I wear a bruised pearl around my neck that I never take off. It is a constant reminder that no matter what I do, no matter what I’ve done in my past, my Lord, my Savior, my Heavenly Father still believes I’m beautiful.
I bought it at a time when I felt unloved, ugly and unreachable. Isolated in a city full of people, I felt like no one could understand what I was going through. I would stumble through the doors of the church every Sunday, sit in my same little space, head bowed and think, “You don’t get me, you can’t understand, you wouldn’t want to understand.” I pushed people away and the sad thing is it worked.
Even during this dark time, far back in the reaches of my mind I felt the small warmth of the Lord, gently calling, “I still love you, you are loved… you are loved… you are beautiful.”
“Beautiful?!?” I would rage. “I can’t be beautiful?!? After all I’ve done???” I don’t know what it was, but late at night, all alone in my big, empty apartment curled in a ball in my big queen sized bed, I didn’t want to feel safe or warm or special or less alone.. I wanted to feel beautiful.
I remember long long time ago my sister and I used to go to day care. We’re talkin’ Pre K here folks. Mama would get us ready, fix our hair, pull our clothes for the day, pack our lunch and I would pack a special bag for myself. When I got to day care, even at that crazy young age, I would go to the bathroom. Change out of what clothes my Mama put me in. And put on a lil’ mini jean skirt and cowboy boots.
I mean, can you believe??
I pranced around that Pre K playground like I was the stuff. This was wrong on so many levels but I can tell you in my heart of hearts I just wanted to feel beautiful.
Fast forward many years later and there were fights among fights with Mama about what clothes to wear and which ones to definitely not wear and I see how my innocent desire got confused and lost.
Lost in clothes, lost in mascara, lost in boys. Just lost.
My cousin worked at a fancy jewelry store in Dallas and every now and then I would go up there and stand in awe of the bright jewels that I never in a million years will be able to own. I would giggle nervously as she would, with delicate hands, place around my neck a heavy ruby and diamond filled necklace.
I was going through a tough time and we decided to make a necklace for me. We picked out a delicate chain. She said rose gold goes perfect with my skin. What stone should we choose? A pearl. Yes, a perfect little pearl.
She called me up a few weeks later, the pearls had come in, from all the way across the world, fresh water pearls. But there’s a problem.. well, I just gotta come in and see.
I arrived in her office and they were in a little envelope. She said, “I’m so sorry Ellie, they’re so messed up, I had no idea. In this shape, we consider them worthless. You can just have them for free, I mean… if you still want them. I think they’re pretty…” she added.
I looked at them, one with sharp jagged edges, one mangled with a hole and one oblong, rough around the edges with a dull shine. I picked up the last one. Held it in my hand. “I love it,” I said, “I’ll take it.”
I took that messed up pearl. The one that was considered worthless. The one that traveled half way around the world crushed up in an envelope and I put in on a delicate rose gold chain and I never take it off.
When I get caught thinking about my past, how I’ve royally messed things up, pushed others away, searched for beauty in unhealthy ways, hurt others, the list goes on and on, I touch my finger tips to my pearl and hear the soft voice of the Lord, “I still love you… I love you… you are forgiven… you are beautiful…”
“Fear not, for you will not be put to shame; And do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; But you will forget the shame of your youth…” Isaiah 54:4