I've been engaged to be married twice in my life.
The first time I was a sophomore in college and the groom-to-be decided NOT to-be at the beginning of our senior year. He had proposed with a classic diamond solitaire ring purchased on a payment plan from a jewelry store at the mall. My 19-20 year old self was completely captivated by that ring. I looked at it on my hand constantly. The jewelry store offered to clean your ring for free if you purchased from them and, I can promise you, there was no cleaner ring in Tucson, Arizona from 1994 to 1995. I stopped by that shop every time I was at the mall and had that diamond polished. I loved how it caught the light and sparkled. I still remember the night that he told me I wasn't "the one" for him after all and I remember vividly the moment I took the ring off and handed it back, along with the title of fiance', and walked out the door. My bare finger was a constant reminder of a promise that was no longer a promise.
Fast forward a few years and a few suitors, and you'll see another young man getting down on one knee in an Italian restaurant asking me to be his forever. It wasn't a surprise. Jason and I had been talking about getting married for several weeks and had even gone ring shopping together. When he asked me what type of ring I wanted, I told him, "I don't want a diamond solitaire and I don't want it to come from a jewelry store at the mall." The token of love my first engagement ring represented to a 19 year old girl no longer meant anything to the 23 year old woman I had become. The first ring cost more money than he had, now I wanted only what could be afforded without debt. The first ring was on a yellow gold band, so I wanted something with a silver hue instead. The first ring was all about the diamond, so I wanted anything but that as a focal point. I wanted a promise that was different from the first one offered, so I wanted a distinctly different symbol of that promise as well.
Jason proposed with a perfect ring that we found at an antique store for $300. I never had it appraised and I never will. I'm assuming the gemstones are "real." It doesn't matter to me if they aren't. Because, while I loved that ring, and I gazed at it with great affection, and I kept it polished to a shine in those early years - the ring wasn't what I valued. I valued the kept promise.
Fast forward again over 24 years into the future. We've raised a son together and sent him off into the world. We've made each other laugh hundreds of thousands of times. We've walked through a variety of losses that felt like punches to the gut and left us wondering what the future held. We've seen God work miracles. We've held hands and prayed prayers that made us weep and some that made us giggle. We've cheered each other on. We've gently corrected each other when needed. We've hurt one another by accident and on purpose. We've apologized and asked for forgiveness. We've disagreed about chores, child rearing, money, and far less important things. We've traveled together and stayed home together. We've lived out the promise and we are going to keep right on living it out.
So, while I don't spend a lot of time gazing at my ring (even though I still love it and think it is perfect), I do spend a lot of time marveling over that kept promise and how far it and God have brought us.
Carla Ritz. Proof positive that God uses cracked pots!