Mrs. Erante

sewing machine and fabric isolated on white

I heard an Amy Grant song today and I remembered Mrs. Erante.

Mrs Erante must have liked Amy Grant, or must have thought teenage girls liked Amy Grant, because she played her Amy Grant CD every time we came over to her house for home economics.

The name ‘home economics’ did not sound inviting to me, but I had friends going, so I wanted to go, too.  I was, I had to admit, minimally excited at the prospects of being able to cook and sew by the end class, mostly because I simply believed it was “beneath me” to do such things . . . and I didn’t want to be stomped on by a husband someday.  But, then, there was a really valid reason for my avoidance, too: I was going to be terrible at home economics.  I was pretty sure.

Each week, Mrs. Erante had a different project for us.  We made jam one week.  I think we made cloth covers for the jam lids, too.  I couldn’t make mine.  Mrs. Erante made mine.

We decorated country baskets with cloth and lace on the top.  I couldn’t make mine.  Mrs. Erante made mine.

We sewed aprons for ourselves.  I spent half of my childhood in the fabric shop.  Turns out, there are a lot of choices for aprons.  I at last chose a cool frog pattern.  Mrs. Erante taught us how to estimate cutting for our patterns and how to use the sewing machine.  I couldn’t estimate cutting or use the sewing machine.  Mrs. Erante made mine.

Project after project, week after week, I couldn’t do whatever it was everybody else was doing.  So Mrs. Erante made mine.

My projects always looked really nice.  In fact, mine gave the best girl in the class a run for her money.  Mine always had neat seams.  Mine always had, well, industrial quality.  Yes, I would have made a very fine housewife, so long as Mrs. Erante came along.

One day, we learned how to cross-stitch.  Amazingly, incredibly enough, this was something I could actually do.  We had four patterns we could pick from, all animals on wheels.  I picked out the rabbit on wheels.  There was that second when Mrs. Erante actually realized I could do something.  You would have thought I had become a Betsy Ross.  Mrs. Erante was very proud of me.

I gave that cross-stitch pillow (pillow that Mrs. Erante made) to my father.  He kept it at work.  Years and years later, when I went with my mom to clean out his office because he was dying, I found that pillow.  The end of the cross-stitch was unraveling.

Mrs. Erante could have fixed that, if only I could have given it to her.  I can see it now, my eyes wide with fear of unraveling myself as I handed her a project I couldn’t handle . . . that smile on her face she somehow had for me as she fixed everything I botched or was too scared to attempt.

I don’t think Mrs. Erante knew she was teaching me about the relationship with God I would have one day.

I confess, this is my day in prayer: eyes bubbling with tears, lip quivering in disappointment with myself and rage that I cannot seem to do anything right, I hand God my projects.  At the start of this, I was as shy with Him as I was with Mrs. Erante.  I was afraid He might be mad or hate me.  But I have gone to Him enough now that I am quite over my fear.

I give Him whatever I have bungled or am way too scared to try at, and He takes it.  And time after time after time after time after time after time, when you would think He would be ready to backhand me, He mends my tatters and patches my tears.  God is really good about that.  I don’t know why.

The more I know God, the more I realize I don’t understand Him.  I would never act that way towards me.  I would never take my disasters and give back mercy.  I would never take my failures and give back grace.   And I would never take my really awful sins and give back love.

I don’t know why God is this way, but I want to thank Mrs. Erante for foreshadowing, just a bit, what salvation would be like for me.

Thank you, Mrs. Erante.

Thank you, God.

In him [Jesus] and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. (Ephesians 3:12, NIV)

 

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