I got it for Christmas in 2008. Spencer told me to remember that my trials were polishing me into a gemstone when he gave it to me. Pearls are made by a mussel forming a protective sac around its tissues to guard against irritants like parasites when they enter its shell. I've always liked the analogy that without trials we would simply be mussel tissue instead of something beautiful and rare. The same thing goes for butterflies. The difficulty it takes for a butterfly to emerge from its cocoon, gives its wings the strength to fly. Wikipedia describes this process of emerging as, “the life stage of an insect undergoing transformation.” To me, these facts have always served as a metaphor for enduring trials. I like to think of myself as a caterpillar, breaking open my cocoon a little with each trial I endure, and someday emerging as a beautiful butterfly with wings strong enough to fly. Or, simply mussel tissue that is being polished by my trials into something beautiful.
In True to the Faith, we are told, “As part of Heavenly Father's plan of redemption, all people experience adversity during their lifetime. Trials, disappointments, sadness, sickness, and heartache are a difficult part of life, but with the help of the Lord they can lead to spiritual growth, refinement, and progress.”
Adversity can come from different sources. Trials may come as a consequence of a person's poor choices, but the Lord never punishes us, he only teaches and strengthens us through consequences. Other trials are simply a natural part of life and may come especially at times when people are living righteously. We are given trials for an eternal purpose, to become stronger, wiser, and achieve eternal glory. In 2 Corinthians 4:17, we read, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.”
In Isaiah 54:11 and 12, the Lord describes what awaits us if we overcome adversity, “O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thee windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.”
This is one of my favorite scriptures. I like to imagine this metaphorical mansion and its windows of agates and gates of carbuncles and foundations of sapphires whenever I'm having a hard day. I've tried to paint it a few times, but it never works.
Tonight I got thinking. Wouldn't it be cool if I had a ring made out of agates, sapphires and carbuncles (garnets)? I like inspirational jewelry. Obviously, since I wear my pearl ring every day. My wedding ring with it's never-ending circle and indestructible diamond remind me of my eternal commitment.
CTR rings remind us to choose the right. I even have a toe ring that is engraved with the word "hope."
(Excuse my need for a pedi.)
So, I googled. I happen to love Cameos. I have a few, but they're all plastic. Guess what real ones are made of? Agates. So, my imagination went wild as I googled agate cameo rings. I found a few that I liked, but none with sapphires and garnets. So, I photoshopped one. Here is my masterpiece:
I included pearls because even though they're not mentioned in the scripture, I think they would be more than relevant to the symbolism. Surprisingly, I might want it a tiny bit smaller if I were to wear it every day. I don't think the color's would be too "I heart America" either, since garnets are so deep in color. But who I am to say we can be too patriotic? ;) I love her soft flowing hair in this cameo. It reminds me of cameos my great-grandmother had. I also love the cameos of mothers and children, but it would make me a little sad maybe?
And this cameo would make me cry for sure: