In order for a piece of coal to turn into a diamond, it has to be placed in just the right conditions where high temperatures and high pressure change the carbon atoms into a new pattern. It is a very slow process and takes millions of years.
When I was in high school I wrote a poem that I still consider one of my favorite works, it is called “The Potential of Coal”. Over the years, the meaning of the poem has shifted and changed for me. The past couple of days I have been pondering the meaning more deeply and felt that I should share.
The Potential of Coal
I looked down and saw a piece of coal, not realizing its potential.
I walked right past, what a mistake; I did not realize the appearance was fake.
Later came one who was wise, and he was the one who got the prize.
For he saw the potential in that little piece of coal.
After time and work it became a diamond.
As I pondered the meaning that lies within I began to see that I have played all three parts of the story.
While I was growing up I didn’t feel like I was very important. I felt like I was plain and unnoticeable. I wasn’t picked on or bullied, and I wasn’t popular. Just plain Norma, nothing to really talk about. I remember at a young age seeking out the awkward and misfit kids to be my friends. I felt more comfortable and accepted there. I saw myself as a piece of coal: unnoticeable, boring, nothing fancy, just a wall flower. I didn’t feel like I was worth much.
As I got older if boys gave me attention, I ignored them. The attention made me feel uncomfortable. I knew that I was plain and that they were just teasing me. I became the “buddy” and always dismissed myself. I didn’t try to make friends with the popular crowd because deep down I knew that I didn’t belong there. I was plain. This is where I took the role as the foolish one. I didn’t recognize or own my value. I put other people on a pedestal and didn’t even give them a chance. I knew they wouldn’t want to be my friend so I didn’t even try. I ignored myself and my worth.
Then my life took an unexpected change for the worse. It was early in March 2013, I woke up like usual and got myself ready for work. My husband was mad at me and hadn’t talked to me at all for 2 weeks prior to the morning when everything would change. Right before I left for work I asked him if I could hug him. He said, “No, I’m moving out today.” My heart stopped, my brain started spinning, and my tongue was tied. I didn’t know what to say. When I got home from work later that day he was gone. This is when the temperatures started to rise. Soon after, he hired a divorce attorney. Then he started to make threats. The pressure and temperatures continued to rise. In September 2014, he asked if he could come home and I let him. He started counseling and in February of 2014, the details of his addiction and affairs came to light. In March of 2014, he moved out again. I struggled daily, just getting out of bed was a chore. I had my boys 75% of the time and simple parenting tasks were difficult. When I was at work I would just start crying. My mind wandered all of the time and I couldn’t focus. By July our divorce was final. For about a year and a half, I had been under more pressure and higher temperatures than I had ever been exposed to. This is when something beautiful happened. Over that period of time, God changed me. He made me different. For the first time in my life, I could see my potential. I could see that I had worth and I could become something. I became the wise one who saw the value. Slowly I am becoming a diamond.
Assignment for Healing: Do you ever dismiss your value? Make a detailed list of things about you that make you valuable.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Beall. (2012, May 26). Coal.