Jesus Doesn’t Leave Holes. He Fixes Them.

by | Jul 2, 2021 | Uncategorized | 11 comments

What reknitting socks taught me about Jesus
Merchandise is Here!

I’d like to tell you a story today about socks, holes, and re-knitting something beautiful.

I love knitting socks. Well, I love knitting anything, but socks are great when it’s hot because they’re small so they don’t lay in your lap when it’s hot. So they’re a good summer project.

Over the years I have knit TONS of socks. 

Right now Keith and I are enjoying some downtime camping, and when I camp, I tend to make socks my go-to knitting project because they’re quick, portable, and light.

Plus they’re fun.

The problem with socks, though, is that as lovely as they start out, they get worn. They get holes in the toes and in the heels. They wear out, and it looks like the only option is to trash them.

But I just see this as a challenge! I pull out the toes–or even the whole foot if necessary–and I reknit it. And presto! Brand new socks!

Knitting Socks back on stitches

I don’t know why, but there’s a part of me that likes taking things that would otherwise be garbage and turning them into something new.

I wrote about this project three years ago, and I said this:

Getting in a Good Pattern for Marriage

From Are You in a Good Pattern for Your Marriage?

Sometimes you have to use different wool, because the old stuff won’t work. Sometimes you have to change what they look like. But they can be comfortable and warm again.

Maybe I love doing this because it’s a metaphor for what I feel like God is calling me to do–and for what Jesus himself does in our lives.

As we’re going through life, we get comfortable. We know what’s expected of us. We fall into habits.

Humans are built for that. If we didn’t have habits, we’d have to think about every single little thing throughout the day. Habits let us go on autopilot in some areas of our lives, so we can use our brain power and our emotions for other things.

And so we have these habits–these ways of relating to each other; these ways of seeing the world; these ways of seeing God.

But what happens when these habits slowly but surely hurt us? When we rub against things the wrong way? When we do this again and again and again? Holes start to form. Your life starts to fray. Suddenly what felt comfortable no longer does.

Even if we’ve tried to fix things in the past (like these socks whose heels I have darned so many times already), it doesn’t work anymore.

Knitting Socks back on stitches

Life stops working.

I think that’s what so many people are experiencing right now with the church and its teachings around sex and marriage.

At one time, we took it all at face value. Men want sex and women don’t; men are entitled to sex from their wives; women are stumbling blocks to men; men need sex in a way that women will never understand; women must defer to men and not speak up because that’s part of being a godly woman.

And things started to fray. To come apart at the edges.

We’re realizing that it’s not working anymore–that it was never meant to work in the first place. We’re realizing that we can’t keep going on this way, because it’s hurting us. It’s hurting our marriage. It’s hurting our kids.

We need to walk forward in health.

But that’s scary, because it’s like letting go of everything you thought you believed.

Before I fix a sock, I have to do something radical. I have to cut it.

 

Knitting Socks back on stitches

It’s scary to cut it, because what if you lose all the stitches and can’t pick them back up again? What if it’s wrecked forever?

Knitting Socks back on stitches

But that first step, that scary step, is necessary. Because once the foot is cut, you can pick up the stitches. You can find what’s real, and you can build on that. You can keep the solid part of the foundation, but you can build something that is stronger. 

Knitting Socks back on stitches

It’s amazing how many of Jesus’ teachings focus on telling us to step out of our comfort zone and stop doing things the way they’ve always been done. He challenges the spiritual leaders of the day. He tells people to do radical things. And then, in doing so, they find true health and true life again. They find Him.

(I wish I had a picture of these done but they’re still a work in progress! But they give you the picture).

Knitting Socks back on stitches

Letting go of what you believe about sex and marriage does not mean that you’re letting go of Jesus.

When the scissors are out, it can feel that way. What if I lose everything? What it often means instead is that we find Jesus in a whole new way. We find true healing, true wholeness. We let go of the things that were causing shame. We experience real intimacy, maybe even for the first time.

As I’ve been knitting and taking some time away, I’ve been processing what it’s been like since The Great Sex Rescue was published in March.

And I think it’s a lot like these socks.

The old way isn’t working. We know it leaves holes in us. For the first few years of marriage, it may feel normal. even comfortable. But eventually we know this isn’t right. There’s got to be something more than this–something more humanizing, more intimate, more real. Things start to fall apart. And we can’t see a way through.

We know that the obligation sex message is toxic. We know that women should not be ashamed of our sexuality. We know that making women responsible for men’s sin isn’t right.

But what do we do with that?

And I’ve been calling people to rip off, to tear up–but then, I hope, I’ve also been calling on people to rebuild.

To reknit. To rescue.

To make something even more beautiful.

To see sex not as a male entitlement, but as something mutual, intimate, and pleasurable. To make that real in your marriage.

That’s why, in The Great Sex Rescue, we don’t just show what DOESN’T work. We have sections that rescue and reframe these toxic teachings in ways that focus back on Jesus. And people have told us that’s the most helpful part of the book.

I’ve received so many emails that have said just that:

 

Your book has started the uncomfortable journey of unpacking and healing from the distorted views on women and marriage that I grew up with.

Your teachings have renewed my love for Jesus and my hope for the future of my marriage. It’s not an exaggeration to say that you have changed my life. I’ve bought a bunch of books because of your podcast and I’m so excited to see a clear, biblically-sound path out of gender hierarchy. I finally feel free to find God’s calling and walk in it. It’s very simple, and it seems stupidly obvious… But God doesn’t love men more than He loves women! Whether or not that’s how people meant it, that’s how I interpreted and internalized doctrine as a teenager and young woman.

Thank you for putting me on a new path.

Sometimes, of course, marriages can’t be reknit the way we might want.

Some women have told me my book has been so helpful as they’ve been processing the reality of abuse in their marriage. And seeing Jesus’ heart for marriage and for sex has been so healing, even if the marriage fell apart. Throughout their marriage, they were sexually abused and coerced, but they thought that Jesus wanted this. They thought Jesus said ” do not refuse your husband.” They didn’t understand what “do not deprive” really meant. They didn’t realize THEY were the ones being deprived!

And knowing that Jesus was not the ultimate cause of their pain allowed the re-knitting to begin.

It’s like I wrote a few years ago:

Getting in a Good Pattern for Marriage

From Are You in a Good Pattern for Your Marriage?

Jesus does not wound. Jesus does not throw darts. Jesus does not make holes; Jesus mends them.

And let me say–if someone has left holes in you, Jesus wants to reknit that (and excuse me for stretching the metaphor).

Jesus doesn’t leave holes in you.

I know so many of you are going through radical faith journeys right now, and  you’re not sure where you’ll end up. I Just want to encourage you today that Jesus doesn’t mind questioning. He invites it! He is big enough to handle your questions. And I do believe that the things that caused shame and caused holes in your life were not of Jesus. I believe and pray that when you confront those things, you’ll find Jesus.

I’ve been on a rebuilding–reknitting–journey myself.

I may share more of this next week, but I’ve realized as I’ve been camping that a lot of the righteous anger that I have felt as I have called out people for saying that women are methadone for their husbands’ sex addictions is actually grief. I’m profoundly sad, especially that others in big leadership positions in the evangelical world haven’t spoken up, even if they agree with me.

It’s made me question what my faith is supposed to look like. It’s been hard. But it’s also been very, very good.

And I think I needed to get away to let myself feel it.

I don’t know where you are in your faith journey.

Maybe you’ve already re-knit, and you’re in a good place! Maybe life feels a bit like your toes are dancing right now.

Knitting Socks back on stitches

Or maybe you’re still struggling. Wherever you are, I’m glad you’re here. I hope we can reknit and rebuild together. And it’s always, always okay to ask questions.

The Great Sex Rescue

Changing the conversation about sex & marriage in the evangelical church.

What if you’re NOT the problem with your sex life?

What if the things that you’ve been taught have messed things up–and what if there’s a way to escape these messages?

Welcome to the Great Sex Rescue.

Jesus Doesn't Leave Holes in Your Life: An Illustration from Knitting Socks

Have you had to rip out and reknit something in your life recently? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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11 Comments

  1. Noel

    Excellent metaphor! And you are right, so many of us are in this place of confusion regarding what we believe and what is true. Your website has been part of making me really look at what the Bible says, versus what we see. There are a LOT of loose ends out there that are not a part of the original pattern.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      There really are! I’m glad I could help you think through these things. I hope at the end we all find Jesus in a more authentic way.

      Reply
  2. EOF

    I’m so grateful for your website! It took me years to really process the message you’ve been sharing, and now I’m definitely on a new faith journey. It’s like I’m seeking Jesus all over again with new eyes. I’m in such a different place as a 40-something than I was in my teens. But I’m so grateful!

    I grew up damaged from a very non-Christian upbringing. When I heard all the marriage advice, I thought it had to be true not because I grew up hearing it but because it was the OPPOSITE of what I knew. It had to be the truth. Yet it only damaged me further.

    Now I see that neither was right, neither was good. But Jesus still is, even if he was vilified by people claiming to follow him.

    Reply
  3. Lisa

    I love metaphors. I am not a knitter but I am a gardener. And I see metaphors for life in gardening all the time.

    Pruning. To get the best growth and fruit, you need to look for branches that are not promoting what you want. Pinch them off while they’re small. Understand the science of pruning before you start. Start slowly and respectfully. You can always prune more later but you cannot un-prune. In life, we need to regularly look at how we are expending time and energy and prune. Our pruning will look different than other people’s pruning. But refusing to prune can lead to a bushiness that may look okay but very little fruit is produced.

    Nuturing. TLC, especially when a plant is young or it’s a difficult season (we’re having a horrific heat wave and drought this year. My plants need TLC to survive this.) We need to ask for what we need as well as observe others for signs of stress. Extra support is needed during seasons of stress and during youth.

    WATCHING and OBSERVING (that’s huge for gardening and horticulture). Your plants will let you know when they’re not getting what they need. If what you’re doing to help doesn’t make them look healthy and vibrant, you haven’t helped. If you are following some kind of protocol in your life and it’s not helping, don’t double down and try harder. As a fitness professional, I see this ALL THE TIME, unfortunately. I work with women who try to follow these crazy diets and, even though they’re not getting great results and they feel like garbage, they are told the solution is to be even more strict, not toss the diet out the window. Same with relationship advice or spiritual advice. If it is not producing great results, toss it.

    Studying (all gardeners should take up botany. Our grandparents knew a lot but they taught us some gardening myths, too!) I cannot tell you how many people perpetuate gardening myths. A big one is that watering plants on a sunny afternoon will scorch them. FALSE! It doesn’t even make sense. If water droplet on leaves amplified sunlight to the point of damage, plants couldn’t survive the sun coming out after a rain storm. There are good reasons to water early in the morning, but if your plants are showing signs of stress in the afternoon, believing that myth could lead to their death. Attend to signs of water stress immediately. In life, do not take proverbs, sayings, and old teachings for granted, assuming they are true. Study. Look at research. Trust your own experience, even if it defies research. Look at what is right in front of you. Others may be saying something is true but if you can see evidence that it’s not true, go with your experience. This is how paradigm shifts start. Permaculture started with a few people learning to trust what they saw instead of just following what everyone else has always done. I do not garden the way my grandmother did. I don’t own a rototiller, I do not till at all. I respect and honor the soil and it’s own processes and I aim to disturb the soil as little as possible. And my results are the proof that this is more efficient, both with time and money. Know that you are beautifully and wonderfully made. You are good. You don’t need to be tilled and changed and filled with chemicals. You deserved to be honored and respected as you are. Often, letting someone “be” is the best healing.

    Prevention. One of my favorite gardening proverbs is, “One year’s seeding leads to seven years of weeding.” What that means is that if you ignore your weeds for one year and let them go to seed, you will be pulling up the growth from those seeds for SEVEN years. It is far more efficient to deal with your weeds as they come rather than letting them go to seed. This is true in our lives and in our relationships. Dealing with our own weeds early is so much simpler and efficient than waiting until they have spread and infiltrated our whole garden.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Love all this, Lisa! Absolutely great metaphors, too.

      And this sentence is sadly all too true: ” If you are following some kind of protocol in your life and it’s not helping, don’t double down and try harder.” Yep.

      Reply
  4. Laura

    Wow! Excellent metaphor Sheila!

    Even though I’m not a knitter (but I love doing other kinds of crafts), I am encouraged by the re-mended socks. It’s still a sock, but it looks different, just like my faith. I’ve been on a bit of a deconstructing or reconstructing journey in the last year. For many years, I was always troubled by the submission in marriage doctrine and thought something was wrong with me because I just could NOT agree that the husband should make all of the decisions. My parents were not churchgoers and they had a great marriage until my father passed away eight years ago. Their’s was a marriage of two equals making decisions together. That’s the kind of marriage I have always wanted, but other Christians said that it wasn’t biblical because the husband is the head of the household and needs to be the one to make the final decision.

    Within these past few months, I have come to a decision that I cannot adhere to this submission doctrine that’s been promoted among Christians for many years. I’m in the process of writing a book about this topic and tying it in with negative experiences (my first marriage) I faced from this doctrine. God knows my heart and He wants me to be real with Him. Thank you for the encouragement.

    Reply
  5. Heather

    But Jesus is a faithful friend, right? Maybe he wounds (our pride for instance, or our clinging to self-preservation), but doesn’t harm?

    Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. Proverbs 27:6

    Reply
  6. Nathan

    The garden metaphor is very nice, and appropriate since it’s all about nurturing. In fact, I think that Jesus used a gardening metaphor once Himself.

    Reply
  7. Liz

    I just started reading your book, The Great Sex Rescue, after I listened to your podcast on BTR.org. I am absolutely astounded by your research and depth and breadth of your studies and your ability to articulate it. The way you debunk the Christian best selling authors- who have been destroying sex with their obligation/duty-bound approach to sex….I especially like the data, the Rescuing and Reframing. So much light and understanding is invigorating!!! I am so excited to teach and talk with my daughters and sons in a new way with a new perspective. My “ah-ha” moments have come repeatedly….but when I began Ch 10, I had to stop and post. This. Is. Real. I am so glad I had enough courage 5 years ago to divorce my then husband. We had 6 children together. It was not easy. I have a profound faith in the transformative power through Christ, and so I stayed for almost 18 years. Finally, through a series of events and spiritual insights, I said, “It’s enough!” My journey to heal during the marriage and now afterwards from the years of abuse has been so freeing. Your book is one of the most important in this journey. I didn’t know I was in an abusive marriage until I got out. Sexual coercion anytime, even IN marriage is destructive to the soul. I lived in sexual distortion for almost 2 decades!!! It almost crushed my soul. And I have carried guilt for that- the pain the divorce has caused on my children, his continued psychological, verbal, and emotional abuse towards me and my children (who I can no longer protect). It’s awful. But I am finding healing. Strength. Cutting the ties of trauma bonds. And I’m so happy. Thank you for your relentless efforts. You have helped me…and another generation as I teach my children. Thank you for responding to your gut- to God’s call to you!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you so much for that encouragement, Liz! I’m so glad that God could use my book to be healing in your life. Truly. And I’m so glad you’re in a better place now, too!

      Reply

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