This past weekend, Serena Williams, considered by many to be the best tennis player in the world, suffered a stunning defeat at the US Open. What made the loss to the phenomenal Naomi Osaka all the more hurtful to many was the fact Williams was disrespected by the chair umpire and fined $17,000. After the match, Williams did something that showed how you choose to respond to life’s pressures can determine whether you stay a lump of coal or transform into a diamond.
In preparing to write this column, I found out a few interesting things about diamonds. They start as pure crystallized carbon and are the hardest known substance. The diamond making process takes place miles beneath the earth and results in the diamond’s unique shape. Also, diamonds are mentioned in the scriptures in Ezekiel as being a part of the high-priest’s breastplate. The word “diamond” comes from a French word that also means adamant and unyielding.
It’s ironic how something that is so tough because of what it has been through is valued as one of the most precious jewels in the world. The diamond starts off as a piece of carbon or coal. It is because of it having to withstand so much pressure over time that it is valued. Does your value increase when you experience pressure or you use energy trying to “understand” your circumstances and why you are going through them that you remain a lump of coal? In my own recent life’s transitions, I’ve found that I received the most support when dealing with difficulties from those who themselves had gone through the same process. They encouraged me to look ahead to potential gains in my future rather than spend time on losses of the past. They did as Proverbs 27:17 says: As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of a friend.
I have one friend, in particular, who once told me that since I was a “strong black woman” he knew I could withstand the pressures that I was experiencing. When I told him that I was having a hard day emotionally, he took a moment and listened to me. He then replied that he wasn’t going to let me get weak. At first, I was hurt by his response but I eventually appreciated how he instinctively knew that strength was what I needed at the time to stay strong….and willingly provided it. Serena did the same when she hugged and spoke words of encouragement to the emotionally drained Osaka after the match. In that moment, Serena showed the lessons she learned over the years of dealing with pressure.
In the diamond’s development, it is shaped by the seemingly unending pressure of natural elements. Likewise, rather than allowing the seemingly chaotic drama in our lives to keep us ragged and rough, the Lord will place people in our lives who will apply similar pressure to ensure that we don’t take a detour from our paths of maturity….and miss out on becoming diamonds.
Shewanda Riley is a Dallas, Texas based author of “Love Hangover: Moving from Pain to Purpose After a Relationship Ends” and “Writing to the Beat of God’s Heart: A Book of Prayers for Writers.” Email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @shewanda.