“It can’t be done,” my friend said matter-of-factly.
We were in the process of decorating our very own “Christmas tree”—made up of stacked Starbucks paper cups—and wanted to wrap glittery garlands around it. But they were, unfortunately, entangled in one gigantic knot.
I had volunteered to untangle the garlands just as she was about to cut them. Having tried—in vain—to untangle the knots the day before, she believed that it would be more practical to simply snip the garlands apart at the knots and use the shortened sections.
But her insistence that the garlands couldn’t be salvaged had made me even more determined. “You just need to set your mind to it,” I told her confidently. “It can be done, even if it takes me a while—like two years,” I added in jest. She looked half-convinced but wisely decided not to tangle with me.
As I surveyed the knotty mess in my hands, I realized it was a lot more complicated than I had originally thought. Good job for getting yourself into this, I thought. There were two Christmas garlands entangled and the knots looked fairly complicated. It didn’t help that both garlands were of the same color: gold.
I decided to start with the biggest, most stubborn of knots, loosening it and trying as much as I could to not introduce more knots. But after looping the strings one over the other for a good 10 minutes, I was convinced that my efforts had come to naught; there had to be a better method. Just like life, I thought, one look at all our problems and we’re overwhelmed. It’s so easy to give up.
A thought came to mind: What about starting at one end and working from there? Thankfully, there were at least two ends in sight. I picked one up and started weaving it in and out of the tangled knots. Why is untangling a mess in life always so tedious?
A good 20 minutes went by. Progress was slow but visible—I could see more and more of the loose, untangled end. There you go—surrender your problems to God, and He’ll give you the patience, perseverance, and strength to sort them out, bit by bit, one at a time.
Guess I spoke too soon. Just as I was about to give myself a pat on the pack, I hit a really stubborn knot. Life always has to throw us surprises when things are going well, doesn’t it?
I had no choice but to abandon that end of the garland and start at the other end. Applying the same technique, I weaved the string in and out, over and over again. Some 35 minutes passed: the huge knot in the center appeared to be shrinking. Wow, imagine the amount of effort and patience God puts in to untangle the mess in our life.
For some reason, the last part was the trickiest and most difficult to untie. My patience was wearing thin but I refused to give up. I kept at it and finally, after a good 45 minutes, both strings came apart.
“Yes!” I exclaimed, waving the individual garlands victoriously. My friend’s eyes widened. “How did you do it?” She asked incredulously. Proudly, I explained how I had started with the ends and weaved them in and out of the small knots before proceeding to the main knot. The garlands will probably get tangled again someday, just like our problems. But we can trust God with them. By His grace, we’ll be able to straighten out our lives again.
“You just have to start small,” I said.