One Christmas when my mother was a girl, she received a string of pearls from her father. Since her parents were divorced-an unusual situation in the 1950s-she treasured the pearls as a sign of her father’s love. When he passed away her senior year in high school, the pearls took on even greater significance.
When I was growing up, my mother talked often about the pearls, but my sister and I never saw them. Mom kept them safe in their silk-lined velvet box tucked in her jewelry box. For dressy occasions, she wore other nice jewelry, but never the pearls.
The pearls were too precious to wear.
What if the strand broke and even a single pearl was lost? What if the clasp broke and she lost them forever? She couldn’t risk it. Better to keep them cocooned in silky security.
When my mother offered to let me wear her pearls on my wedding day, I was deeply touched. This was more than “something old” or “something borrowed,” but a sign that she trusted me and loved me.
A few days before the wedding, my mother pulled the box from seclusion. My sister and I watched with curiosity and awe.
The pearls had turned a deep grayish-yellow, they were flaking, and some had fallen apart.
They were fake.
For over thirty years, my mother nurtured a piece of costume jewelry. All that time she could have worn them and enjoyed them without worry. Her father gave them to her for a purpose-to wear them and feel lovely and ladylike and special. He didn’t mean for her to hide them away.
On our wedding day, my husband gave me a strand of real pearls. They symbolize my husband’s sacrificial love for me-they were expensive for a graduate student with half-Scottish blood.
I vowed never to tuck them away but to wear them often. Yes, I’m careful. I inspect the cord and knots and clasp, and I plan to have them restrung when necessary. But I wear them and enjoy them. That’s why my husband gave them to me.
Our heavenly Father gives us gifts too-brilliant and costly. We should cherish them, but we should use them. Whether our individual gifts involve serving, teaching, encouragement, evangelism, or even money-they have a purpose. The Lord wants us to use our gifts to bless others and to spread the message of His love.
While pearls make women look lovely, using our God-given gifts for His kingdom makes us even lovelier. And just as pearls grow more lustrous with frequent wear, our gifts from God grow in beauty and strength the more we use them.
This Christmas I plan to wear my string of pearls, a sign of my husband’s love-and to display my pearls from heaven, a sign of my Father’s love.
Have a lustrous Christmas!
Sarah Sundin lives in northern California with her husband and three children. She works on-call as a hospital pharmacist. Her first novel, A Distant Melody, historical fiction set during World War II, will be published by Revell in March 2010. Please visit her at https://www.sarahsundin.com; or her blog or find her on Facebook.