One of the joys I get from working as an author and as an educator is that I am able to impart knowledge, wisdom, and sound advice to young people on a daily basis. In a recent “session” with my students, I had the opportunity to use one of my favorite analogies for perseverance – being refined like gold in the fires of life. I used this analogy when trying to explain to my students that as we experience setbacks and disappointments we must see it as if we are being refined by fire, just like gold being purified and tested.
Refining gold by fire is an ancient technique that has since been found less “time efficient” although still one of the surest ways of purifying gold from earth. Many writers, bloggers, and spiritual leaders have used this imagery of gold refining to symbolize or explain how God strengthens the will and soul of a person through trials in life. One such author, June Hunt, put it best in her article/blog “God’s Refining Process” (found at http://www.hopefortheheart.org/march-2015-gods-refining-process).
While my explanation to my students was more academic in nature, I did explain a few basic tenets about being like refined gold. Here are a few points I made to my students that other authors or educators have also noted in past writing:
- We all reach a point where we are broken and need mending. In the gold refining stage, this brokenness is akin to raw gold being drawn from the earth in its crudest form – dirty, discolored, ugly (for lack of a better word). In life, this can be seen as hitting rock bottom, or reaching our wit’s end. You define it how you wish, but you get the idea.
- We need help in reshaping or re-forming what we have become into something we once were or into something better than we thought possible. Refiners of precious metal call this the “Crucible” stage, where all our broken pieces that are still usable are placed into a melting point where we can be recreated into something different, or made anew. For a person, this could be entrusting our care to someone who can gather those pieces together so that nothing is lost. This “crucible” is the holding cell that is put to the fire for melting or purifying.
- When we are being changed, sometimes a lot of the bad stuff comes out and we have to choose to get rid of these or risk remaining sullied along with the rest. Refiners would say that this is getting rid of the “dross” or the impurities that rise to the surface once the fires push them to the surface. In life, this means that we may discover that those “friends” who said they would be there for us are actually the reason we are in this mess to begin with. We then have to choose to cut those ties loose, or continue to be tarnished by the dross that holds onto impurities or imperfections.
- We experience more loss if we choose the let go of those impurities noted in #3, which in essence means we go through even more fire – the fires of loneliness. In gold and silver refining, this is known as the purification process. We are able to see the gold or silver a little more clearly now that the impurities are taken away. This leaves room for the last and final stage of gold/silver refining…
- We discover our true self – and have emerged from the fires as a stronger, more secure, and purified version of ourselves. This is the final stage of metal refining – the reflection. When the refiner is able to see clearly the reflection of him or herself looking back from the metal, that gold or silver has been purified. In life, this may mean we have come to a greater awareness and appreciation for our true self. It can also mean that we are stronger in our self-esteem, our self-value, and ultimately in how we value all people around us. We are enlightened, we recognize the Divine Presence in each person we encounter, we are ONE with life and living.
In Book Four of my book series, The Last Prophet, Uriel’s Light, one of the issues our main character deals with is social martyrdom – the death of her reputation, a reputation she spent many years building up in her career. This is a form of “refining” and trials that not only burn, but have lasting impact and emotional/psychological scars. Although the main character is the one who experiences the effects of this martyrdom most, all those who care about her certainly feel the impact on their relationship with her and how they conduct their day-to-day business. How a person handles the “refining” process, the trials and pain that come with it all, defines their next steps. This was a pearl of wisdom I had hoped to impart to my students when I had my session with them earlier last week. I wanted each of them to become like purified gold that withstood the test of fire. It is difficult to be a young person in society today with so many temptations and stereotypes and negative expectations being hurled at them at record speed. I would blame technology and the rise of the “entitlement” as a mindset, but ultimately WE are all responsible for creating that monster. It was and still is my hope for my students and for my readers that they will eliminate the “dross” and live through the “purification” of their own gold until they can confidently look into that reflection and see something beautiful has arisen from the fire.
What about you? What stage of the “refining” process have you reached? Have you held onto the “dross” or have you scooped it away and discarded it? How close are you to seeing the purified reflection? Please comment in the space provided.
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