it's just a ring

If you saw that and thought it was a wedding ring, you're not alone.

But no, calm yourself, I didn't get married. And I'm not engaged, either. It's a True Love Waits ring.

This simple silver band has been on my finger since I was thirteen. I took it off around my 20th birthday, but only because I was gaining so much weight, it was growing painfully tight and cutting off circulation. You can imagine my excitement when two years ago, as those pounds started coming off, the ring fit once again. I haven't taken it off since. Until today.

Yesterday afternoon, a co-worker and I were walking out of the school together. As I held the door open for her, these foreign words found my ears: "I didn't know you were married, Nurse Jennifer."

I stopped and stared at the woman, rather dumbly, I suppose. But my clueless expression didn't matter, because she wasn't looking at my face. I followed her gaze to my left hand, which remained glued to the open door. A flash of silver caught my eye. My ring. "Oh. No, I'm not married."

Her eyes met mine for a second, just long enough to display her confusion, before they shifted back down to my ring.

"Oh, um, that's nothing," I stammered. "It's just a ring."

"Just a ring, huh?" she repeated, sounding doubtful.

I felt my cheeks growing warm. "Yeah." With that, I stepped onward and quickly changed the subject to the lovely weather we were having.

For the rest of the afternoon, that brief exchange consumed my thoughts. I felt such guilt. Conviction. And I knew why. I was too ashamed to tell the truth, to admit to someone that at 25 years old, I still wear a purity ring.

I hate that. I hate that my purity embarrasses me, that fessing up to it feels like coming out of the closet. I hate that our profane culture makes me feel this way. I hate that I brushed off her question and called the most meaningful piece of jewelry I own "just a ring."

And I also hate that because of that conversation, I've moved the ring from my left hand to my right. It's practically invisible over there. It's just a ring.

But that's all it ever has been. Just a cheap little piece of sterling silver. It never had any magical powers; it's never been more than a symbol. In all actuality, the reason I bought it for myself all those years ago had nothing to do with sex. I never signed a True Love Waits pledge, promising to "save" myself for my future husband (Although that's still the plan, in case you were concerned.). The real story behind my ring is too much to explain to such a casual inquirer.

As a thirteen-year-old browsing through a Family Christian Bookstore, scouring the shelves for any Plus One merchandise I didn't already own, I came across these tiny, elegant black velvet pouches for $19.95. Each pouch contained a minimalistic silver ring with the words "True Love Waits" engraved upon them. While most people read it as "True love have sex", I read it as "True love waits...for you". True love awaits. What a beautiful promise!

And my cheesy-romance-loving, daydreaming-like-Anne-of-Green-Gables self instantly visualized an incredibly handsome man in a tux gently removing that ring from my finger at the altar and replacing it with a wedding band. A custom wedding band with these three perfect words etched inside: "True love waited."

I bought the ring that day and put it on with a little private ceremony. I made a pact with God, promising that I would trust Him to bring an amazing man in my life in my future, and that in the meantime, I would wait patiently as I grew in Him. That's when I began to pray for my future husband every day. I wrote letters to him. Songs about him. I had no idea who he was, where he was, or when we might find each other, but the ring on my finger meant that he was out there. That he was waiting for me somewhere in the future.

As dramatic and corny as all of that might be, these thoughts have guided me over the years. A glance at my ring has talked me out of dating guys I knew weren't right for me. Those words, True Love Waits, have reminded me not to settle, but to wait for the right person. My true love.

I couldn't share all of that with the random co-worker as we walked out the door. I couldn't bring myself to speak up then, and I still wouldn't want to do it today. I'm wearing the ring on my right hand now to prevent further awkwardness. Am I doing so out of shame or embarrassment? Somewhat. Does it make me feel guilty? A little.

So I keep reminding myself of one thing. It's okay. It's just a ring.


Regine Karpel said...

God Bless you

Lacey said...

The thought of it being "just a ring" is exactly why I never got a true love waits ring. As my Christian peers around me were signing the "pledge" and slipping on their rings, I realized that I was one of the only ones who wasn't doing that. I had already committed to waiting, so I didn't think it necessary to make a huge deal out of it by wearing a ring. I just wonder at the whole idea of a TLW right. Why don't we wear rings symbolizing our commitment to abstain from drunkenness, lying, or jealousy?

Anyway, I understand your reasoning for feeling guilt. I face that too... I sometimes don't know how to voice my beliefs and that's something I've been exploring more lately. I think we'll figure it out :)

Jessica said...

I agree with you and Lacey makes a great point ^^. I had a purity ring that I bought at WOL camp, it just said purity on it. A generic True Love Waits ring, if you will...haha. But I stopped wearing it because of embarrassment...(It was also like 3 sizes too big but they didn't have my size. Plus I later lost the ring...I wonder where in the world it is now?)

Anna Marie Schaefer said...

In my family the tradition was that Dad gave each of us a unique ring when we turned 13, and asked us to make a promise of purity. It was probably my first piece of "real" jewelry. I wore mine every day for the next five years, until I lost it (the ring, not the purity) while on the job at Firehouse. In the end, of course, it was the promise, not the jewelry, that mattered. Like you say, it's just a ring. I never did wear mine on the left hand, though.

It was especially wonderful to say "yes" to David's proposal knowing that he knows I waited. And again, at our wedding, and again on the honeymoon. And, really, every single day since. It really changes everything.