What can I say, I'm a woman of many anklets. My mother tells me they look like a weird sock, and my sister thinks that every time I walk down the hallway it's her cat's collar jingling, but despite that, I'm pretty happy with my collection.
The first one that stuck around is my purple and black striped bracelet. It looks like it survived the plague, but when I first picked it up, it was sitting in a gift shop on the Santa Monica Pier. It was the June, a little family vacation for my sister's birthday, the end of a long, long month. I had just finished a semester of Bible College. I had spoken up about the abusive relationship I was in, but he had lied and it felt like the whole world didn't believe me. But despite everything that felt like a million pounds weighing me down, it hadn't been that bad of a day. It was actually one of the best days of that whole, upside-down year. We walked the beach, drove through Hollywood, I took a picture in front of the Jonas Brother's old house, it really can't be much better than Nick Jonas's childhood home am I right, it was a nice day. The whole mess of a month was a reminder over and over, trust God, trust God, trust God. I had the song Oceans on replay on Spotify, so I picked up an anklet at the gift shop on the pier and put it on, thinking over and over in my head the words to the song. I haven't taken it off since.
The next year was another psycho year, so there wasn't a lot of anklet collecting happening. I had gone back to school after summer, my PTSD made living on campus impossible, and I was sent home by the school because some people had started rumors and reported to the deans that they thought I was anorexic. Not exactly a charm you want on your ankle bracelet. I spent a few months at home and planned on going back, but the crazy all started up again and instead, I moved to Massachusetts for a few months. The snow was fine feet high everyday I was there, so also not an anklet I need reminding of. But then that March, I stated dating my current boyfriend. We're the cheesiest ever, so we got "friendship bracelets" and there was little blue anklet, number two. We took a trip with my family to California that summer and he got us matching shark tooth bracelets, that we still argue about weather they were actual shark teeth or not, and that was number three. I went back to Bible college, back to where my abusive ex was attending, and had the hardest six months ever. One day, while I was hiding in my room as I always did, and made a super ugly red anklet, and there came anklet four.
Number five came from the bookstore at the church I started interning at last January. It's a little lace bracelet with a gold compass charm, perfect for global ministry.
From there the anklets have gotten a bit happier.
When I had gone back to Bible college, most days I sat in my room all day after classes, because I was afraid to go outside, so I always used to think of Rapunzel, becuase I felt stuck and trapped somewhere. So, anklet six is a pink and gold braided bracelet, because I put it on when I started to feel like I was free again. Cheesy, I know, but Tangled is my Disney-spirit-movie. Haters 'gonna hate.
Seven is a rainbow anklet that was made by refugees I bought at a conference in LA about racial reconciliation. Crazy weekend, life-changing, note-book full of notes, super cute anklet.
Number Eight is a tiny gold pineapple that some of my favorite people in the world gave me for interning with them.
Number nine is a euro I put on an anklet, from my first time to Europe when we stopped in Germany on the way to Egypt.
Good ol' number ten is a red and white wrapped anklet I found at a bazaar in Cairo, my first international trip.
They're stacking up, and I often get asked if I'm a vegan because of my array of anklets, [Not sure I really understand the correlation, but I do love me some Native Foods, so go figure] but I love my collection.
At first I wondered if I should start taking them off. I started collecting when the mess of the past few years started to get crazy, so last year when I moved to California and began the process of starting fresh, I thought maybe I should lose the old memories that came with them. But, I realized more than anything, they weren't so much a reminder of the pain, they were a reminder of the things God had grown me through and gotten me past. I wish I could erase the years. I wish I could do it over. There's people I wish I never would have met and places I wish I never would have gone, but, if I hadn't been there, I wouldn't be where I am now. I wouldn't have found my voice. I wouldn't have grown a heart for what God wanted me to be an advocate for. I wouldn't have met the people who changed my life. I wouldn't have been able to see God work all the places I've seen Him work this year. I wouldn't have gotten on a plane to Egypt and had my world flipped.
In Luke 5, Jesus heals a paralyzed man. This is crazy for like eighteen different reasons, one mainly being, Jesus heals a man who can't move. This man's friends dig a hole in someone's ceiling, drop this guy down to see Jesus, and Jesus not only heals this man in a matter of seconds, He forgives him. Then, he tells a paralyzed man who was just lowered through someone else's roof to get up, pick up his mat, and go home. I heard one of my favorite kick-butt, Jesus lovin' women, Bianca Olthoff, speak on this passage not long ago, and she mentioned how interesting it is that Jesus told this man to not just get up and go home, but to take his mat. The mat he layed on for years, likely even his whole life. He probably dreamed about the day when he could walk and leave the mat in the dust and forget it forever. I would stand up and say no way, there's no way I can lug this dusty thing around anymore, grab me some stilettos and let's walk to Starbucks, I'm a free woman!
But Jesus said to pick it up and go. Obviously, Jesus didn't want this man to be constantly reminded of pain and suffering and to keep the mat as a token so he could dwell in misery for the rest of his life. Jesus set this guy free, spiritually and physically, that's what He wanted the once mat-ridden man to be reminded of.
Not every old trinket is a former paralyzed man's mat or some crazy kid's collection of anklets. It's good to refresh and get rid of the old things that weigh you down and remind you of things better left forgotten and in the past. But, God doesn't allow anyone to go through trials and pain without having a purpose for them to stand for on the other side. For the man, it was the mat. For me, it's some old bracelets I put on my ankle. Whatever yours is, remember why God told you to pick it up and take it with you.