Every year my husband gives me a Christmas "limb" gift, as in "out on a limb." It's usually something close to what I'd get myself, though there have been a couple of limb gifts that we would all agree weren't even on my tree.
I like jewelry. Tiffany entrances, Tourneau entices. I don't actually wear jewelry, though. Not usually. I grew up in the Halston years, with minimalist fashion icons and Coco's admonition to look into the mirror and take one decoration off.
For the last couple of months I've been wearing four bracelets and three rings, mostly all the time. My engagement & wedding rings. The elephant ring that wasn't a limb gift at all. Two silver bracelets with encouraging sayings about strength and love (also from my husband). A steel one, because I like the look with the others. And my STRONGER bracelet, the prototype for the ones we're selling.
It's been a year. In many ways it's been terrific. I've been privileged to work with my ministry partner Benton Stokes far more regularly than I dreamed was possible. We have enjoyed the company of friends often. I was home for Thanksgiving. I found a good chiropractor. All good.
It's also been hard. My husband got diagnosed with a serious heart condition that has us talking wills and downsizing. I left a salaried position for work that is deeply satisfying but not (yet, God willing) profitable. Middle school. Mental health. Spiritual health. Socio-political health. The appalling behavior of ...well, a lot of people. I lead a very privileged life, but as I tell my students and spiritual direction clients: suffering is suffering, from the inside.
I wear that STRONGER bracelet every day. I've knotted it on so I can't lose it easily. Every day I look at it, once, twice, constantly. It reminds me that I'm stronger than I think I am. It reminds me that I'm not alone. And every day at some point I need reminding:
You are stronger than you think you are.
Even when you're not.