Have you ever found yourself holding onto something you thought was real, but in the end wasn’t real at all?
Life’s funny. You think something’s true and based on that you build your whole world.
What do you do when face to face with someone who exposes a giant, faulty belief, with nothing but the facts in hand?
Thinking about this question reminds me of a story about a little girl named Jenny.
She and her mom were at the store. Jenny saw a beautiful string of plastic pearls and asked if she could have them.
Mom said, “Do extra chores and save allowances then you can buy them.”
Jenny went straight to work. The next week came. She couldn’t wait to visit the store. She ran in darting straight to the precious set of play pearls.
At the checkout, she pulled out the change to pay. She adored them only taking them off for bubble baths. Her dad tucked her in for a bedtime story each night; they always said I love you and kissed goodnight. One night Dad gently asked her, “Jenny give me your play pearls.”
She rebutted, “Oh, Daddy not my pearls! Take one of my other toys or my favorite stuffed bear.”
“That’s OK,” her father said, “just go to sleep and have a good night.”
Every few nights Jenny’s dad asked her for her play set of pearls and she always tried to convince him to take one of her other toys. Until one night. her dad entered the room to find her lying in bed crying.
“What’s wrong, Jenny?” he asked “Why are you crying?”
Her little hand slowly appeared from beneath the covers and there was her precious set of pearls. Tears streaming down her face she said, “Daddy, you can have my pearls.”
As quickly as he reached to take them away in one hand, from his other hand appeared a case containing a set of real pearls. With the warmest smile her dad exclaimed, “Sweetie, Daddy loves you so much. I’ve had this set of real pearls the whole time. I was just waiting for you to trust me to give up your set, so I could give you the real ones.”
“Oh, Daddy,” she said, “There so beautiful! Thanks, I love you so much. I’m sorry I didn’t let go of my pearls and take your pearls sooner.”
Maybe letting go of phony possessions, we hold onto for all kinds of reasons, allows us to take hold of real possessions?
Thinking about Jenny’s story provokes my heart to ache over our human story. All of us who’ve lived very long have been there before. You know the place where we hold onto some nickel-dime, phony way of thinking far longer than we should and it causes us continual unnecessary pain.
Think about a difficult time when you faced a giant faulty belief. Maybe lifelong conditioning or thinking about a belief based on preferences distorted your ability to accept something else as equally or even more true.
What words describe your “letting go” experience? Maybe you haven’t released the plastic pearl preferences and never experienced the power in “letting go as holding on.” If you’re not careful how you hold your plastic preferences you could find yourself crying too, realizing you’re not holding your preferences nearly as much as they’re holding you.
Plastic pearls provide an ironic paradox.
On one hand, we create prison cells of all or nothing thinking based on mindsets that make no sense. We are convinced our underlying assumptions are right and refuse to let go of them to make space for outside the box thinking.
On the other hand, we release faulty plastic preferences and are empowered to embrace the paradigm of parts. This allows us to know in part, see in part, understand in part and receive in part. But all-or-nothing thinkers are usually unwilling to accept the truth in parts.
This requires measured risk, getting out of your comfort zone and removing veneers; allowing you to be vulnerable. To the degree we’re willing to act like Jenny, we discover the eternal great affections of a Father waiting to exchange our childish, phony-pearl deceptions for a single grown up pearl of genuine great price; placing you face to face with someone who has more than facts.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather have a single pearl of great value than a jewelry box full of fake pearls.
What’s in your jewelry box?
Dr. T.J. Kimble of Radcliff is a clincal pastoral counselor. He can be reached at email@example.com.