(Español: El Anillo)
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)