On Rings and Nose Jewels

Heather Kole is a full time American student living in Scotland. She spends her free time writing on her tiny mediocre blog, writing lists & running around in general panic. You can find more of her writing at http://honeybeau.blogspot.co.uk.

Last week, this rebellious writer took her nose ring out. You read that right– I yanked that sucker out. Members of my ward never commented on my rougher appearance, even after my baptism. The missionaries would mention it occasionally but never in a way that shamed or angered me. The single silver representation of the teen years that had only so recently ended was the lone sign of a darker past I was struggling with.

When my mother was first brought to the hospital with what they classified as a “complete mental breakdown”, my family was torn apart. There were debates between parents on who should have and care for my younger brother and I. Would our grandparents take us while our mother recovered? Would our dad, never having had full custody of us, step up to the plate and take on the challenge of a 12 and 14 year-old pair of preteens? Was our stepfather even legally allowed to care for us without our mother present? It was a tumultuous time in our house that affected everyone residing within it. Between outpatient treatment, inpatient treatment and an almost three month stint where we didn’t see our mother at all, we were a broken family. High school was difficult; my brother and I never brought our friends to our house in case they found out about our mother. In case they saw the cuts on her arms or heard her yelling when she decided she didn’t need to take her medicine anymore. I developed a fear of loud noises and when walking home from school as children, both of us would become quiet when we came in view of our house, just in case the ambulance was there again. While our mother was trying to balance her medication and her mind, we were balancing our home life and ever growing anxieties

I reached a point in high school where the lack of control was causing irrational decisions on my part. Dangerous eating habits, nervous tics and sudden phobias were beginning to build upon each other and created a wall between me and everyone else around me. In an effort to take my life back, I walked into a body modification shop and asked for two nose piercings. The first one came out after I realized how ridiculous it looked. The second one stayed where it was, a symbol of my broken heart and heavy soul.

After my baptism I couldn’t bring myself to take it out. It was still something I fought about at night, when all the thoughts I avoided came out and resurfaced. It was something I couldn’t bring myself to do. If I took that ring out then that brittle control, that rope I was clinging to would break.

When I received my first calling as Relief Society teacher, my lesson was on the Holy Spirit. We were speaking on living our lives in such as way that the Holy Ghost may be with us when a sister commented, “When we are around things that are negative, we become negative. When we accept things that are positive, we become positive. We accept Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father and we become like them.” Her words struck me and after several nights of prayer and tears and worry that I was giving something to my Savior that even He couldn’t handle, I stopped and took a deep breath. I closed my eyes and knew that all things are under His control, that all things are possible through Him that lives.

The representation of one of the darkest times in my life was doing nothing but forcing me to dwell in an unhealthy way that was both physically and spiritually dragging me down. I used self-mutilation and eating to create a control in my life that was lacking. When I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I was giving that burden up to my loving Heavenly Father and he gave me a faith, His eternal and everlasting love and a most precious Savior to help me find what I was looking for.

Last week I took out my nose ring and gave it to the Elder who baptized me as a joke. I thought maybe he might cry; he looked like he was close to it. I thought I might cry along with him, cry for my past and cry for the future that promises to be unburdened with the help of my Heavenly Father. A future that promises to be lighter, golden, and attached to my heart rather than silver, round and attached to my nose.

 

18 thoughts on “On Rings and Nose Jewels

  1. I love this, Heather, for your strength in telling it, and the beautiful way you write it, and for the sudden recognition that there is something in my life I hang on to for a similar reason that is misunderstood by anyone looking on. God bless.

  2. I loved this!! The best part of this for me was that you removed your ring when it was right for you, and not for anyone else. And bless those accepting members in your ward….

  3. “after several nights of prayer and tears and worry that I was giving something to my Savior that even He couldn’t handle,”

    ^This is my favorite part.

    Intellectually we *know* that there is nothing our Savior can’t handle, but we all individually need to come to this knowledge in our hearts; different timing, different circumstances for us all—but no one else can come to that knowledge for you.

    Happy for you and your epiphany. So grateful for the peace the gospel brings if we let it.

  4. I loved this. Ditto what Jeannie said and what Jenny said about realizing there is NOTHING Christ can’t handle. Learning to trust him, that he really is all about what is best for us now AND in the future can be hard but so freeing. So good for you!

  5. I think we all have things in our life that we cling to that the Savior wants us to hand across. Thank you for sharing so beautifully.

  6. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve been thinking a lot about how often I cling to things that aren’t healthy and what it can mean to let the Savior take them. I’m astounded at how hard it can be to do sometimes, though.

    Such a heartfelt, beautiful essay. Thank you again.

  7. Heather, well done! You tell your story so beautifully that it becomes immediately OUR story and makes me want to just hug you. So, HUGS to you from across the sea.

  8. I want to be silent. This essay deserves a sort of reverent acknowledgment.

    But, on the other hand, you deserve a standing ovation for your courage (all the way through your young life, up to and including this post) for your faith, and just for your own sweet self.

    God bless you. Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Thank you for sharing what was behind the nose ring. When we look at the burdens of others too often we think getting rid of something is as easy as handing it over. It’s not. That’s one step in the process, often the only one others notice. The other hard work is ongoing, and usually involves times where we want that thing we handed to Christ back, if for nothing more than familiarity. Its scary to walk around without it while at the same time freeing. The inner work you have done and are doing mean so much more than that nose ring. Prayers and hugs to you in this journey to regain your soul as you give these things to Christ. We’re all in that process somewhere, even if its not as obvious as the nose on our face ;)

  10. I wish I could say something really sublime here. That is how your story made me feel. Thank you for sharing and God bless you on your journey.

    Glenn

  11. I loved this too, and I agree with Jeannie. I love that you never felt pressured to make a choice to remove your nose ring by those around you, and that when you made the choice, it was prompted by your love for the Savior and your willingness to let him shoulder the burden you’ve been carrying. Thank you for making me consider why I think some of my burdens are too big for him to manage…

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