“Set up signposts,
Set your heart toward the highway,
The way in which you went.
Turn back, O virgin of Israel,
Turn back to these your cities.
How long will you gad about,
O you backsliding daughter?
For the Lord has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.” Jeremiah 31:21-22
I lost a bracelet Friday. It wasn’t valuable monetarily and it was really quite simple. Nonetheless, it was priceless to me. For this wasn’t just any bracelet. It was the one I had worn for nearly twenty years. I was twenty-one when my friend, Carmen, gave it to me. And sadly, I lost touch with her long ago. But then, we were inseparable. She gave me the thin, silver band as a parting gift before she moved to Germany. And I was delighted with the piece of jewelry. For many reasons, I guess.
Me and Carmen… Oklahoma… 1994
In think one reason I adored that bracelet stemmed from my high school days. I just didn’t have a lot of jewelry. Unlike my best friend, who had amazing jewelry. A lot of it. I confess, I was nearly green with envy. Oh, how I coveted her silver collection. Not to mention her make-up, stuffed closet and CD collection. Yep. I did a lot of coveting my junior and senior years. I wanted what she had. And so, when my friend gave me a lovely piece of jewelry, I don’t think she knew how much it would mean to me. I added it to the few pieces I already owned… some inexpensive earrings, a few bracelets, two silver rings and a class ring. Oh, there was one diamond ring. However, one of the diamonds was missing. That’s a story for another day.
And so, there was a bracelet. A thin, silver band. At first, although I wore it often, I didn’t wear it every day. But over time, I began to wear it more and more. Eventually, I began to sleep in it, bathe in it, swim in it. I lived with that bracelet attached to me. It became a part of me. Oh, I may have added another bracelet to my wrist alongside the first. But Carmen’s bracelet stayed put. It was rare that I didn’t have it on. In fact, it was a few months back when I thought I should remove it. I took it off for a while, but it felt unnatural. I felt naked, and so the piece of silver quickly made its way back to its rightful home. And there it stayed. A piece of me. Until Friday when I lost it.
In thinking back on my journeys, I realize that bracelet did some traveling, too. It was such a part of me, in fact, that it’s attached to many significant moments in my life. It was there when I went to Korea…
The bracelet adorned my wrist when I moved to Savannah and fell in love.
Savannah, GA… 1996
It was there when we dated, when he proposed to me, and during our engagement.
Fall 1996 October 1997
Then there were the days before the wedding. Look closely and you’ll see the bracelet remained. Through the shower and the day before I said, “I do.” The bracelet was a part of me. A part of my life.
Me & mom, June 1998 My mother-in-law made my dress
The bracelet held fast to my arm through the honeymoon… and even when the honeymoon was over, for we had our first marital tiff.
June 1998 Scowl on face, July 1998
The bracelet endured… through our first two moves.
Pennsylvania, 1999-2000 New York, 2000-2001
There were special occasions… like my high school reunion. By the way, this is me and my dear friend. She had all the cool jewelry when we were seniors. And I know for fact that she still does as we just had lunch recently.
There were more moves, more occasions, more events, more life. Me and my bracelet…
North Carolina, 2001 Another part of NC, Karaoke party for one, 2003-2004
First (only) cruise, Spring 2005 Labor Day weekend with Daddy, 2005
The bracelet was always there. Even for the miracle of new life.
And then, the tiredness waned. The fun began. The bracelet stayed put.
I wore that bracelet on vacations…
And I wore it when my deepest desire became reality. God sent me back home. After six months, we settled in a house in my home town. And within a year, we put down roots.
2010 – 2013
All these pictures evidence the journey of my life. And the significance of a bracelet? It was a part of me. Always. It was there for everything. From Oklahoma to Korea to Georgia to North Carolina to Pennsylvania to New York. Back to multiple locations in North Carolina and ultimately… Virginia. My home. And so on Friday, when I looked down and found the bracelet wasn’t where it should be, I was surprised. It was as if part of me was gone. But rather than sadness that something valuable to me was lost… I felt expectant. Rather than grieve over a thin piece of silver that held so many good memories… I look forward instead. Because I believe I’m supposed to.
You know… I haven’t written since January 17. It was just before my birthday and I wrote about the significance of the date… January 22, 1973. Roe v. Wade. And then, eleven years later came sanctity of human life Sunday. The day of my birth is fraught with significance. And so, I shared about my past. I told of things I had done that I wish I hadn’t. And I realized it’s those things I’ve been carrying with me all this time. Along with the good, it’s regret that’s been attached to the bracelet… attached to me. I just didn’t know it. Because for so many years, I thought I was fine. And in looking at these pictures, I look fine. I look happy. But smiles are only skin deep and brokenness can be hidden. And all of this has come to the forefront of my heart and mind these past few weeks. And I find that through the insignificant act of losing a bracelet, I find a promise. I find significance.
So much has taken place in a matter of days… so much deep within that words fail me. And so, all I can do is tell about a bracelet. A bracelet… fraught with significance. Priceless in that it held so many memories. All those good ones displayed above. And yet, the rest of my past was attached to the thin, silver band as well. From a covetous heart to a couple of years I wish I could undo. See, the bracelet was a part of me. It held fast to my arm before I returned home, before I had my baby and before I met my husband. The bracelet was there for those things I don’t want to remember. All that regret. And yet, I wore it always. It was part of me. Until Friday. And so, January 31, 2014 becomes significant. As significant as the bracelet I lost. Because in the removal of a silver band that held me to my past, I find that I am now free to move forward. Expectant once again.
Look, I am about to do something new;
even now it is coming. Do you not see it?
Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19