A large handful of years ago, I had a Sunday school teacher who changed my life. She has since passed away from cancer, but the things I learned from her are locked away for safe keeping within the most precious corners of my heart. One of those lessons was a story. It was about a group of women who were studying the Bible when they came across a verse about being refined like silver. Curious, one of the ladies made an appointment to talk to a real silversmith about the process.
Once there she asked a bunch of questions. "How does it work?" He answered, "I hold the piece of metal in the hottest part of the fire."
"What does that do?"
"It melts away all of the impurities."
She was almost done with her interview when she asked one final question. "How do you know when it's done being refined?"
"Oh that's easy," he replied. "It's done when I can see my image in it."
Something was brought to my attention today that warrants some much needed clarification. In my post on Day 29, I referred to leaving a horribly abusive marriage. It was pointed out to me that that could easily be misunderstood. I want to make it very clear that I WAS NOT REFERRING TO E'S FATHER. There were many different working parts that went into the equation of our marriage, but in no way (EVER!) was one of those abuse. He is a great father who loves his kids, and he's a wonderful person. We have spent the many years since our divorce working to build a solid co parenting relationship. During those years we've had about a hundred different conversations about what the parts of the equation actually were, and have adopted a mutual understanding of how and where we went horribly wrong. The result of that is something that about 99.2% of the time looks a lot like peace. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that those years are held in high regard by us both because of this little guy. The joy he brings into both of our worlds was worth a few years of confusion.
I take it for granted that most people know my story, but in case you don't there was a very brief
marriage mistake that took place in which the safety of myself and my child was compromised. That is what I was referring to in Day 29. All clear? Moving on.
Which brings me back to the silversmith. For the past few years of my life, I have been in a serious refinement process. It started a long time ago, and I'm sure it's not over yet. I have made a lot of mistakes, some small, some not so much. I have carried a lot of heartbreak and a lot of regret along the way. I will never shamefully beat around the bush. I own the fact that, at times, I have contributed a lot of muck to my life. A lot of sludge. A lot of tiny bits and pieces just begging to be stripped from my life. But in the past year or so, after being held in the hottest part of the fire, I can feel the impurities dripping away. God is refining me. He is holding up His end of the bargain, and has pulled me out of the muck and mire and set my feet on solid ground.
I don't pretend for a second that I'm done. I know, without question, that God will likely never look into my heart and see His image. He will probably always be able to find some impurity that He wishes to melt off of me. And I'm so thankful.
I am nothing more than a flesh and blood bit of God's grace, just wandering around this earth in yoga pants. I probably never deserved a second chance. I know I never deserved a third. But He gave it to me anyway, and it looks like joy.
I think my Sunday school teacher's story leaves out an important detail, and through the events of my life I have come to know it intimately.
Even when all there are to see are impurities, even when the precious metal is in the most intense heat of the hottest flame, the Silversmith is still holding on tightly with His full intentions on never letting go.
Thank you, Sweet Jesus.