I had wonderful opportunity this week, while attending a residential meeting, to spend some significant time in prayer. No phones ringing, no knocks on the door, no interruptions.
During one of my times in prayer, I found myself looking at my ring. Admittedly, I tend to be easily distracted by shiny objects; this time however I focused on the different aspects of my ring.
On the topside, there is a design; Trinity knots side by each with sapphires between. On the bottom, it was made blank. Years of daily wear, however, have left their mark: there are scratches, dents, a bit of dirt was caught on the edge. As I took the ring off for closer inspection I glanced inside the ring, an area I don’t generally look at, and noted the stamp indicating the gold’s quality rating. I know how the ring feels on my hand, I can tell when it has turned, I feel when it is missing.
Life, I reflected, is like that. On the surface, what we present to the world, tends to be like the topside of my ring: pretty, embellished, pleasant. What we keep to ourselves is the imperfect underside, generally kept from mass perusal but still accessible for those willing to look. What we keep ultimately hidden, however, is the stamp on the inside—it would take effort and a bit of movement for people to see that; though the truth of that mark is clear across the ring’s entirety.
While there’s nothing wrong with this, per se, these components are of the same whole. I could not have a ring with only the side presented to the world; likewise the ring would be incomplete with only the marked up bottom side; nor could there be a ring without an inside.
As the ring bearer, I see both external sides as well as the internal. I need all of them, and I recognise them all as important and connected. They are, after all, the same ring. I would not cast away the pretty topside just because of the scratched bottom; I would not further damage the bottom just because the internal stamp doesn’t line up perfectly. I can feel when things fit as intended, or when something seems off or missing.
I think it’s important for us to recognize that our lives are like the ring. We have good days and bad; we make wise decisions and poor; we have attractive qualities and bland ones; we have aspects we would share with the world, those we would share only with those closest to us, and those we keep locked away. We can tell when the wrong side is showing or hidden.
Throughout it all, we can realize that we too are made up of all these sides, what is seen and what is taken for granted and what is forgotten. We know that we are not merely defined by only one aspect of ourselves. Ultimately, we know that the quality of our lives will shine through, no matter what aspect of our lives people are experiencing.
Our invitation then is to recognize who is the bearer for our lives: God. God knows us, our shiny tops and marked up bottoms and hidden stamps; our best and our worst and our deeply hidden; our on times and off times and properly straightened times. God knows us even better than we know our daily worn jewelry. And God loves us, for the wholeness that we are.
God invites us to live our lives as we were made: our best sides facing the world for all to see; our sturdy underside holding us steady as we live our faith, and our internal stamp—marked on us in baptism—keeping us true and faithful to the one who bears us with love.