I was preparing for my annual Christmas concert as December drew near. I made sure I had someone to run sound, a hairdresser, someone to do my make-up, refreshments, etc. Then of course, there were hours of practice and putting together the set-list. I needed to keep my back-up vocalist updated as well so she would know what to sing.
But there was one detail I didn’t consider right away and that was my attire for the evening. Typically, I make it my mission to get a new Christmas dress or something holiday-themed to wear for each concert. I never want to wear the same outfit more than once from year-to-year. But this year, I had not purchased anything new, so I began to scramble to fashion some semblance of a new look. It was then that I found a little black dress toward the back of my closet. I remembered purchasing it at the local thrift store for a dollar. I paired it with a three-quarter-sleeved jacket patterned in black and cranberry tones. It seemed perfect! But there was something missing.
I shared my dilemma with a friend, and she immediately showed interest. She and her sister share a business in designing necklaces and other accessories, and her initial response was that I needed a long, chunky necklace to liven up the simple black dress. She told me that they could design something for me if I would give them ideas on the color of beads and how large they should be. I was excited about the possibility, but I was unable to give her any ideas. My visual impairment doesn’t help me conceptualize creative things like this, so I told her the only thing that came to mind. I wanted something in black, white, or silver tones— not too chunky but glittery to some degree.
She took my meager specifications, and I didn’t hear from her for a few weeks. But about a week before the concert, I received a text message from her with a picture attachment. It was a picture of the almost-completed necklace with just one bead missing. She promised me that they would have that last bead before my concert, and she wondered what I thought of their creation. I had to tell her that although I could see the picture, I really couldn’t say for sure if it met my expectations. I needed to see it… feel it in my hands.
So I decided to trust her judgment, and two days before the concert, I finally had possession of the necklace. It was perfect! My friend had completed something that met every expectation I didn’t even realize I had possessed. She had taken my limited ideas and made something that far exceeded anything I could have come up with on my own.
I wore the necklace the night of the concert, and its beauty was a constant reminder of trust and the incredible knowledge that my friend knew me so well as to create an accessory that mirrored my unique style. It was interesting that in the weeks that followed, the custom-made necklace would serve as a different kind of reminder, and it would go far beyond physical, glittery beauty.
The week after the concert, I came down with what I thought was the flu. It later turned to pneumonia. The coughing was endless, and as a result, I lost my voice— just in time for Christmas Eve. I cried when I realized I wouldn’t be able to sing “O Holy Night” or any Christmas song for that matter. I could barely squeak out a lower-pitched harmony— something that resembled tenor or maybe even bass. I couldn’t understand why God would allow my voice to be taken at such an inconvenient time.
I wasn’t sure if it was an attack from the Enemy or if God had some other plan for the Christmas service at church. As I offered up my weak harmony, I listened as the other girls sang with such beauty. Vanessa had not planned on a solo, but I gave her my song to sing, and she sang it as if she had been singing it for years. I was disappointed that I couldn’t participate in the service like I had wanted to, but I had to count my blessings.
You see, I’m pretty stubborn. The only reason I went into the doctor three days before Christmas Eve was because I had lost my voice, and I wanted it back so I could sing at the service. But there was nothing the nurse could do to bring my voice back; she could only give me antibiotics and hope that the pneumonia would respond to the medication.
I thought about how easy it would have been just to stay home and let the pneumonia run its course. I didn’t need the doctor to tell me I was sick. But my grandma made sure I realized that if I hadn’t gone to the doctor that Saturday, the pneumonia may have progressed to such a degree that I could have landed in the hospital. Imagine what a crummy Christmas that could have been!
It brought me back to that custom-made necklace. Like my friend as she strung together the beads, God knew just what circumstances needed to align to make sure I got the help I needed. I had prayed that I would know what to do in regards to going to the doctor, and on that Saturday morning, I felt that He was leading me to go to the clinic. I did not get my voice back in time for Christmas, but perhaps God had a bigger plan than I could have imagined. Perhaps He needed me to take a back seat at the Christmas service and let someone else’s gifts shine for a change. It didn’t always have to be me in the limelight at special services. Maybe it was a lesson in trust or endurance. It didn’t make sense to be sick at Christmas, but perhaps God was showing His faithfulness in the healing process.
Like that final bead that completed my necklace, God came through when I needed Him. Spending Christmas sick was not what I wanted, but perhaps it was what I needed to come to a place of deeper trust and faith. He had custom-made my circumstances to bring me to a place of inner peace and joy. I wasn’t at peace in the moment, but now on the other side of Christmas and the new year, I see the greater purpose in the inconvenience of sickness. Maybe I’ll never truly understand why it had to happen, but perhaps I need to understand that He has custom-made me and my circumstances to line up with His purposes.

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