, I make a dress. When I’m happy, I post on my sewing blog. When I am bored, I browse sewing patterns. When I need a compliment, I blog yet again. In Austin it’s called a craft. St. Augustine called it a disordered love. In the Bible it’s called an idol.

As you’ve probably already noticed there’s no mention of Jesus, His Word, or His church. There is no mention of clinging to the Bible for my life in heartache, nor is there mention of the joy of the Lord as my strength. I cling to myself and my machine. I find solace and community in a plastic concoction with a sharp needle.

But if I read 2 Corinthians 6:16, I have to get a little concerned.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their god, and they will be my people.

This verse highlights both my problems.  One – that God will not coexist with idols.  Two – He will walk among his people in community, not in isolation.

Of course, sewing and happiness are good things, right!?! Just like pretty little cows are good things. But when those pretty little cows become Golden Calves, someone needs to sound the alarm. Furthermore, when something “good” pulls us away from or even simply distracts us from the Lord and His people…please let those alarm bells ring. We can only help ourselves for a moment at a time, but the goodness of the Lord never ceases.

Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind,  for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.  Psalm 107:9

As much as I hate to admit it and strive very hard to prove otherwise, my craft only satisfies for a moment. I snap a picture. I grab a smile. I immediately need to make something else. The dissolution of the joy is that quick.

Woven Together With Jesus How wonderful that the Creator of the Universe is happy and ready to satisfy, not only my heart, but my very soul. He alone knows me. He alone can fill me. How wonderful that this gracious God has given me a community of people to love and to be loved by, to forgive and to be forgiven by. If I hide behind my machine, if I try to take all the credit, if I choose fabric over the Creator…I am the one who loses. No happiness. Just restlessness.

I don’t want that. I want to be satisfied. I want those good things. I want Jesus, and I want His church. I want to be woven together so tightly that no seam ripper on the planet can tear me away!

With the help of the Lord, growing me from one degree of glory to the next, those good things are coming to me. Not in the form of a garment or a slip cover, but as Jehovah Nissi – the Lord my banner. They are also coming to me in the form of a community who really does encourage me daily so that I do not fall victim to the deceitfulness of sin. Thank you, friends. I need you and the Lord way more than I need my mannequin!

Robie Dodson is married to Jonathan and mother to three delightful kids. She loves using her sewing talent to clothe her children, make dresses, and teach others how to sew. You can find her dresses online at Parsimony. She is also the founder of Austin Craft Crowd, a creative non-profit that seeks to bless the city through crafting and community.