My life is filled with various stir points. You know them too, I’m sure.
Stir points are those times when stuff from the past you thought you’d dealt with… successfully… has been somehow activated and brought to the front of your mind to deal with once again. Stir points have dates and times. They are usually emotional and always uncomfortable.
Here is an example of one stir point: My mother thinks I need to have high end jewelry. Almost every visit she will give me things she wants to get rid of … “after all, they’re better than anything you have,” Well. that’s what I hear her saying anyway. She gives me gifts like grandma’s pearls that my sister doesn’t want because they were redone with beads that shed their fake luster over her clothes. Another time she felt so guilty about my not having anything of “value” that she decided to gift me with her relational trash — a ring redone using gem stones from a series of cast aside lovers and husbands.
I still have these but I never wear them because the ring makes me feel yucky just looking at it and I restrung the pearls ditching the flaky beads for stones I enjoy. Ya know I don’t like flakes on my clothes either. Somehow these gifts always remind me of the negative sides of the original presentation. (I think maybe I should flip them into something else entirely.)
Other stir points can be holidays. Valentines day might be one of yours. Mother’s day is one of mine. Every mother’s day I deal with the emotional abandonment that is foundational to my relationship with my own mother although that one is getting better since the LORD and I had a talk about ostriches. Every September I deal with harvest as a grief issue because it was at this time of year that a series of funerals popped into my life and feelings surrounding the dearly departed were… ahem… dealt with … years ago as a matter of God’s bringing home a harvest of souls around me.
This last trip to Texas was a a stir point.
We were there to visit with my husband’s mother and various people from her side of the family. It is our custom when traveling to attend the congregation of our host or to find an assembly of believers with whom to celebrate God’s marvelous wonders. We went to church with Mom, her husband, my husband’s sister, her kids and the cousins. The service and the people were wonderful but I had a carnal moment. I was looking at ladies hands; in particular my eyes would focus on their diamonds.
Looking down at my hand I caught myself talking to the LORD…whining actually. But I don’t have diamonds on my hand. I feel so poor. Worthless…
It’s embarrassing. I had ring issues and God was listening.
My first band broke on a door knob. It was not wearable so it was replaced by another simple band. Then I decided that I was a silver girl and that ring was replaced by a silver band. My discontent ate energy.
So one day Steve took me to a pawn shop and I found a glorious set with diamonds set in silver that I really loved. I was almost going to give him the green light to get it. Then I read the inscription on the inside of the band. It said something about loving her forever. It was in a PAWN shop! Nope. This reminder of love gone wrong will NEVER be worn on MY hand. We went home.
I was cured. My simple yellow gold band will be here on my wedding finger forever. It has never been caught on anything. I can do anything without worrying about it. I can wear it every day. Simple gold rings are amazingly practical.
Seriously, I’d already dealt with all this diamond business. I was at peace with my simple gold band. I was at peace until I went to evening church one Sunday long before our Texas trip.
The guest speaker and his wife were motorcycle missionaries. They were sitting right in front of me and the light caught her rather large diamond wedding set bringing it swiftly to my attention.
Oh LORD, I sighed, If this lady from the biker culture can have a diamond set, why can’t I?! She probably isn’t rich. Why do I have to be poor and look poor? Everyone knows that the women here are more friendly to women with diamonds.
Into my juvenile complaint God spoke. Christine, YOU are the diamond.
Oh. OK. That makes perfect sense. Diamonds are carbon under pressure brought to light, cut and set. I can see my life of trial, abandonment, and belonging with all the challenges those things put in my path today in terms of my life as a diamond. Please help me to be a beautiful brilliant diamond for your glory Amen.
I went on my merry way with my plain gold band trying to be a good diamond. I hadn’t had these trouble making thoughts for a very long time…years… decades even. Then one recent Sunday morning they descended on me with tear squeezing force in a well cushioned country Baptist pew.
What were these women wearing? I wonder what their lives must be like? Do they have lots of friends because they have lots of diamonds?
That feeling of worthlessness because of jewelry choices is so repugnant its almost evil. I dismissed these thoughts but God was listening.
We went back to my mother-in-law’s for Sunday supper. After everyone had their fill of chicken spaghetti, dishes were cleared and the rest of the family had dispersed, I sat down quietly to resume knitting a pair of socks for my daughter.
All of a sudden Mom pops out of her recliner, “Come here, I have something for you.”
She brought me into her bedroom and went into her closet. She returned telling me a story while holding out to me a ring with gorgeous diamonds.
“These are Jack’s diamonds.” (her husband number two and father of the man I love) “I didn’t know what I should do with them. Should I give them back? Should I keep them? Well, I ended up having them set into a different ring. Joe and I were talking about this.” (current husband whom she loves). Mom looked down at her present wedding set adoringly. “He wants his daughter to get these when I die. I thought these,” She spoke to the band she was holding out to me, “should be Christine’s. You have been such a good wife to Steve.” Thoughtfully she placed the diamond ring on the ring finger of my right hand.
We said together, “It fits!!”
My own mother’s ring gift was a jewelry cleansing that made me feel trashy. The feeling this one gave surprised me. I knew my mother-in-law was symbolically getting rid of her old relationship but in spite of that it made me feel so special.
I wore it the rest of the day and my man didn’t notice until he went to hold my hand later that evening and it kinda got in the way. “What’s this?!”
“You can tell him later, ” Mom instructed. That was fine with me. I was proud to wear it but I had already made an agreement with myself that I would try not to do or say anything that would purposely draw attention to it.
Having these diamonds stirred up a lot more thoughts in my mind. How do people take care of these things? Should I have it insured? What if it breaks? What if it falls off? How do I clean it? Well, It’s not a design I would pick…. Boy do they sparkle!
These too are embarrassing thoughts and God was still listening. God took care of the design because that was chosen by some random jeweler. Several stones above a swirl of gold. As I looked down on it pondering why anyone would ever choose such a configuration, a quiet voice in my head spoke into my heart.
Do you see the swirl?
Yes. I see it. Even the diamonds are set as if they are twirling in a dance around the center stone.
Doesn’t that swirl look like the paddle wine is stirred with?
Haven’t I stirred you up?
Yes. You stirred these ring issues up again, and again. Ahh, I get it! This ring is “THE STIR POINT!”
Yes. That is how you shall remember my work in you. I have stirred up your memories. I have changed you by this stirring into a beautiful treasure. You are my diamond.
But now when I wear it – and I shall because I never want to take it off — How will I outshine this earth bound treasure? These diamonds are so distracting.
The sun outshines diamonds.
It does. So I can? Hmmm.
This is how you outshine a diamond
14 Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[a]against God] and [b]questioning and doubting [among yourselves],
15 That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world,
16 Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose. Philippians 2:14-16 (AMPC)
Thank you Father for the stir points of life and this diamond stir point. I love you too.
Oh, by the way. The pastor spoke on spiritual maturity that Sunday in Texas. I was impressed that maturity takes practice that is every bit as difficult and as transforming as physical exercise. I’m convinced that not complaining or arguing about things in life is the Crossfit of spiritual fitness. It is not casual. It is intentional, team oriented, progressive and intimidating at first. Come to think of it, diamonds are that way too; force upon force, buried, transformed, chiseled, refined, one element reflecting all the rest.
Go Team Jesus! I’ll pray for you. You pray for me. Deal?