You know the type all too well. Bitter. Haggard. Resentful. A lonely man spewing his personal brand of gloom and pessimism to anyone unfortunate enough to cross his path. I knew a man like this. He lived near the shore. One day, in spite of his complaints, God had compassion on him. He summoned one of his dearest angels and said, “This man, this child of mine, petitions me for riches and wealth—every day grumbling over his lot.” The angel listened intently for the Lord’s command. “Meet him on his way home from work so that it goes well with him.” And in instant the angel left the Lord’s presence.

Now the man was tired and on his way home from what he considered to be a hard, long day of work—trudging along, complaining to the Lord as he did everyday. Suddenly, he saw a bright light before him. Brighter than anything he’d ever seen. He heard a voice clearly although he couldn’t make out the person’s face. “This is for you,” the voice thundered and almost immediately the man’s left hand opened to receive the gem being placed in it. “The Lord has heard you,” the voice rumbled with authority. “Be mindful of what you’ve received,” he said. “Cherish it, value it and handle it with care. Do not be harsh with it. Protect it and it will retain its beauty. It will bring you good and not evil all the days of your life.”

The man was elated. He vowed to do everything just as the angel had instructed. And in a flash, the angel was gone. Each day the man would work with his nose pressed to the grindstone focusing on nothing except the time he’d be able to go home and take care of his gem. Day after day, year after year, he’d work hard, return home and then behold his gem for hours—protecting it, caring for it, polishing it until it shone more brightly than the day before. His family, friends and co-workers complimented the change in him. He had purpose and was happy.

It wasn’t long before the man began to notice other men and the quality and size of their gems. Soon, his gem wasn’t good enough. God made a mistake, he thought. It wasn’t large enough and it didn’t sparkle like others he’d seen. The man swore the gem had lost its value—although it never changed and was the same it had always been. “I do not want you!” The man railed. He looked at the gem—hatred boiling in his eyes. He was resentful of all the time he’d spent with it. He’d grown weary of being with the gem each day, polishing it, caring for it, and keeping it safe.

“I know what I will do!” he exclaimed jolted by a fresh plan. He grabbed the gem and ran out of the house. Panting for breath, with his legs languishing beneath him, he pushed on until he reached the edge of the city where the dump was located. “There!” He spotted the perfect place to discard of it. He would leave it on the ground where a truck was about to drop its next load of refuse. He tossed the gem in the hole and laughed uncontrollably at its untimely fate. No one would ever find the stupid, gem again. Now things will be easier, he thought. He’d tell people he lost it and no one would ever ask him about it again. He was free to seek and pray for another blessing—one that would require less work.

Years later, a man, once frivolous and a partner to folly, now humble and righteous in the sight of the Lord, got lost on his way home from a tremendous banquet. He closed his eyes in prayer. “Lord,” he called, “I am lonely, yet do not complain. The little you’ve given me, I give in your name. If it is thy will for me to be lost, let me wander for your glory and help those I encounter worst off than I.”

When the humble man opened his eyes he was at the edge of the city in front of the dump’s entrance. Now the man knew the way to his home was just beyond the other side of the dump and he thanked the Lord for his mercy and guidance. The man stood before the dump and considered his options. He could walk around the dump ensuring his clothes wouldn’t be damaged by the stench of his surroundings, or, he could walk through it. The man thought of all the time he’d already squandered at the banquet and began his journey through the refuse.

The man plodded along rubbing his hands together for warmth. Yet, soon he became cold and tired. He decided he’d use the rubbish in the trash heaps to stay warm. Many ideas danced in his head. He could make a small fire, use some of the paper for covering, or dig a tunnel of at the mountain’s base for shelter. In the morning, after he got some rest, he’d finished his trek through the dump.

He began to kick and remove garbage from the mountain of trash before him. He kicked and then clawed, and then used his hands to burrow a tunnel where he would be safe for the night.  And then, there it was. Right underneath some of the rubbish he’d dug up with his hands—a gem like none he’d ever seen. He used his shirt to rub off the refuse and dirt. It was stained, and chipped, but the man did not care. Although he wasn’t sure of its value, he was thankful as he believed it was a gift from the Lord. He was convinced the Lord was demonstrating his love for him and telling him he hadn’t been forgotten.

The man leapt for joy, praising God with every breath. His praise was so fervent, that when he finished leaping, he was at the other side of the dump and only steps away from the dump’s exit. Rejuvenated with the joy of the Lord, he clutched the gem tightly in his hand and ran all the way home. The next morning, the humble man, fearful of misusing what God had given him and determined to take whatever time he needed to discover its value, went to the town square to have the gem appraised.

The appraiser couldn’t believe the man had found such a valuable crystal and appraised it higher than all the jewels in the land. When word spread throughout the town, people came from near and far to get a glimpse of the jewel—even the previous owner. When the humble man looked out of his window and saw the line stretched for many miles beyond his door, an idea popped in his head. He would charge each person a fee to glimpse the most beautiful jewel in the land. The people continued to come and the humble man continued to care for, cherish and protect his gem, refusing to sell it and he became renowned for his wisdom and astounding wealth.

Maybe you have been undervalued, underrated, underestimated, inaccurately appraised, or written off. When we enter this world we are told whose family we belong to and the name to which we must answer. And then, as time goes on, many of us seize the opportunity to decide who and what we will be in this life on our own terms—and for many of us those terms end and begin with a relationship with the Most High and a Savior named Jesus Christ. If you are anything like me, you have seized this opportunity and choose to be a Thirty-one Bae. More specifically, a Proverbs 31 woman—a Believer Achieving Excellence. We are rare, and we are precious. We are difficult to find and not easily identified. Our maker intentionally created us this way. For in order to know us, and truly love us, one must be wise, astute and equipped with a keen eye capable of discerning the uniqueness, subtleties and nuances that make us more precious than rubies and when compared to other women, no matter how noble, we surpass them by far. Be encouraged rare gem and do not be fooled. Those ordained to see your worth and your beauty will see you and know. And as you stand in the truth of who God created you to be, they will treat you accordingly.