What the Three Items Symbolized



Spring 2011

On the second night of my silent retreat, when I knelt on my bed and offered Jesus as much as I could of what I wore, I got stuck. As I shared in my previous post, I got to a point where I'd given him everything but three items on my person: a lightweight white cotton tank slip, my wedding ring, and a pair of diamond and sapphire earrings that sparkled so brightly in my ears.

The next morning, when I met with my retreat spiritual director, she asked if there was any significance to those three items. Did they represent anything specific?

They did. I knew very clearly what each one meant.

The wedding ring represented my marriage . . . my way of being with Kirk, the way we relate, and how the specialness of what we share makes me scared sometimes to rock the boat and disrupt our idyllic union. I shared recently on my journey through the woods about the three humiliations I encountered rather early in the woods journey. One of those three humiliations was my relationship with Kirk and how I'd come to realize ways in which I'd been holding parts of the truth of myself back from him in order to preserve what I thought was our perfection.

That wedding ring on my finger was related to that. Would I give it to Jesus, allowing God and his truth-telling to become more important? Would I allow God to use me to not only make Kirk happy but also, perhaps, to make him more holy by being willing to be honest and say the hard things that might need to be said sometimes? Would I allow God to be more important to me than Kirk? Was I willing to make God my Lord?

I really hesitated with those questions, which is why I couldn't remove the ring.

The earrings came as a surprise to me. First of all, I don't own earrings like the one I wore in the image, but I saw that they were a perfect complement to my actual wedding ring, which is a large round diamond encircled by sapphires. The earrings in the image were the inverse of my ring -- they were large sapphires in the center, circled by diamonds -- and they were absolutely, stunningly beautiful.

But they were also a surprise to me because of what I knew they represented. I could tell very clearly that Kirk had given those earrings to me, and somehow they represented all the grand dreams and plans and hopes for the future we have shared. Over the years that we've shared our lives together, Kirk and I have voiced many dreams aloud to each other, and our hearts and our hopes and our desires are so much in line with each other. We often dream of the experiences and lifestyles and ministry opportunities and work we hope to enjoy over the course of our life.

Those earrings represented all those hopes and dreams, but they also represented more. They represented a desire for comfort. By wearing those earrings, I felt as if we'd made it -- we'd become financially secure and free to pursue the hopes and dreams we've always hoped to share. Was I willing to let go of those hopes and dreams? Was I also willing to let go of my hope for a financially secure future?

I wasn't sure I could. Those hopes and dreams were embedded so deep inside. I couldn't remove the earrings quite yet.

And lastly, there was the simple slip dress. It was plain cotton, made of eyelet material, and I liked its purity and simplicity. Just the thought of removing that slip sounded all kinds of warning bells inside of me. Just imagining myself removing it made me feel the need to cover myself.

Once I realized that reaction in me, I knew what the slip symbolized. It was covering my shame . . . I couldn't fathom removing the slip and exposing what felt like all the deep-rooted shame inside and outside of me.

So I was stuck. Stay tuned to read what happened next . . .