How Your Life Is Like a Tapestry

A few years ago, I had breakfast with an old college roommate. We hadn’t seen each other in twenty-two years. To my surprise—and delight—he looked almost exactly as he did the last time I saw him. The only difference was that his blond hair was mostly gray.

A Beautiful Tapestry - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/InCommunicado, Image #4413064

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/InCommunicado

We spent an hour or so eating and reminiscing. We talked. We laughed. And we listened.

I shared with him pictures of my family, both of us laughing at the fact that I was now a grandfather. I was amazed at how much we still had in common, even though both our lives had taken so many unexpected turns.

I was especially proud that my friend was still married, still in the ministry, and still growing as a person. He was no worse for the wear, but much wiser and, somehow, deeper and more thoughtful. I know that if we lived closer together, we would be good friends once again.

As he dropped me off at the airport and drove away, I teared up. I knew I would probably not see him again any time soon.

After all, he’s a busy pastor. I was, at the time, a busy CEO. We have our own lives, not to mention the fact that we live at opposite ends of the country. But, still, it made me sad and pensive.

But I think something resonated at an even deeper level.

As I was catching him up on the events of my life, I got another high-altitude panoramic look at my own life. I saw the beauty of my journey and how very much I have to be thankful for. I have had a rich and meaningful life. I am so grateful for every experience.

Not that it’s always been easy. Hardly. Frankly, there’s been a lot of pain. Bad decisions. Expensive mistakes. Words and actions that I regret. But, by the grace of God, I have made it this far. I have no complaints. And by the grace of God I will continue on.

It made me also think again how much life is like a tapestry. Corrie ten Boom originally introduced me to this metaphor.

As it unfolds in real time, it’s like viewing the backside of a tapestry. It appears to be nothing more than a jumble of thread—tangled, frayed, occasionally knotted, and seemingly random. Nothing really makes sense. It’s no wonder people lose heart, give up, and abandon their commitments.

But things are not always what they seem.

It’s only when you turn a tapestry over that you see the art: the rich colors, the texture, and the patterns that can make a tapestry a thing of astonishing beauty.

Likewise, occasionally God gives us a glimpse at what He is weaving into the fabric of our lives. That momentary peek at glory gives us the courage to soldier on, knowing that nothing happens by accident.

No thread of experience—good or bad—is wasted. When it appears to be that way, we just have to remind ourselves that we are simply looking at the backside of a tapestry. And the One weaving it together, knows precisely what He is doing.

When was the last time you got a glimpse of God’s side of the tapestry? How did it make you feel? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://bbcjc.com/ Randy Dignan

    Great post!!  Reminds me of the chocolate chip cookie analogy of life…  Life brings single circumstances that are not too favorable!  Flour alone, nasty!  Salt alone, gross!  Butter by itself, not too good!  But, mix them all together, throw in some chocolate chip cookies, apply some HEAT, and voila!  Chocolate Chip Cookies!  I often say to my wife and those that look to me for leadership…  “This is the flour part…  Hang in there!  God’s baking up some cookies!  Glory!!”  When I get to tatse the sweetness of one of His cookies…  That is when I get to see His side of the tapestry!  Thank you so much for the read!  God bless!

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

       I love it when chocolate chip cookies make the perfect illustration. :)

  • Cindie

    Yesterday…I work at a local Crisis Pregnancy Center and we had ministered to a young girl who was a crack addict and pregnant. She was supposed to put her baby up for adoption, but her own adoptive mother stepped in and has taken custody of the baby. This girl has been clean from drugs for 7 weeks and desperately wants her baby back. My heart broke as I listened to her story…a story that we thought was over and that we were done playing a part in…but God, oh he had other plans.

    • http://www.MicheleCushatt.com/ Michele Cushatt

      Beautiful example, Cindie. So much hope in this!

  • http://www.thedailywalk.net Adam

    I love this metaphor. I do not look at God’s side near as often as I should!

  • https://turnerbethany.wordpress.com/ turner_bethany

    I had a very similar experience in getting to see God’s tapestry. I got married this last summer, and my husband and I moved 600 miles away from home. So when we come to visit we have lots of people to see. One of my coffee dates this last Christmas was my best friend from high school. She and I did keep in touch after graduating from high school. But this particular time hit me because of the depth we were talking about life. The way we conversed about our churches was awesome. It struck me how much we had grown up and matured since our senior year.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    As an author, I know it’s the painful moments in life that deepen the writing experience and add credibility to any story I write. I appreciate the difficulties and rejoice all the more in the blessings.

  • Dawnette Muir

    I don’t know if you are referring to the following poem but I have always loved it. Thanks for refreshing the memory of it for me.  Dawnette

    The Weaver

    My life is but a weaving
    Between my God and Me.
    I may draw the colors,
    He worketh skillfully.
    Full oft’ He chooses sorrow
    And I, in foolish pride,
    Forget He sees the upper
    And I, the under side.                                           
                                        – Author Unknown

    • http://jeremystatton.com/ Jeremy Statton

      Thanks for sharing the poem, Dawnette.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I was not familiar with his poem, but it is beautiful. Thanks.

  • Kate

    “My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue. An everlasting vision of the ever-changing view. A wondrous woven magic, in bits of blue and gold. A tapestry to  feel and see, impossible to hold.” Carole King. I used that quote in my high graduation speech and still remember it. And to think I applied that to my first 18 years of life. Now that I’m… a few years past 18, I really appreciate it.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love that song. I had totally forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder.

  • http://twitter.com/martyn_j Martyn J Wood

    For me the last time I saw God’s side  of the tapestry was when my friend sent a picture of his newborn grandchild. She was so tiny and yet still such a living, breathing, miracle my response was awe and wonder at Father’s artistry once more on display a masterpiece on it’s own.  

  • http://www.christopherneiger.com/ Chris Neiger

    Just what I needed to read today. Thanks.

  • http://www.thisjourneyourlife.com/ Rachel

    Thank you for sharing this! You put into words so many of the thoughts that have been running through my mind lately. Although I love to write, I am struggling with even being able to adequately express all that the Lord is so lovingly and patiently teaching me right now on my life journey.

    Recently, I did see a glimpse of God’s side of the tapestry that He is weaving together in my life.  Just over this past weekend, I attended a conference for parents/caretakers, educators, and ministry leaders who have a vested interest in children with special needs. (I am the mother of a beautiful 7 year old girl who happens to be visually impaired and struggles with some additional developmental delays.)

    I met one mother whose son’s story and and needs were so similar to what my daughter’s are–even down to a specific situation we are both currently facing concerning our children’s educational needs–that only God could have ordained our encounter!  Because there were hundreds of other parents in attendance whose children’s special needs spanned a wide range, so it is beyond incredible that our paths crossed and the Lord saw fit to include her among the handful of other parents I met in the two short days of the conference!

    It made me feel overwhelmingly joyful and at peace. I find comfort in knowing that God sees me, loves me and knows my needs. He is leading and directing in my life in specific ways and His grace enables me  to make the best decisions regarding my daughters needs and care of them.

    Thank you again for this wonderful post, so beautifully written.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Great story, Rachel! 

  • http://www.CharlesSpecht.com/ Charles Specht

    Beautiful article, Michael.

  • http://lauriewallin.com/ Laurie Wallin

    I didn’t realized Corri TenBoom was the one who came up with that metaphor. Makes perfect sense – she had quite the jumble of threads through all God brought her through! I get God-side views when my special needs kids are with other families on an outing and the parents comment to me how well they handled it – that all the work we put into life skills is making a difference.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Laurie, I also have a special needs child.  In moments like that I thank God that I had the opportunity to share in an extraordinary child’s super-achievement.  If my child didn’t have special needs, the ordinary  achievement just wouldn’t be as meaningful.  

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  • http://www.robsorbo.com/p/welcome-from-disqus.html Rob Sorbo

    I’m glad you mentioned Corrie Ten Boom! This is my favorite stanza of her poem about the tapestry:

    The dark threads are as needful
    In the Weaver’s skillful hand,
    As the threads of gold and silver
    In the pattern He has planned. 

    It really helps me with perspective during the hard times.

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      “The dark threads are as needful…”   Great perspective!

  • http://unknownjim.com/ Jim Woods

    Every now and then I see a glimpse of God’s tapestry and I. AM. OVERWHELMED. And that is just a glimpse. I think if I were to see it I wouldn’t even begin to believe it honestly. 

  • http://twitter.com/zephaniah_c Zephaniah Chukwudum

    Love this.
    All our negative moments will be used to make our testimonies greater!
    God bless you more!

  • http://twitter.com/drew_myers Drew Myers

    Great post: My favorite part: Likewise, occasionally God gives us a glimpse at what He is weaving into the fabric of our lives. That momentary peek at glory gives us the courage to soldier on, knowing that nothing happens by accident.

  • soulstops

    Encouraging post! The tapestry analogy by Corrie Ten Boom means a lot because she survived being in a Nazi concentration camp. Journeying through the Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius this year with a small group helped me to see a little more of the tapestry that God is weaving in my life. Grateful.

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  • Nigell

    Thank you so much for this. I’ve been highly discouraged as of lately and I really needed to read this. 

  • http://juliesunne.com/ Julie Sunne

    Love this post, Michael! When I look back at my life journey, I can see God’s side, His weaving together of odds and ends to make a beautiful picture. The here and now is the knotted side (backside) of the tapestry. I think we get a tiny peek at the Weaver’s hands at work when we choose to thank and praise Him in each day’s events.

  • Dian

    A friend shared this on FB this morning.  I needed to read it.  I was reminded of how a greade school friend & I reconnected about three years ago, after no contact for 40 years.  We were best friends in grade school &  high school — somehow brought together by the commonality of an unhappy home life & parents who ultimately divorced.

    At age 17 we both became pregnant, but due to changes in our locations, neither knew the other one was with child.  I was unable to have the baby & the only choice seemed abortion, which was illegal in my home state.  I contacted her & she flew with me to New York.  I didn’t know that she was also pregnant, out-of-wedlock.  I found out afterwards.

    Life continued for both of us, and we lost contact again.  During those 40 years I married, had two children, divorced, struggled with alcohol addiction, re-married, had a second bout with addiction, and retired from a government job after 30 years.  During that time she moved 38 times, married, had another child, divorced, worked as head of a radiology department, pastored & started several churches, did missionary work in So. America, and almost died.

    Her parents were alcoholic and I became one.

    Last year she asked me if I would accompany her on a journey to move from one end of the country to the other.  I lived mid-point, and it would be a 4 day drive from my home.  One of my daughters lived within two hours of her destination.  I could not see how that could happen.  I mean, sure, we were friends 40 years ago, but occasional phone conversations are different than a 4-day trip by automobile.  But I had been retired for a year & my husband said ‘go for it’. 

    And what a trip it was.  The years fell away, and the four days passed quickly.  I feel that I received much for from her than I gave to her.  But on the other hand, both of our lives had been, and continue to resemble the tapestry of which you speak.  I know God is at work in both of our lives, similarly, yet so different.  I am grateful for each & every thread — both the golden, strong & brightly colored ones, and the worn & frayed bits.

    Today, she is instrumental in a non-profit organization that provides assistance and  free housing, for a limited amount of time, for individuals in recovery from drug & alcohol addiction, whose family unit includes one or more children.

    I am still retired, but I participate in a twelve step program and assist women in their journey of recovery, one day at a time.

    I have always loved Carole King’s song “Tapestry”.  Thank you for sharing your writing on this.  Today, and for many days, I continue to be grateful & amazed at how God can work in my life if I continue to seek him on a daily basis.

  • Jamie Chavez

    Mike, this is a fantastic post! I also have friends made in my youth that I still feel kinship with and with whom I have kept in touch. But (thanks to social media) I have learned some of the threads in my tapestry—threads I wasn’t paying much attention to, let’s say—continue on in the lives of others I had not kept touch with. I’ve been told stories of things I said or did that I’d long since forgotten, and this has blessed me as well. Our threads intersect with those of everyone we come in contact with; it’s only now I appreciate the enormity of that.

  • http://www.theworld4realz.com/ Andi-Roo

    What a lovely analogy! I’ve always believed that things works themselves out for the best, & I do try & retain a “seek the silver lining” mentality, but these are methods of viewing tragedy or chaos AFTER the fact. Your tapestry example is a wonderful perspective in actively maintaining calm IN THE MOMENT, something at which I’m not always skilled. This will be a great reminder to repeat to myself during a trial, when I feel most lost at sea. Thank you!

    Andi-Roo
    /// @theworld4realz

    http://www.theworld4realz.com/

    theworldforrealz@gmail.com

  • Pauline Logan

    Thanks, Michael, for reminding us all that God is the Master Weaver and He knows what He is doing.
     
    Yesterday I visited my local food bank. The woman I sat next to struck up a conversation with me as we waited our turns. At first we talked about the facial features of a little boy seated near us, and whether he resembled his mother or his father more. Somehow the conversation turned to spiritual matters. She freely expressed her doubts that the Bible is true. She doesn’t believe in the Trinity, or that God is a person–and not a nameless force in nature.  I shared with her that God became “personal” for me when I accepted that He sent His Son in human form to save me from my sins.

    I left the food bank grateful for a chance–however small it was–to share my faith and love for the Lord. I’m grateful that God uses unexpected encounters to manifest Himself–even through us. That conversation will likely be one of the brighter threads in my life’s tapestry!  

  • JAM

    I Recive in my boss side massage and he request our all team for
    pray his wife during in hospital

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  • Darrell Wolfe

    There is a man who I’ve taken on to work with, disciple if you will. As he talks and tells me about his life, fears, worries, etc… he reminds me SO much of myself years ago, before I got serious about my walk with Jesus. As I try to unravel the messes he has himself in I find that nearly all of them are a direct result of wrong thinking, leading to wrong action, leading to re-enforced wrong thinking… leading to a downward spiral to nonsense. 

    But what is really surprising is that I then find, as I go home to share my worries and concerns with my wife, I am dealing with the same “stinking thinking” that is causing his issues. I’ve had my mind renewed by the Word of God to a higher degree than he has. So my problems don’t look as bad from the outside. But I still find this “old man” in there. 

    I am simultaneously grateful for how far I’ve come, and reminded of what I did to get here and that I need to keep doing it (in some cases go back to doing it) in order to keep moving forward in the plan of God for my life. 

    These glimpses are amazing. It’s too bad that I can’t download all my years of experience into this other person and give him instantly what it took me years to get, but with the Grace of God He’ll learn it faster because I can give him the tools he needs and give him all the resources it took me years to find. 

    Thank you for this article, it’s helped me process these recent events!

    Darrell G. Wolfe http://n2gs.blogspot.com/

  • Heman Smith

    Michael, what a richly expressed reminder of the wonder of the Lord’s weaving.  He knows, and guides our path.  I agree that it is a gift to see on occasion, the bigger, eternal picture.  I very much am grateful for it, and humbled by it.  I find it encouraging, and enlivening to see what He knows I can become and do, not just what I so often focus on too intently - the intensity of the day.

    Thanks again for the breath of fresh perspective.

  • Phil

    This reminds me of a verse that surprised me a couple of weeks ago as I was reading in my morning devotions:  
    He existed before anything else, and he holds all
    creation together. Colossians 1:17. Even when my life seems to be falling apart, Jesus is still holding the world together. Eyes on him and it’s going to work out.

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  • Njugunajoel

    Its so true..

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  • TroyD

    Thank you Michael for this post, I can’t tell you how many times I have come back to read it over and over.  My family has been having a tough year, but it is writings like these that keep us strong and full of hope.  Blessings to you for the work you do.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Troy. I do too. I mostly write about things I want to remind myself about.

  • mcgoughypamela@yahoo.com

    At first it feel as though God has forgotten about me until he shows me a glimpse of what he’s up to. At that moment, I become become speechless or thinking Ahh!
    This is what you want me to know! The moment becomes so golden that somehow it seem to intertwine, Which gives me a feeling of Grace & Hope!
    Pam M

  • Writerohit

    Michael, you rock! :) 

  • jeff youngblood

    I am living that kind of moment now.

  • Lindsay

    My frame was not hidden from You when I was being formed in secret [and] intricately and curiously wrought [as if embroidered with various colors] in the depths of the earth [a region of darkness and mystery]. (Psalm 139:15 AMP)

  • AMOR

    God almighty knew us before the foundation of time and the course is no surprise to Him…Thankful for all those He has placed in my life and are all a part of my tapersty. I am becoming who I already am in Him.