The year was 1998, and Chad Edgington had decided he wanted to marry me. He scrimped and saved and schemed to buy a little diamond, and he delivered it, delicately, to a pair of brothers he knew in Nashville who were jewelry makers. He had a vision for what he wanted it to look like, and he left his words of instruction and his precious, hard-fought diamond in their care to wait and see what they would create.
The result was a never before like it or after it, truly unique, hand-crafted golden ring. It is beautiful. And, I have always felt like its unique beauty is a fair representation of the love that I have had for this boy for the past twenty years of my life.
The truth is that most days I hardly even notice the ring on my hand. But, a few days ago I looked down and realized that somehow in the course of my work, my ring had gotten knocked against my finger and had left a small cut there, hidden underneath the beautiful gold, a scar on the delicate-looking redhead’s fair flesh of my left hand. I was surprised to see it there, because in all of these years of dealing with babies and a mother’s work, I never remember my ring doing such a thing. But, there it was. A wound inflicted by the very symbol of never-ending love between a man and a woman.
I sat there for a moment and stared at my hand. It didn’t look compatible, the lovely gold set alongside the ugly gash on my freckled finger. But, I don’t know that I have ever seen a clearer picture of how marriage is an exquisitely painful, sacred journey of sanctification. Having a spouse is like living with a mirror that constantly shows you where you are weak, where you are prideful, and how in desperate need of a Savior you really are. Chad and I never could have known, all those years ago when he slipped this ring on my finger, how much joy would really be in it or how much heartbreak. Jesus put a rare love in our hearts for one another, and He has used that love to wound us in the most wondrous ways. Ways that show us who we are and who we want to be. Ways that show us how likely our hearts are to falter. Ways that show us how great His love for us really is.
The mark on my finger is almost healed now. Soon it will go away, and all that will remain is the freckles and the gold and diamond that a young idealist once scrimped and sacrificed to gift to me. For half of our lives now we have loved and hurt and grown and agonized together. And still, we are idealists. Because we have learned in this life together that God can do what seems impossible. He can take two kids who only know that they are madly in love, and He can teach them how to sanctify one another, one wound at a time. He can use great pain to bring indescribable joy. He can bind up every hurt with His love and tenderness. And, He can use every scar to show the world how great He really is.
The ring on my finger is so much more than a piece of jewelry. It is hurt. It is healing. It is sacrifice and sanctification. And, it is a testimony to godly love. Marriage is the gospel in motion. We are forever changed.