Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bigger Picture Moment: On Earrings and Prayer

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Hills and valleys, that's how it is with my faith.  My interaction, my prayers, my belief, they all come in hills and valleys.  As with anything else, I suppose; moods and creativity and energy and patience and willpower, they all ebb and flow, right?

And right now, there's a particular lull in prayer.  I don't usually talk too much about my own faith here -- it's mine to protect and to be awed by and to share or not share, I think -- but this feels okay.  So I can tell you, in this okay place, that I can't seem to find the groove I've had before.  The praying groove.  I miss it, but there are distractions, so I don't know that I miss it. 

It's like a soft, hollow spot in my chest that's so quiet and unobtrusive as to pull me in around it until it's full of something else.  That hollow spot gets filled, whether I fill it with prayer or not.  I wonder what I'm filling it with?


Justin gave me a tiny pair of diamond earrings on our wedding day.  Sweet, clear studs hugged by a thin glimmer of gold.  Delicate and stable at the same time.  Like love, probably.  I almost never took the earrings out.  I wore them without ceasing, through seasons and occasions, keeping my ears quiet and hidden, because who would draw attention to these ears if they could help it?

In a fit of fashion-forwardness (which may as well be fashion-sidewaysness for all I know of style) after cutting my hair in a short almost-pixie 'do, I'd removed my small, hidden studs and replaced them with danglers.  Baubles to take away some of the nakedness from around my neck.  Decorations instead of silence. 

And oh, I loved the danglers.  They moved against my neck and tugged on my lobes and made me feel pretty.  I wasn't entirely convinced that the pixie haircut had been a good choice, but with the addition of show-stealing earrings, my confidence was boosted. 

But wouldn't you know it: my hair grew back.  Surprise.  My ears retreated behind curtains of brown, resting again in the quiet of darkness. 

I put away the dangly earrings. 

I forgot to replace my tiny studs.  They began to collect dust on top of my jewelry box.


Earlier this week, I woke up with an urge.  Whether I'd seen something pretty on a stranger or merely remembered the weight of them, I woke up wanting earrings.  My earlobes were bare, boring, blank.  It had been a long time (not long exactly, but longer than ever before) since I'd worn them, and I suddenly missed them.  And not even the reassuring plug of the diamond studs -- I wanted baubles.  I wanted pretty, shiny things to peek from behind my short curtains of hair, to add lustre to my daily dullness. 

I found my favorite pair of droopy earrings and stood in front of the mirror.  Not looking -- it's simple to place an earring in a hole, after all (But why do we stand in front of mirrors for things we feel require no vision?  Habit?) -- I felt around for the wire loop's foothold in my ear.  I prodded my earlobe, searching for the path.  Not finding it.  Squinting at my reflection, I pulled and tugged and pushed and squeaked.  Pulling and tugging and pushing to make it through, and squeaking when I met painful resistance. 

My pierced ear had begun to heal. 

I had a moment of confusion.  It'd only been, what, a month?  Can a hole be sealed up in such a short amount of time?  And more to the point, should I push through to the other side?  Should I force the earring? 

Self-preservation said no.  The pain of re-piercing my own ears with nothing but a pointed wire would be more than I could bear, surely. 

Stubbornness said yes.  If my skin was starting to grow over, it wouldn't be much trouble to just push through now, rather than wait until it was truly impenetrable. 

Stubbornness won out.  I dug the wire into the small dimple of my lobe, searching for the path of least resistance.  Tears sprang to my eyes.  I worried and stopped and re-started.  Finally, the earring passed to the other side.  No skin had been broken, no wound had been forced, but a blocked path had been scooted aside to make way for the metal wire.   I wore the dangly earring in one ear -- it sat swinging joyfully despite my ordeal -- hoping the second side would be less trouble.  But if it wasn't as troubling, it was only because I knew it was possible to push through. 

That night, sick of the ache and itch from my hard-won earrings -- maybe the cheap metal was irritating my tender wound -- I carefully removed them and massaged my earlobes in relief. 

I couldn't have slept in those prickly, tugging earrings, but I knew what I could sleep in: my tiny diamonds. 

They slid in without restraint.  Their presence was accompanied by no ache or irritation.  My ears were comfortable in their piercedness once more. 


This morning, I woke up with a different urge.  From nowhere (from Somewhere?) I was overcome with the need to pray.  To talk and seek and fret and wonder. 

The prayers slid in without restraint.  Like they'd been made to fit in the hole in my chest, like they'd kindly push aside whatever else -- something shiny?  something inane? -- that had been holding their place. 

I am comfortable in my piercedness once more.  Taking that step to open the path is all it took.  All it takes.  All it will ever take.

We invite you to join us in finding the Bigger Picture amidst the hectic, everyday craziness in your week.  Share your link and spread the love by viewing and commenting on other Bigger Picture Moments. Next week we'll begin hosting Bigger Picture Moments at Bigger Picture Blogs, and we hope you'll join us again!


  1. What a beautiful connection! I'm so glad you shared it here!

  2. Sigh. So nice. And such a good point that something will fill in, whether we intend for it to or not.

  3. You are such a lovely, lovely writer, dearie, and I love the way you see things!

  4. Oh, Sarah. Isn't it wonderful how He fills the hole with the perfect size posts.
    I go through mountains and valleys of prayer time, too. {And reading and quiet time, if I'm being honest.} And I think that's the beauty of the journey -- knowing the different scenery and taking in those places. But I do believe based on the Word that when you're at a loss for words in prayer, the Spirit intercedes for you and takes the requests of your heart to God. That comforts me {maybe too much? lol}.
    I loved this. A whole lot. You are such a poignant, beautiful writer. Thank you for sharing your heart with us.

  5. Such a great analogy and so beautifully written. I'm with you on the mountains and valleys. My faith (and the disciplines surrounding it) is cyclical, and I'm so thankful that the Someone continues to draw me back, again and again.

  6. Sigh. Oh my, that just made me cry. What lovely thoughts you just gave me to start my day!

  7. That was beautiful. I just love how you make connections like that.

  8. So beautiful, Sarah. I'm finding the same thing... the peaks and valleys that make up my faith and spirituality. I think they're necessary, and make me so grateful for each phase.

  9. Thank you, that was a beautiful connection to make.
    The ups and downs of faith, prayer and quiet time seem to be common to everyone, maybe it is just part of the journey.

  10. Wow. And my ears start to seal up within days, I wonder how long it takes for my heart to start closing up.

  11. oh, i hear this. i'm in a lull, and i want to want, you know? and yet i know that obedience is to meet Him faithfully, without waiting for that feeling first...

    getting offline. returning to the path and conversation. thank you.

  12. Sarah, this was lovely. I am the same way - cyclical with my peaks and valleys of faith. But no matter how deep the valley, God always finds a way to bring me back up to a peak!

  13. Such a gorgeous post!! You have a way with words that just pulls me in every time.

  14. I love this idea of thinking about the bigger picture.

    Your post was a very good reminder too. In order to be close to the Father, we have to push things out of our way sometimes. And isn't it great that He is always there...waiting.

    This is my first time to link up. I've been meaning to for a long time. I have enjoyed Hyacynth's blog for a while now. This is my first time to visit you. I am looking forward to reading more!

    Thanks for hosting.


Hmm...And how did that make you FEEL?