Before the kids left for camp, I noticed that my son Clay’s favorite swim trunks had a seam that needed reinforcement. I didn’t want it to come undone when he was away swimming, jumping, and diving every day. So, I got out a needle and thread, but I struggled to thread the needle. I put my bifocals on and still couldn’t see well enough to get the thread through the eye. I recalled my mom handing me her thread and needle when I was a teenager and asking me to thread it. Now, I knew why. Without a needle threading tool, I couldn’t see my way to thread the needle.
When the kids came home from summer camp, a Covid outbreak shut down the remainder of the summer camp season and put us in a fourteen-day quarantine. Our entire family has generally stayed home during these past few months of the Covid crisis. Ben works from home, the kids did online school, and I was at home as usual. But when summer came before the kids went to camp, the kids and I retreated to the pool almost every day because we could be outside there and still socially distance from others. When we had to quarantine due to our camp exposure though, we couldn’t go to the pool or inside anywhere. While thankful that we did not suffer any symptoms, our emotional states rode quite a roller coaster.
We felt a bit claustrophobic. We struggled mentally – we knew we had to do the right thing and stay away from others, but we were not accustomed to the resulting stir craziness. We shed some tears and yelled a bit more than normal. At times, I felt as though our efforts to maintain balance were akin to trying to thread a needle. And yet, it was hard to see a way to do it successfully. Difficult to establish harmony and navigate our strong personalities and opinions.
Certainly, we’re not the only family, organization, or community that has found it hard to thread the needle this year. We’re all dealing with more tension and stress than in normal times, and the anxiety it breeds differs in so many ways. Our vision is obscured and blurry. We can’t see the future with any sense of clarity. The more we concentrate, the less focus we have.
We cannot bring peace to our immediate circles when we’re feeling unsettled ourselves. We cannot successfully keep everyone around us calm without support. But if we look to God to center our hearts and minds, we will find help for ourselves so that we can then help others. God is like the ultimate needle threader. By seeking God’s vision for our lives, we can better see how to thread the needle and bring cohesion to our families and friends.
I’ve worn a bracelet this summer that reads “be still” in reference to the verse from the Psalms, “Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10. This statement has always given me relief. Even more so now. We don’t have to figure everything out. We don’t have to control everything or everyone (we can’t anyway). We don’t have to do any of this by ourselves. We can lean on God for comfort. If we focus on God, we will have guidance and reassurance.
My vision doesn’t give me the capability to thread the needle easily. In fact, my view of things may make it impossible. Even though we may lack a clear picture of what comes next, we can depend on God to bring a sense of peace to us and those around us. God will help us see how to thread the needle as we make our way in these uncertain times.