I have always been a girly-girl. I love things that sparkle, things that are smooth, silky and catch the eye. I love earrings, necklaces and hair bows alike (which turned out to be a good thing growing up in the 80’s.) But alas I was never very good at keeping my sparkly earrings, necklaces and hair bows from harm’s way. You see I was often referred to as the absent-minded professor. I was skilled at many things, but keeping my world neat and tidy was my Achilles’ heal.
Often I would go to don my favorite add-a-bead necklace only to find it was a jumbled wad of metal and dented spheres. Not a pretty sight, but I knew how beautiful my necklace had been and something in me enjoyed the challenge of restoring this twisted accessory back to its former glory. What I enjoyed most was looking at the mangled mess and seeing that if I slowly and painstakingly pulled, separated and gently smoothed each strand, eventually it would begin to make sense again. I learned the hard way if I pulled too hard, the links would either break or forever be bound so tight they would never go back to beauty. So instead, I gingerly moved one piece, followed by another. I turned it in multiple directions so I could see what connections I might be missing until finally the answer just sort of slowly emerged. Hhhh…. Great sighs of relief when at last the clump of gold looked like something rather resembling a necklace again.
“Wahlah!” I finished! Off to the spring dance I went to “Wake me up before I go go..” with my lovely jewelry in tact – that is until that night when in all my excitement, I crumbled it again into a drawer until next time.
One Monday morning nearly 30 years later, I remembered how much I loved rescuing my knotty necklaces. I was getting ready for the day, a day I had repeated for what felt like a thousand times by this point. For quite sometime now I had put away sparkly things. I either convinced myself I didn’t have time or couldn’t see the point anymore of bothering to dress up. For whatever reason, that day seemed a little brighter, and I looked for a way to add sparkle to my day. There it was, my gnarly mess of a necklace. As I gently began the regimen I had employed time and time again, I heard a voice.
In His infinite kindness and wisdom, the Lord spoke in His daddy voice to me in that most ordinary of moments. “Look and Remember.” He had watched me put away such pretty things in the hurry and stress of caring for an elderly father until he passed away, all while raising two small girls. He watched as our oldest daughter was diagnosed. We drove hither and yon looking for a “cure.” This was one of the days we drove three hours for 20 minutes of therapy. We repeated this journey two more times that week and started all over again the next several Monday mornings for months to come. Day after day, driving, fighting, striving to save her became our only priority. While her disorder was not life threatening, it was life altering. We watched as she went from the sweetest, most thoughtful of children to angry, miserable and sometimes violent. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde days were excruciating for us and for her. It seemed unfathomable that being “on the spectrum” could really be what God had prescribed for our family. But here we were.
And on that day, unlike all the other days before it, getting dressed for her was not a battle. Things had begun to not feel so scratchy, so loud, so stinking awful. We started to see smiles again, occasional laughter and connection. Something in her was slowly, with God’s great healing, emerging again. And as I reached for my necklace, I heard Him say again, “Look and Remember.” I slowed down enough to pay attention, and I was struck with the similarities of my circumstances. There I was again untangling a knotty mess that required the same amount of patience, endurance and belief that there would be restoration and beauty in the end.
In His loving kindness, the Lord used my love of rescuing knotty necklaces to remind and encourage me, that this “knotty mess of a situation” with my daughter needed a gentle hand. It needed patience. It needed long-suffering vision. It needed to be turned on its side and seen from all angles. It didn’t need to be pulled and yanked or given up on. It was delicate. She was delicate, even in her rages. Her heart needed protecting and a mother’s hand to unravel the mystery.
If all those years ago I had determined not to give up on cheap necklaces, how much more worthy was my daughter’s heart and sanity. She deserved every long and arduous mile I drove. She deserved every crazy food I dared to cook. She deserved every wacky therapy that might prove our last. She deserved me to fight for her. She was worthy of untangling, and I had the training to do it – one strand at a time.
I am so grateful for the encouragement granted that day. There were so many days that it all seemed so futile – gluten free this, sugar free that – stand on one leg and jump around – cross the midline – don’t react to the reactions – and on and on it went. But just as with those necklaces, one by one, the strands loosened and years and thousands of miles later, there was freedom.
Our girl didn’t just wake up one day healed. She didn’t just grow out of it as so many assume now when they see her sparkling beauty. She emerged slowly from a tangled mess, and we were blessed enough to be the ones to unfold the mystery one strand at a time. It would have been easy to give up and throw away the necklaces just as it would have been easier, I suppose, to have thrown in the towel on my daughter’s healing. But when I watch her now, preparing for college, cheering at football games, singing in choirs, ministering to others, I am reminded of the knotty, holy mess made whole by Him.
She is more beautiful than any necklace and worth more than gold. He not only makes beauty from ashes, he makes sparkles from knots.
– guest post by Denise