Thursday, October 1, 2009
Oh... I have been waiting and wanting to write this post for so long.
I've even started it several times, but the words seemed less-than-inspired, so I have backed off, waited, saved many "drafts".
Then two days ago, one of my wonderful friends waved me down in the preschool carline and handed me a book titled, "Pearl Girls: Encountering grit, experiencing grace" by Margaret McSweeney.
I haven't read the book yet (though it promises to be a great one), but the contents of the book weren't even the reason my friend passed it along. She knew that the title and subtitle alone were worth their weight in literary inspiration to me, and so here I am... finally ready to tell you about my little "pearl girl".
Several months ago, I wrote about choosing a name for this child. I told you that I wanted it to be something meaningful, something special, something that defined what God was up to in our lives as He chose to bless us with this addition to our family.
We (ok, I...) poured through baby name books and began making lists. And then I stumbled upon a name that meant, simply: PEARL.
My heartbeat quickened and I drew in a deep breath. Surely this was to be her name. I ran it by my husband, who happened to like the name anyway, so it was decided. We have called her by name ever since.
So, why PEARL? Besides conjuring up an image of someone's 85 year old grandma or high tea at some elite country club, what could possibly mean so much to me about a name that means PEARL?
The seed, as it were, was planted about eight years ago, when I began working for a very well known jewelry company. As my career grew, it became necessary for me to learn in greater detail about the products I was tasked to sell. Our company was known the world over for exquisite jewelry and gemstones... the best of the absolute best... and (besides diamonds) one of our greatest claims to gemstone fame was our offering of pearls.
Each morning, I would slip on pristine white gloves and carefully lay strand after strand of pearl ropes into showcases for the viewing pleasure of hundreds of clients who would be walking by each day to admire their beauty.
Some were "cultured" pearls - smooth, perfectly round, glistening in all shades of white. Some were "natural" pearls - each unique in shape and found in a variety of colors from blush pinks to steely grays.
I loved them all. I decided that while diamonds were typically a girl's best friend... I was going to become a PEARL GIRL. I took product courses, read books, and spent time just staring at and trying on my favorite gemstones.
I learned that pearls were formed when a small, unexpected grain of "something", usually sand or grit, found it's way into an oyster. The oyster, in an effort to shield itself from the uninvited guest, secreted a substance known as "nacre" (pronounced nay' ker). Depending upon the length of time the oyster was left to deal with it's grit, it would secrete layer upon layer upon layer of nacre. The more layers that were introduced, the larger and more irridescent the little ball, or pearl, would grow. Under the right circumstances, the pearl had the opportunity to grow larger and larger, and more and more beautiful, which, in the end, would result in determining it's value.
Now that you've completed Pearls: 101, let's flash forward a few years:
If you know our story,you may recall that my first pregnancy with Drew was an absolute fiasco. I was no good at pregnancy and decided quickly after his birth that one child was enough for us. We didn't want to be disobedient to God's plans for our family, but we absolutely COULD NOT imagine going through another nine months of pregnancy every again. After much prayer and discussion throughout the next four years, we rested in a place of contentment with our little family of three.
And then, we became swept up in the current of excitement created by my brother and his wife's desire to begin their family. It wasn't until weeks after we received the good news that we would be expecting a new niece or nephew that I began to become suspicious of some signs my body seemed to be shouting out at me. I took a pregnancy test and... SURPRISE... found out that we, too, would be adding to our little family.
This was not planned, and I was not excited. I was anxious...scared to death, in fact. I had feelings of guilt for selfishly taking anything away from my brother and sister-in-law's excitement.
So, along with a tiny little human, I was now dealing with a bit of grit in my spiritual life.
But this turn of events, while unexpected to me, was known by God from the beginning of time. And in His infinite grace, He had already set up a system of support and encouragement. He'd been preparing my heart. He'd been in the processing of opening my eyes for quite some time to His ways, which are higher than my ways, and His thoughts that are higher than my thoughts. And at the time, while I couldn't imagine any of the reasons "WHY", I was resting in the knowledge of "WHO". I knew that He was in charge and had something in this that was for His glory.
So, like layer upon layer of nacre, this little person inside me was coated with prayer. I withdrew to Scripture on my sickest days. Friends provided encouragement and accountability on my grumpiest ones. The bond of sharing in the pregnancy process together deepened my friendship with my sister-in-law. And somehow, a pregnancy that was intially met with surprise, fear, and anxiety, has been growing into the lovliest of treasures in my life.
We are less than a month away from her birth now. But unlike a pearl of the sea, my prayer for this little girl is that the nacre of God's grace continues to grow around her long after she's taken out of the warm, comfortable depths of her current home.
She, too, will face grit in her life. There will be times I long to protect her from hurt, from pain, from suffering. But I know if I entrust her now to the faithful love of the Father, He will continue the work of growing her into a beautiful, irridescent pearl. And when she radiates with the glory of God (Oh, I pray that His glory is so evident in her life always), then the world will see the value and treasure that began with the tiniest, most unexpected little seed.
And while I guarantee you I won't be slipping on white gloves any time soon, I cannot wait to study our newest gem... to finally hold this pearl in my own hands!
We love you, little pearl, and we can't wait to meet you soon!