Sunday, December 19, 2010

What God has joined together

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. – Genesis 1:24 (NIV)
It remained on my finger for almost 37 years. Sometime between the second the third babies I couldn’t get it off. Blame it on swollen fingers, weight gain, larger knuckles, or all three, but the gold band my husband slipped on my finger on a wintery December Saturday in 1973 refused to get past my knuckle.
When I had baby number three, the nurse prepping me for the C-section wrapped surgical tape around it. That wasn’t an option last week when I had carpal tunnel surgery on my left wrist. A week earlier, the physician’s assistant conducting pre-op preparations tried the “string trick” twice to no avail. The ring had to come off, and the only alternative was to have it cut off. Sometimes life doesn’t give us choices. If I opted not to have surgery, the pain would only get worse. It was, after all, only a ring.
Only a ring? you gasp. That was your wedding ring!
True. But my wedding ring isn’t what makes me married. Standing in church in front of a priest and exchanging vows didn’t make us married. The promises and the ceremony were only the beginning.
That day I heard “for better, for richer, in health,” but it was the “for worse, for poorer, and in sickness” that made us truly married. Through the poor years, the disappointments, the crises, ours became a marriage not only of our hearts, but also of our minds and souls. We finish each other’s sentences. We know, for the most part, what each other is thinking.
Not that our marriage is perfect. Far from it. Right now, I’m more than a little miffed that he didn’t get the Christmas decorations from the attic when I asked him—more than once—right after Thanksgiving. And I’m sure there are things that I say and do (or don’t do) that annoy him. I don’t keep score. And I’m glad he doesn’t.
Years ago, he stopped wearing his wedding ring when it wore down so much the edges became knife-sharp. So for our anniversary that year, I bought him a new one. But he turned up his nose at the shiny gold band.
“It’s not the one,” he said.
I returned it.
When I got mine cut off last week, he suggested we get new ones.
I shook my head. “It won’t be the one,” I said.
I didn’t say that to be a smart alec (OK, just a little). I had a better idea: I’d take the two rings, have them melted down together, then recast into two new rings.
He isn’t too keen on the idea, but I love the symbolism: Two broken, worn-down rings, two hearts, two lives—no longer separate, but melded together so well they are no longer two, but one.
Isn’t that what God had planned all along?

As I light the third Advent candle, Lord, I’m reminded of promises—promises made and promises kept. I am so blessed. Thank you. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Genesis 2:18–24


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