I have always been fascinated by the way a pearl is formed. How does one small piece of irritant or foreign entity enter an oyster and turn into something so beautiful? Normally irritants don’t cause anything beautiful, do they?
In my life I have often seen people who become something beautiful under extremely difficult situations. I have also seen friends who under extreme pressure break, blame God, and become something else entirely.
For my parable of the pearl I want to give two examples of extreme pressure and extreme results.
I have a dear friend of mine whom, in my opinion should write a book about her life. She has the ability to look at extreme situations from the past and almost chuckle at how soap-opera-ish her life has been. Without giving too many specifics that wouldn’t be mine to share, let’s just say if anyone has the right to blame anything bad that happened in her life on others, she can. Her childhood was one of disappointment, tragedy and abuse. Her adult life too has been nothing short of novel worthy. She has been cheated on, abandoned, and emotionally abused by those who should have loved her the most. Along every step of the way she has kept her faith in God and His grace. She has been able to realize that life sometimes “just happens” and God is still, and always will be in her corner. She doesn’t blame others from her past and now has a present that was in every way worth fighting for. I adore and admire this woman for her tenacity and faith even in the presence of tragedy.
Friend number two who will also remain unnamed had a very similar childhood beginning, but sadly has had quite a different outcome. She was raised in a broken home in the outskirts of Nevada with an abusive father who physically and sexually abused her and her sister. She has struggled with the ability to connect to others and share love and trust with her family. For years she and I would sit on my couch and discuss forgiveness, trust and the peace that can come only come from God. It felt from time to time that we had made some headway. She and her husband and their children were doing well. She would try to be more open and communicative with him about her feelings and her baggage from the past, but one day she decided it was not worth the fight.
I will never forget watching her change. Over a matter of months my friend stopped trying. She decided that she couldn’t let go of her past and the abuse that was lurking there. She decided to stay living in that past and let it consume her. She took the irritant that could have created a pearl and decided to let it eat her from the inside out. She left her beautiful family in heartache and despair, and went looking for something outside of herself to heal what was broken on the inside.
So it is with an oyster. Those who undergo the process of creating a pearl take the ulcer like substance that irritates and hurts and put a protective coating around it, again and again; creating a barrier between them and the painful entity. We too can take the irritants and major trials in our lives and implement the use of a protective coating. This coating begins with constant and personal prayer. We ask God again and again to protect us, to help us, to heal us. We may not feel the change occurring instantaneously, it may take days, weeks, or even years to come, but it always comes. He will always heal us. The old saying that “nothing lasts forever,” is absolutely true. The pain from the past can be dulled until it is merely a memory that we see through rose colored glasses, and we recognize the peace we have earned because we endured to the end. We become a pearl, one painful experience at a time. Or we can choose to give up, and allow ourselves to be eaten from the inside out. We can take the pain from our past and let it consume us and steal our eternal identity as precious pearls of great price.
What will we allow our trials to create in us? An empty shell or a pearl of great price?