“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
1 Peter 4:8
Today I have been married to the love of my life for 25 years. I do not feel old enough to have been married this long. God has been so good to both of us – truly we are compatible in nearly all ways. The most meaningful of those is that we are both trying to be on the path to God and His kingdom, and we are trying to raise our three fantastic children in that way.
There are many stories of thanksgiving about my marriage that I could tell on this wonderful day. But the one that always stands out to me is our ring story.
First I have to say that after our first date I called one of my best friends to say that I had met the man I would marry. We got engaged exactly one year after our first date. Before we got engaged he asked me to go look at rings and then he would go the store later to see what I liked. It turns out what I like is VERY expensive. He asked me to go look again with a lower price point in mind. I did and apparently those choices were still too expensive (hey, I know what i like!). So we agreed that maybe we should go to the diamond district in New York to look at rings together to find a ring that I liked and he could afford.
The night we got engaged my love gave me a brand new coffee maker with an IOU note for a ring inside the coffee pot. The coffee maker was meaningful to us because we met in AA, and boy do you drink a lot of coffee when you are getting sober! We planned the trip to New York to pick out a ring. But he did mention that his mother had given him a family ring years ago, and that we should look for it at his parents’ Virginia house before making the trip to New York. There was a catch. The guest house where the ring was stored had burned to the ground a couple of years before.
Now I secretly thought this was a really stupid plan, but I went along. We got to his parents’ farm and went to the pile of rubble that was the guest house. He seemed to be very determined and was looking with intense concentration. ( His mother had been looking for jewelry in those ashes for 18 months and had not found anything other than small fragments.) I on the other hand was quickly bored with the whole scene and went to play catch with Jake the black lab – a much more fun way to spend the afternoon. After about an hour he started yelling “I found it, I found the ring!”
The first thing out of my mouth was “nuh-uh.” Typical of me. The ring looked shockingly awful. It resembled a big, ugly man’s school ring. I couldn’t believe this was the ring he had been looking for. But he knew it would clean up well and so off he went to clean it up with a tooth brush and some soap. It started to look better and I became hopeful.
We got back to Richmond and took it to a jewelry store whose jeweler couldn’t believe it had survived the fire. The setting was completely intact. Some of the small stones had fallen out but they were easy to replace. They soaked the ring in acid for two weeks to remove the soot. When we picked it up I could not believe my eyes. It was stunning!!!
The lesson of this story is not that I was a greedy, spoiled girl who needed to grow up (although all of that is true). The lesson is that from fire and ashes amazing things can survive and flourish. My husband and I met in AA and were both healing from hurt and pain. From that place of suffering we found healing through sobriety, fellowship and the beginnings of a relationship with God. My engagement ring is a sign of God’s love for us, a sign that He can bring beauty and joy from suffering and pain. Thank you God for your signs and gifts that show us how much you love us.
I am immensely thankful today for my wonderful husband of 25 years. I am thankful for his unconditional love and support, his companionship, his leadership and his love for God. I am thankful for the three children that God has entrusted to our care. I am thankful that as a family we can worship together and learn about God together. I look forward to another 25 years of walking the faith walk with my best friend. Hand in hand we walk towards Him who is the lover of our souls, who is eternal, and who is BEING itself.