My Spiritual Life in Jewelry
I’m something of a jewelry fiend. I love jewelry, and own entirely too much of it. Recently I noticed a trend; I can trace my spiritual journey through specific pieces of jewelry.
For a long time I owned and wore a ring that said “To thine own self be true.” I lost it in NYC, but it was my version of a CTR ring. For most of my life, I wanted to be a good Mormon. I struggled with the culture (growing up in Utah it was pretty prevalent) and so I wore a Shakespeare ring instead of standard CTR ring. And I had questions and concerns about various church doctrines and policies. But I wanted to do all the right things and believe the right things. So I put my struggles on a shelf and did what I was supposed to. Growing up in the church wasn’t a bad thing, but my brain is not designed to put things on shelves and leave them there. I admire those who can take things on faith; I’ve never been very good at that, so my shelf didn’t last.
When I got married and started wearing a wedding ring, I was forced to face my concerns about women in the church. Before I got married, being a wife, mother, homemaker, etc. were issues that I didn’t need to deal with immediately. But after getting married I had to deal with my feelings about not wanting kids, about wanting to be more then someone’s wife who supports him, about my issues with the idea of presiding, about being a couple and not an individual in the eyes of the church. It also meant I went through the temple and discovered all the concerns for women there, which don’t bother some but bothered me.
As various LDS doctrines stopped working for me, I felt the need to determine what I believed, not just what I didn’t. What did I want to guide my life if it wasn’t the LDS church? About that time, my parents got back from a trip to Italy. They went to Assisi, and my mom brought me this. It’s called a “dau,” a symbol used by St. Francis of Assisi. I’ve always loved his story; he taught the importance of caring for the poor and lived what he taught. I figured if I was going to find new guiding principles, caring for those in need was a good place to start. So I wear the dau to remind me of St. Francis’ compassion.
Changing beliefs also comes with a changed concept of God. I read Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees that says “Everyone needs a god that looks like them.” I felt truth in that statement, and began searching for the Divine Feminine. I do not connect with the idea of a Heavenly Mother, so I started looking at the idea of a Goddess. I loved Greek mythology as a kid, especially Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom. One of her symbols is an owl, so I found and wear an owl to bring the Goddess into my life.
As I’ve been creating a new belief system, I’ve had to examine rules I followed just because LDS leaders told me to. There are good reasons for many of those rules, but I couldn’t get my head around the one about piercings. I’ve always liked the look of double ear piercings, but I didn’t get my first one until after the one piercing talk. But since I couldn’t think of a reason not to get one (I can take them out in formal settings and the hole is not very obvious if there’s nothing in it) I got my ears pierced a second time and I’m having a blast with it! As someone with too many earrings, now I have a chance to wear more of them. I feel in control of what I do with my body and my life, instead of giving that control to someone else.
My most recent piece of jewelry is a cross my husband got me for my birthday. I identify as a Christian because the stories of Christ in the New Testament, whether they are true or not, provide an example of compassion that I want to emulate. I’m still working on my opinions about the Atonement and historicity of Jesus Christ, but the story of someone who loved people enough to choose to die for them, to suffer with them so he would know how to comfort them is profound to me. It is the kind of person I want to be; I want to know how to help people in pain, to show compassion to everyone, even those who disagree with or hurt me. I’m not very good at it, but wearing the cross reminds me of the person I want to become.