It’s not about the ring.

Yesterday was my engage-a-versary. And I know, for all of you party poopers out there you’re going, “Yea that’s not a thing.” But in my house, it is. I will take an excuse for a celebration and my engagement 4 years ago to my amazing husband is certainly reason to celebrate.

The funny thing about engagements is that in our society they tend to center around a diamond. They say “a diamond lasts forever” and that’s certainly true but when I look back at my own engagement I rarely think of the ring. Part of the reason is that he proposed without one. I know, that’s blasphemy in our culture. But before you start jumping to conclusions let me explain.

The ring is always a big deal and under the somewhat unhealthy mentorship we were under at the time it was drilled in to our minds that marriage could not even be a consideration without THE ring. Not just any ring, it had to be one that made a statement about our future and Drew’s financial security. I became enamored with this idea of catchy Instagram posts and all the attention and jealousy that comes with showing off a dazzling diamond. And because I had an incredible man who loved me, he was determined to give me exactly what I wanted. Which brings me to engagement day.

My amazing husband, Drew, already had plans to propose. The ring was ordered and off being sized for my teeny tiny size 4 fingers. He had worked hard and moved heaven and earth to obtain THE ring. The kind of ring that came straight off of my Pinterest board and was just outside of what he could really afford. He strived to get this incredible ring and it was secured. But, as luck would have it, we had to take a last minute trip up to Chicago to visit my family. Chicago is one of my favorite cities and “the bean” in all its architectural weirdness is one of my favorite pieces. Screw his rooftop plans, we were in my favorite city, in my favorite place. Ring be damned! He was going to propose. And he did. And it was magical. I said yes to HIM, not to a ring. But I was blessed with one anyway.

A few years later God started working on my heart as he so graciously does when we have issues we don’t want to wrestle with. We had removed ourselves from authority figures who promoted a lifestyle of “spend spend spend” and “act as if” and were now learning about this magical thing called stewardship… among other things. I was just minding my own business when God popped on the scene and said, “Hey… you know that beautiful ring you wanted? Do you really need it?”

As I looked down at my elegant diamond I realized… no I didn’t really need it. And more than that, it didn’t symbolize my love for my husband. I had created an idol and worn it proudly since my engagement day. I had set up a pedestal of status and worshipped at its rocky face every day I placed it on my finger and flaunted it to the world. No, I didn’t need it. And what was more, I didn’t want it. As I looked down at my ring, just a little ostentatious for my tiny hand, I was disappointed in myself. I don’t even like jewelry much less diamonds. I had allowed the world to dictate my relationship to the point of forcing my husband to spend money he didn’t need to spend to secure a “thing” I didn’t even really want or need.

It’s not really surprising that shortly after that God moved on my heart to replace that ring with a version more suited to my personality. Before you get the wrong idea let me clarify: this whole process I went through alongside my husband. We prayed together, made the decision together, and finally laid aside all preconceived notions of what marital solidarity is supposed to look like in favor of allowing God to show us what His way looked like. It’s amazing the weight that was lifted that day. Sometimes we create gods and idols that we don’t even realize are there because the world has programmed us to think of them as necessities.

My engagement day was incredible. We fought, we cried, he proposed (twice), it was flawed, it was messy, it was imperfect, and it was just like us. When I think back on it I remember it as the perfect day and it had nothing to do with a ring. If you’re in a relationship that’s heading toward marriage… don’t let anyone tell you what things should or shouldn’t look like. Get a diamond, don’t get a diamond. Get down on one knee, don’t get down on one knee. Get an engagement sock for all I care. Solidify your promise to each other in a beautiful way that represents who you are together and what your future is going to look like. And, don’t be surprised if even in your well-intentioned planning God takes all of your ideas and flips them upside down anyway. He’s amazing like that.