This year I have begun learning to knit. My girls have learned right alongside me as we have explored and practiced with the help of a simple “learn to knit” beginner’s book.
Meanwhile, I have also taught my girls the basics of crochet. I cannot remember when my mom first taught me to crochet. I just remember knowing. At one point she showed me how to make granny squares and I began work on an afghan. I never finished it. In fact, I do not recall ever completing a major crochet project. I have made a few little things, made up on my own, but I have never really followed a pattern to complete a project.
Even so, as I began to teach my girls this year, I felt that I knew how to crochet but was just learning how to knit.
When we sorted through spring clothes this year, we discovered that my oldest had outgrown a brown shrug she loved to wear with some of her sundresses. It was a crochet shrug, so we decided that it would probably be easier to find a pattern and make a new one than it would be to hunt down a suitable, and affordable, replacement. Sure enough, I found a nice, free pattern. We bought the yarn and I went to work.
As I worked, I discovered how very little I knew about crocheting! I had never followed a pattern before, and I had no clue what some of the directions or abbreviations meant. I continually had to look up tutorials and videos to help me along.
Once I finished the crochet shrug, I found a pattern for a knit bolero that I really liked. This time, though, I acknowledge my status as a beginning and anticipated needing additional help. I knew I had only learned the basics of knitting, and I was prepared to look up tutorials along the way. From the very beginning, the second project was easier, and I learned so very much!
How many things have we “known” since childhood? We proceed through our lives convinced that we know them well, never truly challenging that knowledge. Then necessity demands that we fall back upon our knowledge, and we suddenly discover a great wealth of ignorance.
How many spiritual truths fall into this category? We know that God provides peace, strength, comfort, direction, and wisdom, but do we really know that? We know we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil, but do we truly know how that feels? Knowing and knowing are two different things.
True knowing can only really be learned by doing. I knew how to crochet. I knew the principle behind it. I knew how to make the stitches. But I had never challenged myself to really do much with crochet. Only when I sat down and actually began to implement those crochet basics did I discover how to truly see a crochet project to completion. My knitting project went much more smoothly from the very beginning because I immediately recognized that I still had much to learn. I knew I was still in the process of learning and that I could only accomplish that learning by diving in and following the pattern step by step. In both projects I made mistakes, and the completed products are far from perfect. But the knitting project saw much less frustration and discouragement along the way because I understood that only by working through the steps would I truly learn the lesson before me.
I want to walk through my spiritual journey the same way I approached the knitting project. I want to recognize that knowledge is incomplete until tested. I do not want to rely on head knowledge that has accompanied me since childhood. I want to be ready to learn as I walk, recognizing that there remains much to know, even about the most familiar topics. The recognition will not ease the difficulty of many of the lessons, but it will greatly affect my attitude because I will recognize that I do not know it all and I will hunger to learn more. That is the attitude I long to have.