Of Jewelry Boxes and Birthdays

Joe and I are continuing our focus on accumulating less and appreciating more. The very act of decluttering has become an element of not only the things in our home but also the mind-set that affects every area of our lives. When our minds are not scattered in every possible direction, we think more clearly. When we are not trying to accomplish eight different tasks because we think we have to say yes to everything, we do with a joyful sense of accomplishment the three things we’ve chosen to do. When we create of our home a haven in which our spirits are refreshed, we are prepared to serve, help, and encourage others. Experiences, not items, are the gifts that we want to have fill our home.

If you’re reading Petals of Promises (the 365-day devotional Joe and I co-authored), you may have seen that my birthday was this past Monday (since that day’s entry made mention of that fact). My dear husband is both generous and thoughtful, so I lovingly reminded him early on that in our “experiences, not items” gifting to each other, I did not want a birthday present this year.

Imagine my surprise when my husband walked in with a signature gift box from our favorite jeweler!

However, I must pause here to make a confession that most women will find unbelievable. I may even lose credibility with some of you…but I was honestly a little miffed that he had bought me jewelry. I don’t need jewelry; I’m a minimalist in my wearing of jewelry (after years of wearing lots of jewelry…and big jewelry, at that); and we are supposed to be focusing on experiences, not items. So in that “nth” of a second when I pulled open the satin bow, I mentally prepared myself to have a right reaction and also to come up with a gracious way to tell him to please return whatever it was I was opening. Yes, I’m serious.

However, as the process of unwrapping the outer cardboard box and opening the inner jewelry box continued, I lifted the final lid and literally squealed with delight, declaring, “Best gift EVER!” when I realized that the inner jewelry box was empty!

You see, we keep an empty jewelry box on the main floor so that when we take off our rings for any reason, we always know right where they are and don’t have to worry about losing them or accidentally washing them down the drain. Last month, the box broke, and it was one of those little, insignificant things that didn’t really matter in the big picture, so I let it go and determined that yes, I could walk upstairs to use the other box we keep handy up there, or I could even still use the broken box if needed.

But Joe knew it mattered to me. He listened. He cared. And he gifted me with the perfect birthday non-gift: an empty jewelry box!

There are so many spiritual illustrations that we can draw from this that I’m not sure which one to settle on. But I do know this: sometimes nothing is the greatest gift that God can give to us. He listens to our heart’s cry. He hears our innermost longings. He knows our sincere needs. And then God, Who loves us with an everlasting love, gives us what is best for us. Trust Him. Wait for Him. Learn to squeal with delight when the box is empty.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6, NKJV).


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