Maternity leave and seemingly endless hours trapped under a nursing baby have afforded me some time to think about things I haven’t thought about in a while. One of those things is my other wedding ring.
That’s not what it probably sounds like. Mike absolutely is the only man mad enough to have married me, and I’m not quite ditzy enough to have lost one ring and had to replace it with another, or at least not yet.
No, my other wedding ring is a symbol of my commitment to God, and I started wearing it around this time eight years ago. I had got into my head that I was meant to be one of the unmarried women who are “anxious about the affairs of the Lord” that Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7, and although I never felt pulled as far as the convent, I did want something to serve as a visible reminder of this sense of call and relationship.
At around the same time, I came across these words from Hosea 2:19-20: And I will take you for my wife forever; I will take you for my wife in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy. I will take you for my wife in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord. Hosea is a difficult book with some troubling imagery, but in the midst of all of that, these words seems to shine like a beacon on a hill, or ring out as clear as a bell.
That promise of righteousness and justice and love and mercy and faithfulness seemed so beautiful, and that image of betrothal struck a chord deep within me, and so I decided that the reminder I was looking for should be a wedding ring.
My mum offered me the eternity ring that my dad bought her when I was born, and I started to wear it not on the fourth finger of my left hand, but on the index finger of my right hand, which is the finger that Jewish women traditionally wear their wedding rings on. Perhaps I wanted to avoid confusing strangers who might assume I was married in the more conventional sense, or perhaps I knew somewhere deep down that I still needed to leave space for another wedding ring.
Either way, for me it was a sign of a covenantal relationship with God. If a covenant is an agreement, God’s side was already written in the scriptures and in my testimony, and so I wrote my side in the form of a series of vows. I must confess that I hadn’t read them for some time before writing this blog, but I am pleasantly surprised to realise that most of them are like threads which have woven themselves into my life. Of course there are snags and pulls in the tapestry, and I could definitely improve my needlecraft, but a picture of relationship is emerging from them.
I met Mike within a year of making those vows and choosing that ring, and soon realised that God had kept his promise to bless me in most spectacular if unexpected fashion, that I could still be “anxious about the affairs of the Lord” while in relationship with another, that here was someone who could help me keep those vows and hold me accountable to them. In fact, when I was baptised six years ago I gave a copy of those promises to Mike and asked him to do just that, and on our wedding day we sang ‘Be Thou My Vision’ so that our commitment to one another was entwined with our commitment to God.
And so that is the story of how I came to have two wedding rings.
I apologise if it feels entirely selfish of me to take up this blog with something so personal, but I believe I can speak most meaningfully out of my own experience, and so I offer this reflection in the hope that it may lead you to reflect on your own relationship with the one who would betroth you in righteousness and justice and love and mercy and faithfulness.