The Bible As a Basis for Good Mental Health
A String of Pearls
I had so many ideas. . .projects . . .articles! Some of these ideas had materialized; some projects completed; some articles already written. But there was so much more still in my head!
Pastor Gretchen looked at my papers scattered all over the table. I hoped that somehow, this could be my final project for Lay Ministry School. Several times, she’d start to speak, but I’d interrupt, grabbing something more from another folder or notebook. I wanted her to get the full picture of my writing, and all of the life struggles that gave birth to so much of it. I desperately needed her to understand!
She listened patiently, compassionately, as I shared a fragmented outline of my life, how I had lost so much over the years! Homes, businesses, jobs, relationships—because of chronic brain illnesses, (SAD and ADHD). Her eyes welled up with tears, as if it was my pain-- overflowing-- from her!
She took a blank piece of paper, and drew a line across the width. Then she added some little circles on it. It looked like an elementary school number line . . . or maybe . . . a timeline to help me organize everything?? Off to the side she drew a little circle by itself. I wondered, where is she going with this?
“These things you have done, all your ideas and writings, are like pearls.” She drew a few more circles on the line. “You are looking for a way to connect these together. Do you see what I mean?” (I didn’t.) She continued, “This is a string. But you are not the string! Do you follow me?” I moved my head slowly from side to side. She said with authority, “You are not even the one who will string the pearls!”
Seeing my still-confused face, Pastor Gretchen shook her head and said, “Let’s back up a bit. Pearls. How are they formed? What are they made of?”
“Ss…sand?” was my tenuous reply.
“YES! Well, WHATEVER gets in there and irritates the oyster! Have you ever touched the inside of an oyster? It’s pretty soft and gooey, and . . . what gets in there annoys or frustrates the oyster . . . and what does the oyster do?”
“I know! The oyster coats the intruder with a substance to shield itself, to protect itself from the pain and damage that otherwise might be done!” I was catching on.
“YES! They make PEARLS! They take something bad and make it beautiful, just as you have taken your bits of adversity and showed how they can be beautiful examples of God’s love!" (Well, why didn’t she talk about the oyster first? I got confused about the string.) She wasn't done. "And look at the person you have become!”
I didn’t know what to think of that last remark, but I know the apostle Paul gave thanks for adversity. (I hadn’t!) Romans 5:2-5 “… but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, . . .”
Still uncertain of how to use my writing, Pastor Gretchen said, “What you need, many need!” The pearls were meant to be shared! They were born of adversity, and polished by perseverance. They are my voice . . . and A Voice Carries.