You're Already Amazing: Wearing Pearls Well

I read the maxim while cancer raged: Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; it's about learning to dance in the rain (Tiffany Wilson, who spoke in 2007 at the It's My Life foster care conference). As I read the Psalms, this sentiment was echoed again and again in the rejoicing suffering servant's poetry, most eloquently in one of my favorite Psalms, 46, at the end of which David exhorts us to be still and know that He is God

The other day, it rained in it's soft April way all day long. The flowers were coated with raindrops. As I sat in my swing looking out at the glory of it all, I noticed the very ordinary chives growing in my kitchen garden, made extraordinarily beautiful by the pearls God had placed on each spear with his laws of gravity and physics. Each water molecule is positively charged on one end, and negatively charged on the other, so opposites attract like the latch and hook of train cars, forming strings of drops, each growing larger until it is heavy enough to drop to the earth. 

As I prepared for my dissertation, I tried to pull my post-baby belly into a pair of, well, let's just call them iron shorts. I am a large raindrop. I am glued to the earth by the gravity of too much weight, and it is a source of embarrassment for me. Holley Gerth addresses this in her book:
Inside a voice whispers, you're not enough. Depending on the day, an extra word might be thrown into the sentence. You're not pretty enough. You're not outgoing enough. You're not likable enough.
I felt all of these things that day. Would they like me enough to let me pass? Was I outgoing enough to slog through a 30 minute presentation about my own work? (I didn't even wonder about pretty. I was so sure it wasn't true.) Once I stepped into the room where I would give my presentation, I was even more embarrassed by a comment made during my introduction to the small group gathered there. My mentor said I had stuck with my studies through "thick, and thick, and thick". I immediately felt my cheeks burn, and I wanted to jump up and explain I had just been following God as best I could! Receiving this compliment seemed so false. But Gerth refutes this in her book, drawing us in to a private conversation she had with God during her exasperated and exhausted prayer. The truth is, this compliment was just telling me that others could see God at work in my life. I didn't need to explain myself, because others have already seen faith at work.
"Lord," I asked, "why do women feel as if we're not enough?" It seemed I heard a whisper in response, "Because they're not." For a moment I thought I had some holy static happening. "Excuse me, God, it sounded like you said we're not enough. Could you repeat that, pretty please?" Again, gently and firmly, "You are not enough." By then I started thinking perhaps my heart had dialed the wrong number and the devil was on the line. But in that pause it seemed God finished the sentence: "You are not me you are so much more." We are much more than pretty...we are wonderfully made. We are much more than likable...we are deeply loved. We are much more than okay...we are daughters of the King. I think the enemy tricks us into believing we are not enough because he knows that if we discover the truth, we'll be unstoppable.

If you're in the rain storms of life, wear your pearls with a confident heart. Gerth asks us to go beyond Eve's sin, and uncover the other lies that slow us down and destroy our joy in the Lord. What if we said "Yes, God really did say I can do all thing through Christ" (Phil. 4:13). "Yes, God really did say he loves me with an everlasting love." (Jer. 3:13) "Yes, God really did say I am fearfully and wonderfully made." (Ps. 139:14) Everything could change forever (Gerth, p. 42). If you're like me, one of the lies that brings you down is the concern that being confident means you are prideful and selfish. But Gerth points out that insecurity is just a tool to turn us inward - away from God and the truth of our position in Christ. We focus on ourselves, our looks, our housekeeping ability, whether or not we're fully using our talents. Holley says that being confident allows us to "stop looking inward and instead focus upward and outward on Him as well as others." (p. 51)
Another truth leaps off the raindrops. Later that day, the sunshine warmed the earth, and the chives were quickly dried in the breeze. Even dry, with no pearl necklace, the chives are beautiful.

This was a good reminder for me. I think those of us who have faced suffering and trials can become addicted to walking that path. It is hard to bring yourself to look up and enjoy the sunshine. It is hard to shed the pearls of the rainstorm. It is hard because it is scary. As difficult as it is to trust God during the rainstorm, it can be even more difficult to trust that the sunshine is meant for you, that it will last more than a brief moment. You are braced for the next trial to sweep you off your feet. But as I continue into remission, into dissertation success, I've got to shed my survival mode thinking. The path stretches long and dappled with sun in front of me. I need to look up and trust I'm not going to be lashed with the cold wind and the sudden rain. If I live the rest of my life expecting to suffer, I will miss out on so much.
Out of all of history, God chose this time for you to be on earth. He knew the exact second you would enter this world with a cry and change it forever. In between the laundry, the mundane parts of being human, we can forget we're part of a bigger story, a greater plan. And here's the thing: we only get one you. There never has been, and never will be, another you in this world. God doesn't have a backup plan or replacement policy. We don't need a copy of someone else - we need the one and only, original you. How do we live in this place, suspended between history and eternity? How do we find the courage to offer who we are in the middle of the mess? ...He is the I AM. We find God not in the future or in the past. We find Him right here with us, beside us, in us. The temptation will always be to say, "After I...." or "When this happens, then I'll...", but life doesn't work that way. Embrace this moment. Be who you are. (Gerth, p. 180-181; emphasis mine)
Take hold of the fortitude and insight to thrive in whatever season God has you. If you are in the rain, wear your pearls - don't hide them! And find hope in the fact that the sunshine always comes, sooner or later. If you're in the sun, don't be ashamed to be happy dancing in the gentle breeze! Don't wear a false garment of shame, don't let yourself be trapped in thinking this is just a moment before the next storm. God has given you this moment. Be yourself here, today. Because He can't wait to see you dancing - in your rain boots and slicker, or your shorts and tank top!

Back in the beginning of March, I was invited to review Holley Gerth's new book, You're Already Amazing. Life intervened, and although I read the book immediately, I'm just now getting to the writing of the review. This is part 2 of a 3 part series on this simply beautiful book about our position in Christ. (Read part 1 below)