Running behind schedule this morning, I was a bit harried as I reached inside my jewelry armoire to grab a necklace that was hanging on a hook inside one of its doors. Because I have quite a few necklaces located on each hook, I had to grab the entire bundle that was hanging there in order to separate the one I wanted to wear from the rest of them. I was a bit peeved at myself when I realized that, in my haste, I had tangled up my sapphire necklace (which is one of my favorites) into a strand of faux pearls. Even though I have been working on this for a number of years now, patience is still not one of my stronger virtues, so I got a little frustrated when my efforts to untangle the two only resulted in knotting them up even more. I drew a deep breath in order that I would not let this little inconvenience unduly have an adverse effect on my morning. As I did so, my mind flashed back to another time and place, where I was just a little girl, and of a necklace that I once also treasured, but which was long ago lost to time.
When I was eight years old, my uncle gave me a watch pendant necklace. While it was probably a bit much for most eight year olds, I was most delighted by it, and wore it with pride, since it was an unexpected gift from him, and by far the most grown up necklace that I owned at that point in my life. My uncle was not very well off, having been on disability for a long time after an industrial accident on his job, so a gift from him for no particular reason was highly unusual. That added a lot more value to the necklace, and to me it was worth so much more than its actual monetary cost. The trouble with the necklace was that the chain would sometimes get tangled up into knots. As I typically wore it when I was visiting my grandmother, who kept me every summer while my parents worked, she is the one that I would turn to whenever it got into disarray, in order to get it back into a state where I could wear it. I always felt so safe with her, for I knew that, though the tangles in the chain were undoubtedly due to my own haste or carelessness, she would, after a few words of admonishment about how I should be more careful, nonetheless reach out her freckled hands and take the necklace from me. If I tried to assist her while she was working on it, she would gently push aside my hands, as there is really no way that two people could work on the same knot in that tiny chain at the same time.
So I trusted her implicitly to take the necklace, fix it, and return it to me in better shape than it was in when I solicited her assistance. She never failed to take care of that problem for me. Never once did she return the necklace in a worsened state. Never once did she break the chain. I trusted her with the child-like faith of an eight year old. I trusted her because I knew that she loved me unconditionally. No matter how tangled that chain became, she would take it into her pale, capable hands, and looking through her stylish horn-rimmed bifocals with what seemed to be infinite patience, she would unravel it until it was ready to be latched back the way it was supposed to be.
When I got to be a few years older, she would tell me that I could take care of it myself; however, she would supervise me, making sure that I was careful enough not to break the chain. She would often cite the old adage, “Haste makes waste!” This is something that I must still, at times, remind myself of – my grandmother, and whoever first coined that wise saying were right – sometimes we need to take a deep breath and slow down in order to truly grasp and solve a problem.
This morning, realizing that Mother’s Day is but a few days away, I was wishing that I could hand over my sapphire necklace into her hands. Alas, my beloved grandmother long ago left this earth; therefore, it was up to me to take care of it by myself. I forced myself to slow down, and reminded myself that I needed to trust myself to take care of the problem, because she had taught me all that I needed to know in order to do just that. I was equipped with the knowledge, armed with good advice, & comforted in knowing that part of her lingers on in the form of her indomitable spirit that she impressed upon me & so many other people during her time here.
Fortunately, I was able to get the necklace untangled in short order, and make it to my appointments on time. But as I was driving to the first one, I reflected upon the many tangles I’ve had to undo over the course of my life. I marveled at the complete trust & faith I’d had in that lady, the matriarch of my family. I remembered the times that my own children had come to me with their issues when they were yet still children, asking me for help in solving their own problems. I thought about how wonderful it felt to have someone offer you their total confidence in you.
I think that there is a lesson to be learned from those two twisted necklaces. The watch pendant that my grandmother always helped me with reminds me of how we turn to God with the problems that we find we are unable to handle on our own. Yet we do not always let go when we hand over those tangled knots into His capable hands. Like the little girl that still lives deep down inside my soul, though I ask Him to take over in fixing my problems, I often continue to try to help Him do so. I forget that He does not need my help. I forget that His hands are much more capable than my own. I forget that He loves me unconditionally, & that because of that, He is going to return the things in my life that need repair in much better shape than they were in when I turned them over to Him.
The sapphire necklace reminds me that, from every adverse circumstance that God allows me to endure, I can learn better how to cope with a similar issue in the future. That there are lessons to be learned from every trial that I endure. That I am more capable than I know. That I can indeed take some of Life’s tangles and knots and make some sense of them on my own, because I have had Him to teach me how to do so. It reminds me of the love I feel for my own kids, and how wonderful their trust and faith in me has always made me feel. It reminds me that, in any close relationship, I need to give the other person my faith and trust, and count on them to help me fix whatever may go awry in my life. It reminds me that there are people who are willing, ready and able to help me through the daily ups and downs that I encounter, if only I will let go & allow them to do so.
Life is like that: some days our lives go on easily, and without incident, while other days will be filled with unexpected twists and knots with which we must learn to cope. One day, when we have figured out when it is appropriate to reach out for help, and when we are capable of making progress on our own, then it will be time for us to stretch forth our hands and pass on the lessons of the twisted necklaces to another generation. We must always preface helping those who find their own lives in a twisted mess by remembering the times that our own lives were thus. By loving unconditionally, helping without passing judgment, & assisting others in finding their own strengths, we will be graced with the most wonderful gift of their trust and faith in us.
Trust and have faith in a higher power. Trust and have faith in yourself. Trust and have faith in others. For “there can be no love without trust”, and without faith there can be no redemption.