The diamond fell out of my engagement ring. It was a little over half a carat, the highest quality they sold at the nicest jewelry store in the mall seventeen years ago. My boyfriend was 20 and as he waited for them to draw up the paperwork they offered him a Coke and they poured it carefully over ice on the glass case in front of him on a small square ivory napkin. Or at least that’s how I imagine it, that precious boy handing every dollar he had and a bunch of dollars he didn’t to the skeptical woman with hair knotted in a careful bun sporting cat eye glasses and perfect fingernails.
When my mother saw the ring she said it was too big.
When I saw it, perfect and round, my eyes darting between this extravagant gift and the beautiful, nervous man kneeling at my feet, I thought, he really does love me, this man I’ll be with as long as I live.
I took the ring with me back to college but had to hide it away in a box in a sock in the drawer of my dresser. Tradition dictated that girls announced engagements at secretive candlelighting ceremonies, the ring placed on a lit candle and passed around a room of oohing and ahhing girls until one lucky girl blew the candle out and the whole room swarmed with hugs and high-pitched congratulations. At my candlelighting I remember the ring looking spectacular. Simple, sparkly, real. Justin wrote a letter to me for my friend to read in front of all those gathered girls, a letter about how much he loved me and how much he wanted to be married. He said using words to describe it was like rowing a boat in the ocean with a toothpick. And I wanted to get married right then.
I’d wear that ring for the entire seven months of our engagement. I didn’t take it off to shower or do dishes. I wore it to Lloyd Auditorium for chapel, staring at the way the lights hit it and made prisms. I wore it to play softball with my girlfriends, wiping dirt off it between innings. I wore it during final exams, dreaming of a honeymoon in Mexico and furnishing an apartment. I wore it swimming in the ocean, waves lifting me and crashing down on my head, salt leaving stains on the band. I wore it at my parents’ house, my house for only a few weeks longer, and stared at it longingly as my mom reminded me of curfew. Wherever I was, the ring went with me, reminding me of the man who loved me and wanted to be with me forever.
And now it’s lost, probably swept up in the trash at Planet Fitness.
This past week, visiting family in Florida for spring break, I heard a preacher talk about the Spirit as a “deposit,” referred to by Paul in 2 Corinthians chapters 1 and 5. Here’s what Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:1-5 …
“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling… so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
In 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 Paul says, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.”
The idea is that here on this earth, waiting for a heavenly dwelling, groaning in anticipation of the day when death is swallowed by life, we humans need proof that God’s promises are reliable, that the day really is coming. The proof is the Spirit.
The preacher said, you can think of the Spirit like an engagement ring, a gift and a promise. I looked down at my ring-free hand and thought how perfect the image was and how much I needed the Spirit to get me through this long engagement with Christ.
Do you ever wonder if God loves you? Ever wonder if He’s coming back for you? Do you wonder if this new creation thing is ever going to happen? Do you sometimes wonder if hope (capital H Hope) is a fool's errand? I do. I wonder all the time. But when I wonder it’s the Spirit that assures me. The Spirit, like an engagement ring I can’t help looking at over and over, a ring I never take off, is proof I’m loved, proof I’m getting married, proof of a promise of forever.
That means when I question my Betrothed, I read the Spirit-authored Word of God and am reminded of His promises (and the many, many times He's kept them before). It means, when I wonder if being with God is worth the wait, I see the transformation happening in my heart right now and am reminded of the power of this relationship to make something more of me. It means when I pray to my Groom, so far away, the Spirit clears the static between us, helping me be heard and helping me feel heard too.
Because of the Spirit of God, the Spirit bearing fruit in me, I can look at the goodness and gentleness and joy and love blooming on my limbs, like a sparkling diamond on a left index finger, and be assured, the day is coming when I’ll be with my Love forever, never to part--not even by life-swallowed death.
It’s been a month or so since I lost the ring. Maybe two months. My finger is still bare. I thought it would make me sad, not having that proof of love so close and radiant. But I’m okay.
Last night, lying beside my husband in bed, our legs tangled, our voices lost in laughter, not two but one, I looked at my hand, rubbing his back, later held in his hand, and I thought how lovely and important that ring was then but how entirely unnecessary it is now, marriage not a promise but a reality, love and intimacy the air we breathe.
I’m married now. Justin came to get me and be with me, to bring me home to a new place, to share all of himself with me--just as he said he would. All the engagement ring promised has been fulfilled.
One day Christ will come and I, along with so many of you, will be dressed like a bride to meet her groom. I’ll be united with Christ in a physical, intimate, permanent way. I will dwell in His house as His bride and never again groan for what’s coming because what’s coming will have come and it will be lovely.
I can’t wait for that. And I can, too.
But only because of the Spirit.