My mother handed me the ring with a deep grin that punctuated the significance of the gift. It was a tiny ring, just right for my 7-yr-old finger. “This is a REAL diamond,” she said, handing me the tiny fraction of a karat in a size 4 band. She explained that she had bought the ring before I was born and saved it for when I was old enough to wear it. I could hardly believe she would allow me to hold it – much less have it in MY size! I thanked her and felt that special warmth in my heart my tomboyish buffalo skin normally tried to repel. I headed out to play.
“Tether ball” was a favorite sport of mine. The two-person game involved standing on either side of a pole that had one ball tethered to it from the top. One would hit the ball clockwise, while his opponent tried to hit it counterclockwise with greater force. As the opponents smacked the ball, it gained potential for more height. My trick was to hit it with strength at the angle to send it just out of my opponent’s reach, elliptically landing back within my reach so I could send it in the same pattern again the next time around. The game increased speed as the tether shortened, wrapping around the pole, until the tether was tightened to the last inch, proclaiming the winner.
It was at the end of such a game in the neighbors’ backyard when I realized that the ring I had possessed for less than 24 hours was gone. I searched below the pole, combing the grass with my fingers to no avail.
Heart-broken, and mad at myself, I couldn’t help but think that maybe I should have been “a good little girl” playing with dolls or makeup like other girls instead – then I would not have lost the ring. I sinfully didn’t tell my mother about the loss, because I figured it would take her a few weeks to notice, and that would sound better than, “I lost it in the first 24 hours.”
“Besides,” I thought, “I didn’t want that ring anyway. Who wants something that doesn’t even stay on during tether-ball?!”
It was my nature: when I felt defeated, I would convince myself that whatever I didn’t get (or couldn’t keep) was something I didn’t want anyway. It was easier than admitting I needed to change.
On our tenth wedding anniversary, Chris decided to get me a ring. The buffalo in me liked the idea of a simple anniversary band, with no “annoying stones” to get snagged on my pockets when they warmed my hands. Chris had a different idea.
The solitaire was a diamond to be admired by any passerby. The round cut magnified the colors that only God could place in such a gorgeous gem. Its clarity drew in light, seemingly multiplying it in the reflection with a disco-ball effect on the ceiling of the store, to my embarrassment. “We’ll take it!” Chris said, while I shied away, telling him “no way!” But inside, I felt pretty just being treated as pretty.
The store sized it to fit my finger like a glove, although any glove worth working would not fit on this ring without getting caught. Chris glowed with pride as we traveled to the resort where we were staying that night. We had a beautiful evening celebrating our first decade together, and I wore my ring with pride, almost wanting to point it out to strangers, as I did my engagement ring the night he popped the question in Pittsburgh, PA a decade prior.
I felt loved.
The next morning, I rose early and headed outside to enjoy the sunrise for my quiet time with God. As I recorded the previous evening’s shopping and date in the journal of my mind, a feeling of sadness surrounded me. I felt like a phony. “I don’t even LIKE rings. I forget to put on jewelry that I already have! I am not pretty enough to have people looking at my hands. My nails are chipped; my hands are rough, because I don’t know how to ‘act like a lady.’ I cannot fake this. I am not the jewelry-kind-of-girl. Did he forget who I am? Where I have been? I am not worthy of its cost, much less its beauty!”
As I continued trying to read my Bible, the self-degrading thoughts continued. I started planning how to return the ring, and how I would tell Chris. Tears trickled down my cheeks, thinking about how we would owe the store for the custom sizing, even if they gave us our money back. Regret overcame me as I realized I had worn it the night before as a phony – mesmerized by its sparkle, as if that fit me. The conflict was still vibrant in my heart when Chris awoke and came outside to where I was sitting.
“Are you wearing the ring?!” he excitedly asked as he approached, looking for my hand.
I wiped my eyes and confessed my thoughts to him. “I cannot own a ring like this. I am not meant to wear something so valuable. We need to get it back to the store. Today. We can see if they will give us all our money back, even if we have to pay for the sizing. I’m sorry. I have never had such a tremendous case of buyer’s remorse.”
He stared at me dumbfounded for a split second, then kneeled down on one knee, cupped my face in his hands and said firmly, “We will not take the ring back. You cannot have buyer’s remorse, because you did not buy the ring; I did. It is my gift to you; now stop insulting me.”
He kissed me, as if it were the first time our lips had met.
The tears disappeared from my face. My quickened heart rate sent a cleansing blood through my body. A peace came over me as I realized he loved me so deeply to look beyond what I saw in myself. He didn’t give me the ring because of who I was, but because of who he is.
As I recall that story, another story comes to mind: the one where I say, “I hate myself! Why can’t I be like others? I keep doing wrong. I can’t change. I will never get better. I am worthless!!”
And God gently answers, “I created you. Stop insulting Me. I knitted you to be an original. Your hands are My design. I know the depth of your heart, the chasm of your sins and I sent my Son, Jesus Christ, to take it all. I have a purpose for every strength you have, and for every failure it took to gain that strength. I have a purpose for EVERY weakness you possess, since My strength is made perfect in your weakness. You can’t change, but I can change you. My purposes are greater than your vision. I created you just the way I intended. I bought you for the price of my Son, and I have no remorse. Now stop insulting Me.”
The Gift of Forever
Girlfriend, that eternal salvation is a gift that was bought before you were born to fit you precisely. It is ironic that we cannot have the peace of His gift pumping into our veins until we have the remorse over our sins cleansing the path. No one can comb through the grass to find His gift, and none of us deserves its worth. It is ours because of Who He is, not who we are. He loves us so deeply to look beyond what we see in ourselves. It is amazing that just when we say, “I have such remorse!” He answers, “You can’t; I’m the One who bought you!”
I hope you feel loved, because you are.
I guess I am not a buffalo, or a butterfly or even a buffafly after all. I am a new creature in Christ, and I want His glory to reflect from my life like a disco ball!
God knitted you before you were born. Ps 139:13
His strength is made perfect in my weakness. 2 Cor 12:9
I am a new creature in Christ. 2 Cor 5:17
Salvation is a gift from God, because of who He is, not who we are. Eph 2:8-9
Confess your sins (with remorse) and you will be forgiven. 1 John 1:9
The gift of forever: For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Oh, how I can relate! Always urged by my mother and both grandmothers to “be a lady,” when all I wanted was to ride my bike, play softball (and football, and volleyball), fish and hike. Never feeling “good enough” or “pretty enough” like other girls.
And then, the wondrous realization Abba Father Daddy God loves me for ME, for the me HE created me to be. It took a long time to accept that me, to be comfortable with the me in my skin. God was gracious to help me by sending a song, Matthew West’s “Hello, My Name Is:”
I hope it blesses you and your readers as much as it does me.
Definitely! I love that song, too. Thanks for always encouraging! -Terri
Absolutely beautiful post, Terri! Thank you for blessing us with your gift of sharing God’s word via personal stories/struggles 🙂
Terri – Thank you for this wonderful blog. I read it with tears in my eyes. It touch my heart in such a way. I am currently working on accepting myself (self-image) and these reminders of our gracious Father are just what I needed this morning!
Absolutely beautiful! What a blessing you are Terri! Thanking God for you and for you continuing to “fight the good fight of faith”.
Terri – Thanks for writing. Today, your blog was a confirmation to already answered prayer. And Ii know, I’ve said it before, and I’m honored to repeat it…, you are a blessed and talented woman, a blessing to my life. Please keep writing.
Thanks Terri Brady for sharing this story. This is how I feel n have felt for years. Hearing what you went through n how you over came it is great to hear n know that I shouldn’t feel the way I do. It’s still hard to accept things from people because I feel I owe them something in return. I look forward to reading your letters so keep them coming!
I can’t help but wipe away the tears and I read this. Thank youoso much for being so open and sharing! Lately I have had similar feelings and this post came at the perfect time to remind me, that I’m a child of God, created by him for his works and like you said he makes no mistakes! Thank you dear sister! Beautiful post from your beautiful heart!
Thank you Terri for another wonderful post! I love reading your wisdom! You’re such a blessing and an absolute blinging disco ball for the Lord! Shine on Sister! Love you!
Wow, What an amazing similitude to the Saviors Atonement. Thanks so much Terri
Terri, thanks for sharing a message we all need to be reminded of.
Terri, thank you for the reminder of my worth through the Creator and Redeemer who is worthy. I love the illustration to remember the truth!
As usual, you brought me to tears! Thank you so much for sharing!
One word – AMEN!
Two words = Needed this!
Three words = You are amazing!!!!
Amazing, heart felt, thought provoking, touching, truth… The things that describe your talent in writing! Thank you Terri!
Gifts are not my love language so it’s hard to take them. But we must remember the giver is the special person.
Terri, as always you have touched my heart. You always reflect His light into my life, Thank you!
‘It is ironic we can’t have the peace of His gift pumping into our veins until we have the remorse over our sins cleansing the path…’ Absolutely beautiful and 100% true. Until I see where I’ve been and feel what I’ve done and truly know and believe the peace He brings ill never feel good enough for any of His promises.
Daily a blessing, Terri. Can’t wait until one day I can meet you
Thanks Terri for helping so many people with your words, they make an impact every time I read them. Thanks for the help on this journey.
Terri you’re beautiful inside and out and radiate with His love! Thanks for allowing Him to shine through your writing!
I LOVED this post Terri!! Those thoughts of self-worth and doubt in myself has ALWAYS been a strong negative force in my life!! I NEEDED that honest reminder that ‘my purposes are beyond my vision’ and I AM insulting Him with my thoughts!! Thanks SO much for sharing!
Terri, I was familiar with the ring story but never fully realized the magnitude of it as it relates to our salvation. It really affected me. Thank you for your consistent transparency so that we can be blessed by your wisdom. You weave together such beautiful and powerful illustrations; I am anxiously awaiting to hear from you on AGO! May God continue to bless the seeds you sow…
Terri, thank you so much for these excellent insights. It is fascinating all the experiences we have that bear witness of Christ when we pause to see it. All of creation bears witness of Jesus Christ.
In this post when you wrote “did he forget who I am?” and then listed the feelings of self-hate, I was reminded of the time in my life when I thought “I am stupid, inferior, in adequate, unimportant” were the deepest truths about me. It took me a while, but through the grace of Christ I came to realize that none of those “I am” statements are God’s truth about me. He wanted me to be humble and realize without Christ I am nothing, but with Christ all things are possible to them that believe. Satan wants us to beat ourselves up. To label and define ourselves in the ways that the world does. To identify ourselves by our mistakes, or our success, or our activities, or our profession, or a group of people we hang out with, etc. But who are we really? I think it is interesting in the Lord’s prayer Christ teaches us to begin prayer with, “Our Father who art in Heaven.” God is our Father. That means we are children of our Father in Heaven, children of God. Of all the titles he could ask us to address him by in prayer – like “Almighty ruler of the universe” or “Supreme Being” or “All powerful God” – he simply wants us to call him Father. He made us in his image; I don’t think that just means we look similar. I think the attributes of our Heavenly Father and Christ are within us. We need the mercy of Christ to develop them, but they are there. How could I believe I am made in the image of God and believe I am stupid and inferior? That is an insult to God, and I also had an experience where I felt God saying to me, “Stop insulting me by calling yourself stupid” He is intelligent, so I am intelligent. He is loving, I am loving. He is kind, I am kind, and so on. I am still very imperfect in these qualities, but they are there within me, and every person. That is my true identity (and everyone’s) as a child of God. As I have helped many people with various concerns, I almost always find at the core of the problem – the real core of the problem… the core of the core of the core of the problem 🙂 – is almost always a conflict between who a person has come to believe they are, and the divine part of their spirit which is who they really are and are meant to become.
I hope it is OK to share these thoughts on your blog, once I started typing my fingers just kept going. Thanks for all you do to spread light and love on our planet. God bless you my friend!
Terri, thanks so much for being so transparent and letting us share in your journey. God bless!
I really like the way the story of the ring is told to suggest change …
I really like the way the story of the ring is told to show how others see us, which my differ from our own perception …
Thank you Terri, you brought tears to me eyes as I read it. Though doctrinally we may differ on a couple of things, more importantly we share a gratitude for the love of Christ who is making us better by his atonement.
Thank you for your faith Terri, it will never cease to amaze me how universal is the atonement of the Savior.
Your words brought tears to my eyes as I read this post. You and your husband continue to be a force for good in my life, and for that I am thankful.
Terri your blogs always come at the right time. I needed to hear this today.
Pingback: It’s Not Mine | Letters to Lindsey