Hearts Knit Together in Unity and Love

By Jess Friedman

Confession: I am not a knitter. My grandmother taught me how when I was a child and I still know the basics, but she also taught me how to crochet and that’s the fiber art I ran with. (I mean, not literally. That would be dangerous…) I mention this here at the beginning in an effort to beg your forgiveness if I preach any knitting false doctrine in this post. I did try to do my due diligence with research, but if I get anything wrong, please feel free to correct me in the comments.

I love scriptural object lessons. I love the imagery so expertly wrapped up in seemingly innocuous references to everyday items, occupations, or nature. Delving into these symbols can be a great way to enrich scripture study and open the door to personal revelation.

One such object lesson that recently caught my eye was the concept of having our “hearts knit together in unity and love” (Mosiah 18:21, see also Col. 2:2). The image of knitted hearts was so evocative for me that I had to take a closer look, and I found hidden in those simple words a beautiful lesson for creating unity and strengthening relationships in our homes, our congregations, and our communities.

A Single Thread

Knit fabrics are made by creating a series of interconnected loops out of a single piece of thread or yarn. (Yes, I know that’s a bit of an oversimplification because knitters can use multiple yarns in the same project, but for all intents and purposes, they function as a single unit.)

Likewise, we are all the same thread: the family of God. Regardless of what we look like or what our background looks like, every single person on this planet is a beloved child of Heavenly Parents. We are connected to each other by our shared ancestry and divine heritage.

I recently learned an interesting fact. When early European colonizers encountered a variety of different indigenous people, they asked what they called themselves. They took the names offered as indications of tribal affiliation without realizing that many of these words—such as Diné, Tāngata, and Kanaka—meant “people.”

And yet, there are so many ways the world tries to divide us up: white or black. Male or female. Rich or poor. Republican or Democrat. LGTBQ or straight. Believer or non-believer. They use those divisions to drive wedges between us and engender conflict. When we fail to treat others as our literal brothers and sisters, we are excluding an integral part of our collective identity.

In ancient times, a Prophet named Enoch filled a city with righteous followers of God. Moses 7:18 says, “And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them.” Imagine if we were to create such conditions in our communities today. If we loved everyone, regardless of the divisions society tries to force upon us, and worked instead to align our hearts and minds so that all were taken care of.

Secure Stitches

Each stitch is suspended from the one above it and connected to those on every side. A stitch that has not yet been secured by other stitches is at greater risk of coming undone when the yarn is pulled.

Just as each stitch in a piece of knit fabric relies on the stitches around it to hold it in place, we must support one another. Indeed, our baptismal covenants require it of us:

As ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death… what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?

Bearing one another’s burdens and mourning with those that mourn goes deeper than just offering a kind word when someone is having a hard time (although that certainly helps). It includes recognizing and fighting against the inequities that give some people an advantage and disadvantage others. It means hearing and believing the experiences of others even if they’re different than what you have experienced or been taught. It means following the Savior’s example of giving the poor, the sinners, and the outcasts a seat at the table and the opportunity to grow.

Ancient wisdom reminds us that we all drink from wells we did not dig. Recognizing the privileges we have experienced in life and extending help and relief to others is not only essential to the success of all of God’s children, but it is a commandment. The Book of Mormon Prophet King Benjamin taught:

And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.

shelves with colorful wool and yarn in a knitting shop
Photo by ronstik (Adobe Stock)

A Variety of Colors and Stitches

The color and type of thread and the different stitches used contribute to both the beauty and the usefulness of knitted fabrics. Even within the same garment, they can affect a knit fabric’s durability, warmth, stretch, aesthetics, and so on.

Likewise, people of all varieties contribute to the beauty and progress of humanity. As Paul taught the Corinthians:

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him…. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you…. [There] should be no schism in the body; but [the] members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

Elder Quentin L. Cook taught, “Unity is enhanced when people are treated with dignity and respect, even though they are different in outward characteristics.… With our all-inclusive doctrine, we can be an oasis of unity and celebrate diversity. Unity and diversity are not opposites.”[1]

Dropped Stitches

Dropping a stitch or getting a hole can cause the partial or complete unraveling of a knitted fabric. When we overlook or exclude a person or group of people, we are essentially “dropping a stitch” that can lead to a partial or complete breakdown of our community.

A report from the Mayo Clinic noted:

The sense of belonging is fundamental to the way humankind organizes itself…. We cannot separate the importance of a sense of belonging from our physical and mental health. The social ties that accompany a sense of belonging are a protective factor helping manage stress and other behavioral issues. When we feel we have support and are not alone, we are more resilient, often coping more effectively with difficult times in our lives. Coping well with hardships decreases the physical and mental effects of these situations…. Depression, anxiety and suicide are common mental health conditions associated with lacking a sense of belonging. These conditions can lead to social behaviors that interfere with a person’s ability to connect to others, creating a cycle of events that further weakens a sense of belonging.

The good news is, there are ways to fix a dropped stitch in a knitting project. There are also ways to reach out to those who have been overlooked and make sure they feel like they belong. We can serve in our community, seek out opportunities to learn about people and cultures that are different from our own, and expand our circle of friends to include those who might be feeling left out.

Unravelling knitted fabric on white background
Photo by Tanya Joy (Adobe Stock)

Frogging

Despite our best efforts, sometimes a knitting project becomes so riddled with problems that the best course of action is to pull it apart and start over—a process known colloquially as “frogging.” And sometimes, creating more unity in a community might mean dismantling some long-held beliefs, traditions, and social structures that do more harm than good.

Elder Cook shared this explanation of a time when some “social frogging” became necessary: “The early Church in Rome was composed of Jews and Gentiles. These early Jews had a Judaic culture [while] the Gentiles in Rome had a culture with a significant Hellenistic influence… Paul chronicles pertinent aspects of both Judaic and Gentile culture that conflict with the true gospel of Jesus Christ [and] essentially asks each of them to leave behind [these] cultural impediments.”[1]

Even in the modern church, there are certain traditions and beliefs that are inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Many of those draw upon those aforementioned man-made divisions, and they cause pride, contention, and anger. But as Jesus taught the Nephites, “he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend… one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men… one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Ne. 11:29-30).

We have to do better. President Russell M. Nelson has said, “We are impressed to call on people of this nation, and indeed, the entire world, to demonstrate greater civility, racial, and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect.”[2]

Sis. Wendy Nelson said, “Therapeutic change happens when the beliefs at the root of the issue are distinguished, challenged, or solidified… Constraining beliefs prevent us from finding solutions and making progress.” [3]

As we strive to have our hearts knit in unity and love, we may find ourselves in the uncomfortable but necessary position of identifying and challenging constraining beliefs based on the incorrect traditions of our culture, solidifying our belief that all people are the children of a loving Heavenly Father, and changing our behavior so that it better aligns with the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Binding

Finishing a knit fabric requires “binding,” a process which secures the final stitch and prevents the project from unraveling.

When Jesus visited the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth, He read a prophecy from the book of Isaiah that spoke of His own earthly mission: “The Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

Ultimately, centering our lives on Jesus Christ is the only way to create truly sustainable, unified communities. If we want to create a Zion people—people of one heart and one mind—we have to align our mission with His: binding up the broken hearted and freeing those held captive by an endless number of mortal constructs. The Atonement of Jesus Christ can help us right wrongs and heal wounds—even those that have been festering for a long, long time.

The Finished Product

Knitted fabrics are unique among textiles in that they can stretch in any direction and maintain their shape, dimensions, and stretchiness even after several cycles of washing and wearing. They are useful in many applications, comfortable to wear, and naturally more form-fitting than woven fabrics.

Being knit together in unity and love makes our communities more durable when life tests our resolve. It makes conflict less likely, but also allows us to be flexible when conflict does arise. It allows all to feel comfortable, useful, and needed, and it makes it easier to see ourselves for what we are: brothers and sisters with loving Heavenly Parents.

Two senior friends knitting at home
Photo by Jacob Lund (Adobe Stock)

A Little Creativity

One of the most wonderful things about knitting is that anyone can learn to do it. (Personally, I need not look further for proof than my own grandfather, a tough jail guard who learned to knit while laid up after heart surgery and ended up making the most beautiful knitted coats.) All you need are the right tools, a little creativity, and the patience and dedication to see your project to completion. 

Similarly, creating unity is something all of us can do. We already have a variety of tools to help us, and with a little creativity, patience, and dedication, we can overcome divisions with love and understanding, bear each other’s burdens, reclaim those who have been overlooked, realign our behavior with the gospel of Jesus Christ, and build communities that the Lord can use to further His work on the earth. 

How are you building unity in your community? Share your experiences in the comments below!

Jess

If you found this post interesting, please share it! Thanks!

Hearts Knit Together: A Scriptural Object Lesson on Creating Unity
Jess Friedman

Jess Friedman

Jess is a Canadian-American who's always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about strengthening families by empowering women to make space for things that bring them true and lasting joy. You can read more posts by Jess here.
Jess Friedman

Jess Friedman

Jess is a Canadian-American who's always ready for the next adventure. She loves all things living, always has a million creative projects in progress, and polishes her nerd badge daily. She is passionate about strengthening families by empowering women to make space for things that bring them true and lasting joy. You can read more posts by Jess here.

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2 Responses

  1. Thank you, Jess, this is is a lovely post! I plan to share it, too. 🙂 I’m always uplifted, taught, and encouraged when I read your blog. I love you!

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