Let me be candid. I was shouting in the officials’ room at the swim meet on Saturday.
Not my finest moment, for sure. That ugliness left me bone-weary at the end of the day.
The next morning when I got up early to read, I still felt the stone in my gut, the last vestiges of that conflict.
Several years ago, my friend and fellow-blogger Anna Brown made a reference to pearl-formation. I liked it so much I tried to incorporate it into my daily prayers, specifically in my creed where I state those things I believe. After many iterations, I settled on these words:
I believe that the trials in my life are ultimately God’s good for me; they are like grains of sand in an oyster that God uses to produce pearls.
When I arrived at that part the other morning, I thought of the man who had shouted at me and at whom I had shouted in turn.
“Lord,” I prayed, “I believe that ______ is a like a grain of sand, and that You can use him to produce a pearl in me.”
I sat there picturing the process that happens in an oyster. The presence of the irritant is sometimes a grain of sand, but often in nature is a parasite. The oyster excretes a fluid that coats the irritant, and then coats it again and again and again. The fluid, called nacre, is otherwise known as mother-of-pearl. Shiny, luminous, iridescent. Beautiful.
The longer the irritant stays in the clam, the more coatings it receives. It’s a slow process that can take up to three years for the pearl to reach its size. “Lower-quality pearls have often been ‘rushed’ out of the oyster too quickly (sometimes a year or less) and have a too-thin coat of nacre.” (from Pearls.com)
As I prayed, I could feel the edges of my irritation softening.
I prayed it again, this time inserting a different name. I’ve been walking the edge of irritability for a while now, more and more often losing balance and falling into frustration with this person or that situation.
As I named specific people or issues and prayed the prayer over and over, I began to picture a string of pearls.
And tears began to roll down my cheeks.
The funny thing is, I know I have three more years of interactions with the shouting man.
Three years. Just the right amount of time to form a good pearl.