Why choose the name “Behind the Tapestry” for a blog?
I write more fully about my story in separate post, but I want to answer this particular question.
An Atheist Moves In
I was raised as an atheist by my father and the reality of my life seemed to confirm that God didn’t exist. If he did, he had to be cruel to give me the life I was living while others lived in relative peace.
When I my life fell completely apart, I moved in with my best friend’s family. Although my uncle was incredibly kind and offered me a place with family, this was my best option since it allowed me to finish high school with my friends. They were all I had left.
They were a Christian family, so when they offered me a place to live, we arrived at a mutual understanding. I wanted to make sure they would not try to convert me. I was an atheist and they had to accept me on those terms. They agreed, explaining that they would pray or read scripture at dinner and that is just how they live. I accepted that, and wouldn’t question their motives.
Their request: that I would follow the rules and not create turmoil in the house.
I knew exactly what she meant.
You have to understand that I was a terrible influence on my best friend. I would always push the envelope and end up keeping her out too late. I would call when I wasn’t supposed to. I would try to get her to break rules. I wanted to open my friend’s eyes to see that God wasn’t real. I couldn’t bring myself to tell her what was going on at home, so instead I pushed her to try things that weren’t good for her. I wanted her to see that the rules imposed by her religion were just keeping her from fun or keeping her ignorant, rather than keeping her safe… To get her to see that she was living in some sort of bubble.
This is why I was surprised that these folks helped me all summer after my mother died, and invited me into their home at all. I knew they shouldn’t be so nice to me, but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to live there. Despite the fact that I was constantly undermining them for over a year, I was jealous of my friend’s stable home.
“What do you say to someone like me?”
The night I moved in, my best friend was still away working at camp. After I settled in a few of my things, I sat down with my friend’s mom and I asked her the question burning in my mind.
“If you believe God is good, why did he allow this to happen to me? I am not much worse than anyone else… what do you say to someone like me?”
She didn’t shrink back. She was honest. She told me that she didn’t have an exact answer for my situation. But what she understood, she would share with me.
She explained that life was like a tapestry. As Christians, they believe that life is a work of art by God and some day we will see the work of art more fully. Right now, we can only see the back side of the tapestry. We see knots, we see blobs of color, thread, and obscured details. We are told it is a work of art, but from our perspective it just seems to be a mess. In faith, Christians believe that they will see the other side some day and we will be able to marvel at the work of art – we will understand why the thread went that way, and why there was a knot there… it will be beautiful.
I was intrigued. She continued with a more concrete example. The last year they were looking to buy a house. I remembered my friend talking about it all year. They had prayed, asking God for certain things in the house – nothing extravagant though. I remember my friend getting so excited when they found the perfect house – everything they had been looking for in a price they could afford. It was a miracle in such an expensive area.
But then the house inspection revealed a crack in the foundation. When they went to seller to have the price adjusted for repairs, they refused to budge a penny. I remembered their heartbreak. It was an incredible let down.
My friend’s mom told me they had a big question for God: When they found the perfect house, why wouldn’t God let them have it?
At the time, they couldn’t imagine a single reason. They were frustrated, but by faith they had to believe that God had things worked out even if they couldn’t see it. But now they understood at least one major reason, and they are glad God didn’t give them that house.
I was fascinated. I knew how excited they were, what could possibly be a good reason? What she said changed my life forever.
She reminded me the house only had a limited number of bedrooms, as it was smaller than the house they were renting. It would have been okay for their family, as one child was already away at college.
But God knew I was coming, that I needed a place. A safe place, with enough personal space to grieve. That house would not have enough room. But God was mindful that I needed a place, so he kept them in the rental house a bit longer, so that there would be a place for me in my time of need. Knowing that, they wouldn’t wish things any differently that the way God allowed it to be.
I was speechless.
This family, who had every reason to want me away mailed in a box to Abu Dhabi, saw my need, and acted as their faith taught them – in spite of the personal cost and risk to their comfort… they didn’t just offer me platitudes as many others (Christians and otherwise) had done. Instead, they put themselves on the line.
I just couldn’t believe that anyone would care for me that much. No one ever had. I had seen some of the worst that humanity had to offer, and I knew that there is no way people could be this kind and merciful by themselves. They had seen me at my worst, and somehow they looked beyond it.
I knew that I had to understand what these people believed, because it certainly wasn’t anything like what I had been taught about Christianity before. It started me on a journey that I continue to this day.
Together, Behind the Tapestry
Living here, Behind the Tapestry, can be discouraging and frustrating. We encounter great suffering as we live in broken world with a limited perspective.
But every so often, we get a glimpse of the majestic work of art waiting to be revealed. Some day, we will see it clearly and it will take our breath away.
Until then, we wrestle with how to live life on this side of eternity. As I work through it, I will share with you in faith so that we might not lose hope as we wait for that work of art to be revealed.
1 Corinthians 13:12
12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.