Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Stop Worrying about the Sequins!

Some years back, Mom and I were working on costumes for our local Junior Miss Program. Budgets were tight, but we wanted to make a splash, so it always required some creative costuming, and this year was one of our better ones. The girls would be wearing black leggings and black t-shirts, over which different layers were added to make two very different costumes for the production number and then for Fitness.

The production number was to Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth”, and it was going to be stunning! To really make it glitzy, we went for sequin-embellished tops. In order to accommodate our budget we did this by gluing sequins on to mesh netting, which would be worn over their black t-shirts. A good swath…or rather, starburst…of glue was laid down, and then we used tweezers to lay out fuchsia sequins. It was tedious, but we only had about 10 of them to do, and we could laugh and visit while we made them.

Mom, however, was getting frustrated. She would lay out her sequins, and then when they dried, she would find some that fell off. She’d lay it out again, put on more glue, and put down the sequins. And of course, more would fall off when she picked it up the next time. I was finishing three to her one.

I kept trying to explain to her that individual sequins didn’t matter, it was the overall effect that we were going for. Having been in charge of costumes for years, I had learned that you didn’t have to make it picture perfect up close, so long as the end product was pleasing on stage. (Honestly, I used Saran Wrap as big wide bow belts one year!)

Still, she muttered and puttered until I finally got irritated.

“Stop worrying about the sequins, woman!” I reminded her. “Do you really think that the audience is going to notice a few dropped sequins from off of the stage?”

In truth, you couldn’t even tell that there were any sequins missing if you stood back a foot or two. You could be missing 25 or 30 sequins, for that matter, but the effect was still the same as if we had spent days sewing on each tiny little glittery speck. There was an acceptable level of loss, given the circumstances. It was a costume. It was meant to last five minutes on stage, and it didn’t have to be perfect.

She was not convinced, at first, but agreed to stop focusing on each sequin. We finally completed the tops and were ready for the big night.

Some days later, we were talking about another issue that had come up in our lives, and she had an epiphany. The ‘sequin rule’ applied in that instance, too! She had been worrying so much about a singular subject that she neglected to step back and look at the big picture. In the grand scheme of things, the problem was minor – a few dropped sequins. It didn’t ruin the pattern of her life, however, and therefore…she needed to just stop worrying about the small stuff.

From that day forth, she catches herself as she gets caught in one of those situations, and she’ll laugh and say, “I’m worrying about the sequins again, aren’t I?”

How many times have we focused on one little sequin, while losing sight of the glorious masterpiece that we are creating in our lives? Have we spent too much time on little details that will be lost in the long run? Kept ourselves from progressing because we were trying to put back every little thing that fell out of place, when it really didn’t affect our eternal salvation? What more could we achieve if we could look at our work, be satisfied with what we have accomplished, and then move on to bigger and better things? Do we really need to control everything so tightly that we cannot lift our heads to enjoy the complete work?

Tonight, I was talking with a friend about the injustices that some endure here on earth. She was trying to understand WHY. The only thing that I could say was that sometimes, we have to go through trials to learn something, or to grow in some way. But I also believe that sometimes, we suffer in order to help another to learn something. When you look at it that way, it makes these things easier to bear. If, in the end, we have helped another along the path, then our own tiny bit of suffering – for that is what it is in the eternal scheme of things – is worth it. We will have lost a single sequin, for the sake of a grand production.

Our costumes were dazzling, by the way, and the production was perfect. The tops were cast aside, never to be worn again, and not a single person commented on any missing sequins. Life is good.

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