My father bought it for her after one of the hardest years of her life, when she was struggling with feeling rejected and unheard after years of service.
The pearl ring was worn on her finger and she would whisper the story sometimes, if you caught her in the right mood. “There are many times in life when you’re handed something that is harsh on every side. It scrapes and scratches. Just like a piece of sand in an oyster shell. But, as Christ followers, we get the choice of what we’re going to do with this harsh-piece. We can fight it, or we can allow God to transform the difficulty into a jewel.”
In Scripture, we’re told of the pearl of great price. The one the man saw, and sold everything he had to purchase. (Matthew 13:45-46)
When my mama gave me her pearl ring, on my 22nd birthday, she wrote the words on a piece of paper tucked inside the ring box. “Give everything, Tashie-girl, for the Kingdom.”
In other words, “Give everything on earth, as you reach for everything that is of Christ.”
Don’t give up when you’re trapped on every side by life’s harshness. Don’t give up when it hurts. Don’t give up when your heart is being scraped raw.
Make pearls instead.
This year I thought one of my greatest desires was going to come true. God had already given us so much, in the arrival of our daughter, but then it looked like He was giving us even more.
We were contacted by a birth mom who desired us to adopt her unborn child. I could hardly believe it.
Month after month passed. I went to doctor’s visits. I spent hours with this girl, trying to love her as she struggled to make good choices. At one point we were afraid she was losing the baby, but alas, after a three-day hospital stay, we went home and the little one kept growing.
Slowly, over time, I started to believe it was really going to happen. I touched ultrasound pictures on my fridge door. My baby’s ultrasound pictures. I was there when the tech told us it was a girl. Another girl. Glory.
Lizzie was looking forward to seeing her little sister. We started collecting baby things.
And then she came. Eleven weeks early. So, so tiny. Under three pounds.
We named her Brianna Cherié. Our little Annie. Brianna means strength. And we prayed strength into her. Cherié means beloved. And how we loved that tiny little girl.
I sat by her in the NICU and believed, with everything in me, that God would do a miracle. After all, this entire experience was a miracle!
Annie died when she was 12 days old. Before the adoption papers could be signed. Before we could say that she was really ours. She almost-was and then she was gone.
The agony scraped at us from every side.
And here’s the truth: it still does.
I struggle to see the redemption of this. I, who wrote a book about God redeeming pain, struggle every day to believe that He can redeem this.
But today I picked up the mail and found a package with my name on it. I opened it and there was a necklace. May you be reminded of Jesus’ vast love for you. It wasn’t signed. Just, “from all of us”. Love and a pearl.
And I’m reminded, again, that knowing Christ is what forms the beauty around agony. His Kingdom is what I give up everything else for. Not for safety or for freedom from pain, but for Him. The God who holds my hand and walks with me through the darkest of nights. The God who goes before me. The God who loves.
Even this. I cry as I say it, but I say it: Even this is worth it.
I search for Mama’s ring and slide it on my finger. I hang the necklace on my neck.
I give up everything on earth, and reach for everything that is of Christ. For only there, in Him, will my agony be made beautiful.