"This green one is an emerald," Dad continued. "This is your first boyfriend. The pearl is the first time you say 'I love you' to a man other than me."
I giggled. This was so amazing.
"The ruby stands for your first engagement. And the diamond represents the first time you say 'I do,'" Mom finished.
After letting that all sink in, I cleared my emotion-clogged throat. "What do the six tiny sapphires stand for?" I asked.
"Those are to remind you how beautiful and valuable you are to us and God," Dad replied. "Now here's the hitch in all this, the one and only rule you'll ever have to follow when it comes to dating."
Only one rule. Sounded good. But little did I know...
"Whenever you give one of these actions of love - a kiss, an 'I love you,' a hand to hold - you also have to give the recipient the gem to match."
I must've misunderstood. "I have to give him the gem?"
"You have to give it to him," Mom restated. I was silent for a moment. I thought they must be joking.
But they weren't even thinking of cracking a smile.
"But Daddy!" I suddenly shrieked. "These are insanely expensive! I can't just give them away!:
He gave a soft, loving chuckle. "Did you hear what you just said?" I thought about it.
"Baby, your purity, your heart, they're far more valuable than a few little rocks. If you can't find it in your heart to give away your charms, I don't think you should be giving away the things they represent."
I could feel my insides melting, ready to gush out my tear ducts. On the other hand, it made me feel valuable and precious. But on the other, it made me furious. It made no sense. But it would.
A few weeks after that night, I was hanging out with my friends at the beach. Chad wouldn't swim because I wouldn't swim. I was more interested in reading than getting caked with sand and he was more interested in sitting with me than swimming with his buddies. He was sweet. He was cute. And he tried to hold my hand.
I was thrilled for a nanosecond when a certain piece of ugly granite flashed through my mind and made me move out of his reach. I was severely annoyed - annoyed at my parents, annoyed at my bracelet-turned-handcuffs, but most of all, annoyed at myself. I was letting a little rock dominate my romantic life.
I furiously glared at it during the whole embarrassing walk to the bathhouse. But then God hit me upside the head with a shocking epiphany. I couldn't give up a little chunk of granite. It was a part of my bracelet, which in a sense made it a part of me. I wouldn't be whole without it. It wasn't a priceless gem, yet it was still valuable. It made sense after that.
Kevin came along eventually. We had fun. We hung out a lot. I thought I might love him. I thought I might tell him so . I thought of my pearl.
It turned out that I didn't love him as much as I thought I did.
So my parents had been right. They couldn't make me believe the things they wanted me to believe. So they let God and my bracelet do the work instead. Among the four of them, I figured out how valuable I was. How valuable my purity was. How not valuable guys were who were just wasting my time and emotions. If they weren't in it for the whole bracelet, why should they get one part of it?
Nate. He thought my bracelet was awesome. So he never tried to hold my hand. He never tried to kiss me. But he asked me to marry him.
I never knew that so many years of torture could amount to so much happiness. I'd thought it was silly. I'd thought it was overrated. But now, I have never been more glad of anything in my life.
As I gave my husband the charm bracelet in its entirety, I wondered why I had found it so hard to hang on to those little rocks when it was so amazing to give them all to the man I truly loved.
But it didn't end there. Now our daughter wears it.
Isn't that precious? I think the story tells it all.
Many blessings, friends!