I have, suddenly, learned to crochet.
I actually started learning to crochet five years ago, when I figured out how to crochet a foundation stitch: the first row of crochet that starts a project. Pleased, I went on to read other tutorials.
And couldn’t understand them.
I mean this literally. I could comprehend the words and the images in the tutorials and videos I watched, but I could not make meaning out of them. They might as well have been in Chinese. Words cannot fully express my bewildered helplessness as I watched someone on Youtube slowly demonstrate a single crochet stitch, then failed as I tried to mimic the process.
I gave up. Knitting made more sense.
And then, the other day, five years later, I stumbled across the crochet hook in my desk drawer. Because I had a ball of yarn out already, I crocheted a foundation chain for fun. Then, feeling whimsical, I fired up a tutorial to see if the single crochet stitch was any less daunting now than it was then.
I finished an entire washcloth yesterday.
I don’t know what happened! Suddenly, the tutorials made sense. Magically, I grasped for the first time where the crochet hook was supposed to go in a previous row of stitches. I can crochet! Something in the crafty part of my head that was dead or dormant five years ago has suddenly, and for no particular reason, stirred to life. I have gone from being a person who cannot grasp crochet to A Person Who Crochets. Imagine!
I don’t know that wisdom works in precisely the same way, but I do know that God reveals different truths and understandings to us over time. I know that at times we don’t have the capacity to understand Him or His ways; then, at the right time, suddenly we do. Spiritual growth occurs at God’s discretion, not our desire, and sometimes the profoundest learning occurs when He wills it rather than when we want it.
I put a lot of stock in book learning. I can’t help it; that’s the scholar in me. But I have grown sensitive lately to the streak of elitist intellectualism that exists in counterpoint to the equally troublesome anti-intellectual streak in the church. One stance eschews book learning as useless; the other eschews any wisdom but book learning useless, and condescends to those who cannot or will not engage in it.
Yet the wisdom of God is something else entirely apart from all of these things. I believe it can be revealed to us in and through book learning, and also in and through other things. We make ourselves available to it when we pray, and read His word. But we also have to recognize that God Himself is the giver of wisdom, and gives what He deems necessary to His children in His own time.
That’s why I’ve learned not to struggle too much over what I don’t understand or what spiritually feels beyond me. God will get me there in His own good time. As with crochet, it is possible that what seemed bewildering to me years ago will one day be plain as day. I now see darkly; one day I will know fully, even as I am fully known.
The other day a work acquaintance of mine who is not a Christian, but with whom I frequently discuss spiritual matters, shook her head. “I can’t handle, like, the mystery,” she told me. “The Christian stuff where it’s like–wait and find out when God wants you to find out–no! I want to know now, and I want to know everything. Like, I deserve the answers!”
But part of faith is recognizing that we don’t deserve them, nor do we need them, because we can trust God to know and act on whatever needs to be known. More than that, we can trust that as we grow, He will broaden and deepen our understanding, giving us the gift of wisdom to understand and see matters in an entirely different way than before.
In the meantime, we wait. And crochet reminds me now that as we go through the process, the end result will both surprise and delight us.