Trauma invaded my life at a Jewish summer camp – Pocono-Ramona – on the Delaware Water Gap in the Pocono mountains.
From the incredibly young age of six until the age of twelve (when I was old enough to be a day-camp counselor and not a camper) my parents sent me to summer camp to escape the sweltering heat of New York City for two months of sports, swimming and a slew of other field trips and activities designed to keep ALL of us (the campers and the counselors!) out of trouble.
What was meant to be a quick stop during our day-long canoe trip to see a scenic waterfall became, instead, a scene from a horror movie. I did not see or feel the moss on the rock I was standing on until I hit the rock face first. Blood came gushing from my mouth and my permanent, front, upper tooth came out in my hand.
A three-hour bus trip to find my parents at the congested Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, with a young counselor who was more nervous than I was, resulted in an emergency trip to the dentist to save the ousted tooth. All to no avail. A dental solution did not exist as my orthodontist choose not to replace my tooth due to the interminable state of braces in my mouth.
Junior high and high school without a front tooth made life … well, toothless. Smiling was not an option. Being ridiculed was common. Talking was an embarrassment. And feelings of inferiority became a way of life.
I was already an insecure, physically undeveloped young woman having skipped a grade and starting school at an early age. It wasn’t as though I didn’t have friends, even boyfriends; I did. However, I knew I would never be pretty and that was just a fact of life.
At the end of my senior year of high school (I am not smiling in my senior photo), the braces finally came off and a fake front tooth was returned to its normal place, but the damage was already done. I still remember when a boy at college (who REALLY liked me) asked me what it felt like to be pretty. I laughed and cried at the ridiculousness of the question.
As time passed, it became a bit easier to accept the “new” me with a front tooth in place, but any thought that I might be considered attractive never entered my mind.
Imagine my amazement, then, when decades later (after allowing God to heal my deepest childhood wounds including sexual abuse, feelings of abandonment, fear of death and life, family dysfunction, and a host of other traumas just one of which was my missing front tooth), I learned that God wanted to give me a new name based on how He sees me.
“You will be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem (a jeweled crown) in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you deserted, or name your land desolate,” – Isaiah 62:2-4.
This Bible verse initially rang hollow because I was deserted and desolate. There would be no new name for me. However, when God healed me from the inside out, after being a God-follower for more than 30 years, I finally personally felt and experienced HIS protective, powerful, incredible and intimate love for me. It was then that I was ready to ask for and to receive my new name from God.
The instant I came to Him with an open and ready-to-receive heart, an image came to my mind. This is often how God speaks to me. I recognize it as a spiritual gift because the meaning of the pictures are usually unclear to me until I take some time researching in Wikipedia, which generally provides the clues.
The picture was of deep, wet, packed sand. About six feet under the sand was a slightly opened oyster. Inside the partially opened oyster was a pearl.
God spoke quietly (as He usually does) to my heart. “Your life,” He said, “has been the six feet of hard sand. Buried under that sand was your closed, hardened heart – the result of the pain you suffered. But I have opened your heart with My love and you are my beautiful pearl.”
Pearl. My new name is pearl.
Various definitions of pearl include: one that is choice or precious, of rare beauty, unique. Rare beauty? Me? Yes, the Lord said, adding, “And all the tragedies of your life (like the irritants inside the oyster which create the pearl’s beauty) have been used to form your beauty.”
I later learned that the Kingdom of Heaven is compared to “a pearl of great price,” (Matthew 13) and that “the twelve (Heavenly) gates are twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl,” Revelation 21:21.
I am beautiful. I am rare. I am unique. I have incredible value. God sees me this way and this is who I am.
I now smile widely, laugh freely, share my story, and pray for many who receive their new name.
God – who is beautiful and who created unfathomable beauty for us to enjoy … fashioned me for beauty and for sharing His love with you.
He wants you to know that He has a new name for you as well. Will you ask Him to reveal it to you and let Him change your life forever?
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion – to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair,” – Isaiah 61:1-3.