Watching him sleep, with his hand relaxed on the pillowcase, I see the ring. Almost 17 years ago, that ring was picked out and purchased at Sam’s Club, of all places. We were young, barely in our 20s, with no idea of what our futures would look like. But we loved each other, and he asked, and I said yes.
My first memory of loving him was in first grade. The snow was pouring down that day, and as our 45-minute van ride to school progressed, no other kids from our class were showing up at their pick-up stops. Just maybe, I began to hope, no one else will show up and we would be the only two in class with no one taking his attention away from me.
It happened. For that day, it was just the two of us, working puzzles together with our teacher. I had never seen anyone work a puzzle as fast as him. Just one more thing I added to the list of what I loved about him.
Fast-forward through the next 14 years, after happiness, break-ups, tears, I’m sorrys, and I love yous, I was walking down the orange carpet of my church in my much-too-poofy-for-my-short-self dress to say I do for now and forever.
Since that day, that simple ring on his finger has been with us through some better, and through some worse. And it’s still there.
That ring was on his hand as we signed papers to buy our home, the home we still live in today.
That ring was on his hand as we relaxed in Cancun, and as we came back home and took a pregnancy test, finding out we were going to have a baby. That ring was there as he was holding my hand through the pain of labor, and then as he held our son for the first time.
The ring was on his hand as we waited happily in the exam room getting an ultrasound done of our next pregnancy, and as he held my hand when the tech said she wasn’t able to find a heartbeat.
The ring was on his hand as he let me cry over an awful paint job with some fancy new denim technique I had tried in Noah’s new room to make space for a nursery we would no longer need.
That ring was on his hand as he taught Noah to ride a bike without training wheels, through Noah’s tears and frustrations. But Noah mastered it, just as he knew he would.
The ring was on his hand as I nearly ended our marriage. The hardest and darkest days, when he could have easily left, and had every right to. But he never took his ring off, and that ring was on his hand as he said he wasn’t giving up on us.
The ring was on his hand as I cried tears asking for his forgiveness over tortilla soup at Max & Erma’s.
That ring was on his hand through job changes, the deaths of his father and of my mother, school plays, soccer games, date nights, vacations, home improvements, prayers at the altar and at bedtime with our boy.
These 17 years have seen some better and some worse. The ring, though warped, scratched and scuffed, represents every moment since the day we said I do, and all the moments we still have left. It is beautiful.
Our story, with it’s own scratches and scuffs, is even more beautiful. It’s ours and even with it’s imperfections, it tells so much. Rather than bringing guilt and shame, the scratches and scuffs of our story remind me of love, forgiveness, healing, restoration, grace.
And what a beautiful picture of the love of God, who transforms all of our stories in the same way. My heavenly Father offers me that love, forgiveness, healing, restoration, and grace, sweetly handing it to me when I deserve it least.
If you have failed our Father, please know He loves you still, and He’s waiting for you to come back to Him. He doesn’t offer guilt, but heaping measures of grace instead. Please don’t wait any longer. Run to Him. You won’t regret it.
“…I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” (NIV)
– Jeremiah 31:3
Thanks, babe, for being such a good example of the grace-giving love of Jesus.