Green: Being patient despite the tangles of life


I’m cleaning out my jewelry... decades of bracelets and necklaces and rings and earrings that have been moved from Houston to Kingsland to Copperas Cove to Louisiana, back to Copperas Cove, and finally to Stephenville. The most difficult part of the process has been untangling all the delicate chains, raveled with time and travel, wasted for years in old jewelry boxes. And one of the biggest problems is determining if each piece is real silver or gold vs. the cheap costume stuff. I really don’t care to spend hours of my time unraveling something that will ultimately leave a green stain on my neck.

Renae Green column

I’ve pulled out hunks of knotted chains dating all the way back to the 1980s. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos on how to untangle necklaces and went to work. One by one, I separated delicate, 14K gold chains from cheap stainless steel, sterling silver from titanium. I tested each with a magnet (the good stuff isn’t magnetic). After many days and many more hours, I feel like I’ve inherited the Crown Jewels. I have a whole new set of vintage jewelry which I’ll proudly wear, everywhere I go. If you see me in Walmart stacked with more gold chains than a rap star, please notice and admire.

Through patience and perseverance, I’ve gained success with every tangled hunk I found. That is, all except one. After separating two other necklaces from one wad, I was left with my 1980s add-a-bead necklace. I remember when I received it. Those necklaces were the “in” jewelry for high school and college preppy girls, and all my friends had them. One Christmas, I opened a small box to find my starter necklace – a gold chain with three beads. The idea behind the add-a-bead craze was to add a bead for every important life event: birthdays, graduations, awards and accomplishments. My chain still has three beads... either I haven’t accomplished much or I haven’t gotten any older.

The problem with this necklace, after decades of neglect, is that the chain is knotted between each of the beads, and it’s difficult to untangle it because I can’t just slip the chain through itself. It must go over each bead, and there are so many twists and snarls, I can’t make it work. Each time I loosen one knot, I tighten another.

I’ve followed all the expert advice: I’ve used two straight pins to work the knots loose. I’ve sprinkled with baby powder. I’ve saturated in olive oil. And though it is better than when I started, I think I’ve reached the end of my abilities. The necklace is now in a zip-lock bag, ready to go to the jeweler.

The detangling process is tedious and time-consuming, but it’s also relaxing. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to God, asking Him to help me find the end of whatever blasted chain I was working on. And I’ve learned a lot about patience and persistence. Sometimes we find ourselves in a hot mess of twists and tangles... some of our own doing, some out of our control. Whatever the cause, most of life’s puzzles take time to unravel. There’s no easy way, but with perseverance, we can prevail.

Other times, though, no amount of patience or hard work can solve the problem. We can do everything in our ability, and the thing just won’t unravel. That’s when it’s best to be humble, admit defeat, bag it up, and leave it with the Master. When we do that, it’s still usually not a quick fix. Remember— it takes time to create a masterpiece. But when we put our lives in His hands, He takes care of us while we wait. He holds us up and gives us strength. In time, He’ll unravel our lives and make something beautiful from the mess. And that’s far more valuable than a 1980s add-a-bead necklace.

“They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Renae Brumbaugh Green is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. She lives in Stephenville with her handsome, country-boy husband, nearly perfect children, and far-too-many animals. Connect with Renae at www.RenaeBrumbaugh.com