A few years ago I purchased an awesome sweater. It was wool, hand-spun from adorable doe eyed Irish sheep…and then a few months later, in a moment of preoccupation, I threw it into a load of laundry with my bedding…and it came out looking like a straitjacket for a two year old. For years this sweater has been sitting in the bottom of a bin of fabric, filled with scrap odds and ends all waiting to be repurposed.

For years, instead of looking at this sweater with hope and expectation…every time I found this sweater I felt a pang of regret…a little whisper of guilt for my carelessness. Desens House has been sorting clothes for Second Chances for the last few months and as we head into the colder months it seems like we’re always short on mittens. So this week I excavated my scrap bin and found that old sweater and turned it into mittens to give away to our friends in need.

Just thinking about these mittens makes me smile. They are very homemade looking. They are irregularly shaped and a bit snug along the wrist, but they will serve their purpose well, and someone with cold hands will be thankful for the gesture.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this sweater. So many times I’ve made mistakes, sometimes carelessly, sometimes willfully, and those mistakes have had consequences. I’ve buried my misshapen failures in the bottom of a drawer and occasionally, when I think about them, I feel a sense of loss, shame, or regret. Sometimes this regret is so big it eclipses the possibility of hope.

When my sweater was transformed into mittens it was given a new name “mittens” and a new identity. The misshapen mistake was refashioned into something beautiful, imbued with hope and a purpose. Sometimes it’s hard to see the smiling face of God when we’re so fixated on our mistakes, but I think God doesn’t look at us this way. He has transformed our “sweaters” into “mittens” and he smiles as our imperfections that reflect his glory.

This Saturday, Desens House and the Elim Grace Youth Group will be making sweater mittens to give away to those in need. If you would like to donate a shrunken sweater to this project please contact me for more details!

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