I have heard the story, and told it many times, of a little girl who had a toy pearl necklace. These plastic pearls were her most treasured possession. She wore them everyday and even slept in them. They made her feel like a princess.
One night, as her daddy was tucking her into bed, e asked her this question, “Honey, do you love me?”
The little girl replied, “Oh daddy, of course I love you?”
“Will you give me your plastic pearls?” the father then asked.
She got a horrified look on her face and covered her plastic pearls with her hand. “But daddy, these are my greatest treasure! I can’t give them to you.”
“It’s ok,” her father assured her. “You don’t have to. I know you love me and I’ll always love you.” He kissed her goodnight and left the room.
The father repeated this request for the next several nights, all with the same response from his daughter. Finally, one night, when he entered her room, she was sitting on the edge of her bed with both fists holding something tightly. The little girl had tears streaming down her cheeks, and she looked up at her daddy, saying, “Daddy, I really do love you, and I am going to give you my pearls.” With that, she held out her open hands with the plastic pearls inside. The father gently took the pearls and put them in his pocket. Then, he reached into his back pocket and took out a beautiful real pearl necklace and put them around his daughter’s neck.
This story is a wonderful illustration of how God wants to give us the real treasure He has for us if we will only give up our worthless “plastic” treasures of this world.
This past summer (2008), I had the privilege of going to youth camp as a cook. It was a wonderful week of serving and loving on the kids. But by Thursday evening, the lack of sleep, little time alone with God, and Lauren not being there, caught up with me and I had a meltdown. I could not pull myself together enough to sit with others at the tabernacle for the evening service. So, I stood outside under the trees around the open-air tabernacle, and cried out to God. I was hurting and needed to feel His arms around me as tangibly as possible. I begged God to come, and then as the speaker, Zane Black, began to speak, I came and sat at the back to listen. I was still upset and almost dared God to speak to me.
At the end of his talk, Zane began to tell a story. “There was a little girl with a pink plastic pearl necklace….” I immediately recognized the story, but thought, “Why pink plastic pearls?” As Zane finished the story, I knew God was speaking to me about my own pink plastic pearls, but I didn’t want to deal with it at the time. I participated in the final activity of the evening, and went to bed.
The next morning, I sat alone with my journal and began to write about pink plastic pearls. I determined what my pink plastic pearls were: the past and the fear to move forward. I didn’t want to move forward because I was afraid to leave Lauren behind. I didn’t want to heal because I somehow thought I would have to give up her importance, her presence in my life. I told God that these plastic pearls were in my hand but that my fist was tightly clenched around them. If He wanted them, He would have to help me open my hands.
We left for home that afternoon, and had to leave the same day for a family reunion in McAlester. When we arrived, we met my parents, sister and family, and brother and family, and went out to eat. As we sat around the table, I noticed that my sister was wearing a pretty beaded necklace. I asked her about it and she told me it was made of freshwater pearls. They were pink. It was the first time she had ever worn them.
The next day, we gathered with all of my aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandmother. We were sitting around chatting in small groups, when I overheard my cousin from Alaska talking about pearls. I looked over at her and noticed she had a pearl necklace on, and I asked her if they were real. She said, “Oh yes, they’re real.” They were pink. She has several colors of pearls and chose to wear the pink ones on the one-day I will see her this year.
God had put before me, as only He could, two real pink pearl necklaces less then 48 hours after I had asked God to be with me tangibly and first heard Zane speak of pink pearls, and less than 36 hours after I had asked Him to help me let go of my plastic pearls. Now I knew the answer to my question, “Why pink pearls?” God had been very specific so that I wouldn’t miss His answer to my request that He be tangible. He didn’t want me to miss His message to me: “I have your real pink pearls waiting for you; you don’t have to be afraid to let your pink plastic ones go.” He began to show me that I could let go of the past, my last connection to Lauren, because she is not there. She is in my future, so I don’t have to be afraid of leaving her behind. As I move forward in this life, I am actually moving toward her. She is alive.
One week later, God confirmed this through my Brainstem Care doctor. I went to him for the first time in 10 months and decided I was not going to bring up Lauren’s accident. His partner and wife, Mary, asked about changes, accidents, or deaths in the family during those 10 months. I had to tell her about Lauren. She asked me if she could share this with Dr. Ray and I said yes. When he came in and heard about Lauren, He asked me if she knew the Lord and I said yes. He then said this: “Lauren is not in your past. She is in your future. Don’t be afraid to move forward because you are moving toward her, not away from her.”
I have since been able to move more toward healing, because I now understand that healing doesn’t mean forgetting or leaving Lauren behind. It means moving forward in joy through the rest of this life, knowing that I am moving toward reunion with her. She is alive and God has promised me the real pink pearls of being restored to a relationship with her that will never be interrupted again.