My birthstone is the opal, and recently I became the owner of two different opal rings. As a young girl, I was cautious with my opal jewelry because it has always been known to be a soft and porous gemstone. So, I only wore them on special occasions and handled them with great care. Until recently. I came across an infographic about the opal gemstone. One line stood out to me in the care and handling instructions – “Wear it often to expose it to moisture and humidity.” It seemed incredibly counterintuitive to someone who had otherwise believed this gemstone was so delicate and fragile. But now it is encouraged to expose it to the elements, perhaps to maintain or encourage resilience. The concept intrigued me, and I considered the life applications and parallels.
We humans enter the world, fragile and delicate and helpless. And those who are not experienced with babies, especially newborns, handle them with such tenderness and great care. I see it all the time in my office, new fathers painstakingly undressing their freshly born infant, so worried that they are going to hurt them if they are too rough. That’s the way we treat ourselves all throughout our lives, like newborns, fragile and sensitive and afraid to be brave with our lives and our hearts. We walk through life shying away from the difficult and challenging experiences because we are afraid of getting hurt, afraid to make bold choices. But those are the very things that help us grow, doing the things that scare us – stepping out into a new work field, telling that person how we really feel about them, taking a chance on a new endeavor. It’s the only way to build a resilient spirit, to push through fear and do the things that scare us the most. Not unlike the opal, to build resiliency, we must expose our hearts to the “elements”, those life experiences that stretch us and pus us to the limits of who we are and what we are capable of. Freedom lies on the other side of fear. We just have to determine within ourselves that we are going to push through and grab freedom for ourselves.