A String of Pearls – It’s a Southern Thing!

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My fascination with pearls began in 2001 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My wonderful surgeon, Dr. Simpson, a lovely young woman, was wearing a strand of pearls when I first met her in her office to talk to her about a tender place in my left breast. After discovering that the offender and source of my discomfort was breast cancer, I placed my present and my future into her capable and expert hands as we headed down the road to survival together.

Her pearls made a distinct impression on me. I remember seeing her prior to my lumpectomy as I was being prepared to go into surgery. The pearls graced her neckline underneath her scrubs. I assumed that she wore them in the operating room, but that is something that I guess I’ll never know. On every subsequent visit to see her following my surgery and for several years afterward, she always had on her string of pearls. To me, they were her trademark, and a visible sign of the wonderful doctor that she was.

I wanted some pearls for myself. After recovering from my breast surgery, I saved my money, and when I thought I had enough, I visited a local jewelry store to see what I could find. As it turned out, the store was going out of business, and everything was 50% off. I saw the pearls that I wanted, and with the sale price, I could afford them. They went home with me that day.

I treasured my string of pearls. I wore them on special occasions, always so very careful to take care of them and place them back into their velvet-lined box when I took them off. I didn’t have much in the way of expensive jewelry at the time, so they became exactly what they were to me, a treasure.

Over the years, I wore them less and less. When I was divorced six years ago, I made sure that they were safely in my possession in a little portable safe that held my keepsakes and important papers. I hardly thought about them once the divorce was final and I was off on my own, rebuilding my life and concentrating on other matters.

Then, this morning in a weekly sharing and prayer group that I am a member of, I opened up to my friends my feelings of being off-center, not on solid ground emotionally and spiritually, and feeling the need to be better grounded in my life and in my faith. The past few months, following my 70th birthday, I have felt off-balance and unstable in many aspects of my life. The ladies in my group all offered bits of advice which I accepted and appreciated. One, however, said something that hit home with me.

“You need to put on that smile, some bright lipstick, a string of pearls, and get out there,” she said. “It’s a southern thing, you know,” she added with an exaggerated southern drawl.

“Well, I’m not sure about the lipstick, but I can surely smile. And I have a gorgeous string of pearls that I can put on,” I replied. “I think that’s exactly what I’m going to do.”

I went home from the meeting, pulled out my safe and opened it, taking out the little jewelry box with the pearls inside. As I dressed for work, I clasped the string of pearls around my neck, and with a smile, admired myself in my mirror. I may be 70 years old, but I have my smile and my pearls. What more do I need today? Nothing! I was ready to go to work!

It was amazing how that little string of pearls lifted my spirits and brightened my outlook on my life today.

I think they are going to become part of my life from now on instead of returning to their place in my safe. My pearls need to go out into the world with me as we venture into the realm of being 70 and beyond.

I wonder how they will look with my Star Wars T-shirt and blue jeans!

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Does God Need an Invitation?

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Every now and then I run upon something on Facebook that causes me to back up and take another look. The following, with the name edited out, was posted this morning, finding its way somehow to my Facebook Timeline.

“I’ve invited God over to my house to spend the day. Today will be a continuous day of prayers. My son’s brain surgery is this morning. I know all our family and friends have [my son] in their prayers.”

I wonder if anyone else thinks this is an odd statement. While it received a long list of comments of “Praying”, and other similar comments and statements of love and support from this person’s Facebook friends, I couldn’t just let it go without further thought and a comment on my blog.

I didn’t know the history of this beloved son’s brain problem. Is it a tumor that has been growing for some length of time? Is it an aneurism which requires immediate attention? Is it something malignant? Or benign? As I delved deeper into Facebook, I learned that this young man has cancer, so these questions were answered for me, after quite a few clicks into other people’s posts and timelines.

Now my questions are, “Where was God yesterday? Why was God only invited into the house today to spend the day? Why did God need to be invited in the first place? Will this person still need God tomorrow? Will God be asked to leave if things don’t go well?

I am sure that many prayers have found their way to God concerning this young man and his cancer. And I’m sure the parent who posted this has prayed many, many prayers for the health of her son. I feel confident that her home is filled today with prayers and petitions for her son’s recovery. What puzzles me is the phrasing of her Facebook post.

I don’t want to sound judgmental – I would be asking for prayers for my son should he ever face something like this in his life. My Facebook friend had her own way of letting her friends know of her need for support and prayers, and I know that God is listening and answering those prayers.

The statement did make me stop to think, however, about my own spirituality and beliefs about God. My knee jerk response upon reading this post – to myself, of course – was, why just for today? And why did God need an invitation? For me, God doesn’t need to be invited to my home. God IS my home, and God has invited ME to be part of God’s great home. I believe that God is with me in every breath that I take, wherever I am and wherever I go. Everyday. Not just when I need something from God. Not when something bad happens. Not only for today, but also for every minute of my life. God is as close to me as my own heartbeat.

I thank God for being there with – and guiding the hands of – the surgeons operating on this young man today, for being with the nursing staff that will be monitoring him as he begins the recovery process. I also thank God for the faith and strength of the parents, relatives, and friends. Most importantly, I thank God that an invitation isn’t necessary. God is with us even before we ever put out an invitation.

Always.