As a girl, I am such a jewelry nut. I haven't gone overboard with that by any means, but I have an appreciation for the beautiful and sparkly things of life! It's a girl thing. I remember when my niece was a baby, sitting on my mom's lap, being highly fascinated with my mom's tennis bracelet. Mom and I looked at each other and said, "the Force is strong with her." As in, she's definitely girlie. My seven-month-old daughter is equally fascinated with sparkly or jingly treasures that dangle from wrists, necks, or ears. She's very girlie, too. I'm girlie. When we pass a jewelry store, I usually have a little catch of my breath as we see the various displays in the window. But as I said, I don't go overboard with it. More looking than touching for me!
Jewels are mentioned in the scriptures, including a passage in Malachi: “And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:17)
In my jewelry box are three especially beloved pieces. One is the diamond ring that my husband gave me when we were engaged (if you read an earlier post, yes, this is the one that I had lost but thankfully found). Another is a pearl necklace that my husband gave me for Christmas a few years ago. Another is a sterling silver necklace with a pendant in the sculpted shape of two parents and a child, which was a gift from our son’s birth mother.
Diamonds begin as simple carbon material. But once that carbon is subjected to extreme pressure and heat over a long period of time, it is transformed into a diamond of significant value. The pressure, heat, and time are necessary components of the transformation process. Otherwise the carbon just remains a worthless piece of carbon. I guess it's good that I don't have to be a content but worthless piece of carbon lying around all my life. Diamonds are a girl's best friend! Diamonds are forever! If I can endure heat and pressure with patience, maybe I can become something brilliant someday.
A pearl begins as a tiny grain of sand (or some other irritant) trapped in an oyster. Once again, a jewel emerges from the process of endurance. If the oyster cannot or will not expel the irritant, it instead makes something beautiful out of the experience.
I have personally made it a matter of prayerful consideration about the "uses" I can (and should) make of my present adversity. Beautiful things have already started to emerge for me. Generous outpourings of love from family and friends, and opportunties to express my love and gratitude back to them. Great opportunities to reflect upon how blessed my life has always been. Sacred experiences as I have spent more time in scripture study and prayer.
Silver is refined in a fiery furnace. There's a story that I read in one of those "please pass along to everyone you know" inspirational emails that I received long ago, about some Bible study ladies who met and discussed the phrase: "And He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver." (Malachi 3:3) One lady visited a silversmith and asked him to tell her about the process of refining silver. After he had fully described it to her, she asked, "But, sir, do you sit while the work of refining is going on?" "Oh, yes, madam." replied the silversmith. "I must sit with my eye steadily fixed on the furnace, for if the time necessary for refining be exceeded in the slightest degree, the silver will be injured." Before she left, the lady asked one final question, " When do you know the process is complete? "Why that is quite simple," replied the silversmith. "When I can see my own image in the silver, the refining process is finished."
Lately, I have come to appreciate the refining opportunities in my present situation. I guess anytime adversity is at the point when you are staring down the barrel of mortality, it can be a make-or-break time. I choose "make". Cancer is a fiery form of adversity. When I consider the magnitude of the potential of glioblastoma (not only death, but a devastating and heartbreaking decline into that death), it gets really tough. And yet in this furnace of affliction I am noticing how small imperfections are starting to break loose. Opportunities to make myself more of what I can and should be. And when I think about the silversmith watching carefully while the silver is refining in the furnace, I think of my own Heavenly Father watching over me to make sure I am not "damaged" in this process (regardless of whether my body survives or not). I remember the Biblical story of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abed-nego, who were thrown into a furnace, yet survived. Those who witnessed the experience noted that a fourth person was in the furnace with them - someone who looked like the Son of God. He was there to help them in their hour of greatest affliction. Another story, in the Book of Mormon, tells of righteous people who were persecuted and burned to death for not denying their beliefs. In their case, they were not delivered out of the torturing, deadly fire, but they were surely "saved" in a higher way. They were still being watched over.
Diamonds, pearls, and silver. Treasured pieces in my jewelry box. Symbols of endurance. Reminders that the Lord will “make up his jewels”. He will watch carefully over the processes that are necessary to help me realize my greatest potential. And I am just really, really hoping that I can someday emerge from this with the ability to reflect back His image in my countenance.