I threw away my wedding ring today.
Looking at my ring finger, there was an indentation where it once resided. A band of skin colored red. Immediately, I experienced a sense of deep loss. I felt the pain of abandonment.
It was nearly 15 years to the day when I surprised my fiancee at the time by escorting her to the jeweler. We were broke, but I had Uncle Mastercard, one of those relatives in the family who seemed to hang around too much during our marriage.
When we walked out of the store, my soon-to-be wife couldn’t stop staring at it, twisting it in the sunlight to watch it glimmer. Although it was modest by most standards, it was stunning to my bride, because of its purity of design. But, more importantly, she was thrilled by what it represented in a lifetime commitment from me.
This wasn’t a promise to be her roommate for a lifetime. Or merely her business partner. It was a pledge to love her, heart and soul, every day of my life. The ring on my finger was my bond.
So my shortcomings as a husband all flashed before me as I stared at the hand which was now bare.
What would my life be without her?
I didn’t like the answer.
Yes. I had thrown away my wedding ring, but it was all by accident. When I first realized it was missing, I couldn’t figure out how I lost it, but I feared it would be impossible to find. It was gone forever.
Fortunately, God bailed me out. I remembered earlier in the day I had a bottle of sunscreen explode on me. I was outdoors and covered with SPF 60 all over my clothes. With no other way to clean it, I scraped the dollops of white goo off of my shirt and flicked it into the bushes. Apparently, my ring went with it.
After closely inspecting the scene of the crime, I managed to spot the lost treasure in a pile of dirt and weeds.
With the same joy as the woman in the Bible who found her lost coin, I was ecstatic.
And I also got the message.
The truth was, I had lost weight several years ago and the ring had become loose on my hand. I always intended to get around to having it tightened, but never did. I got busy. I got distracted. I had more important things to do. I took for granted it would always be there.
God reminded me in that moment how critical it was not to treat his gift of my marriage as loosely as I had that ring.
In the busyness and pressures of this world, it’s so easy to do. Because of choices we make, we become overwhelmed with our daily tasks and find ourselves treading feverishly in the world’s minutia, barely keeping our heads above the waterline.
We’re racing against the clock, our backs are against the wall. We’re in survival mode. You do this. I’ll do that. Don’t forget to do this. And we find ourselves churning away on the gerbil wheel of life.
In the meantime we neglect one of our most critical assignments here on earth.
Because a friend of mine once shared, and I believe it to be true, that one of the first questions we’ll be asked when stand before the throne of Jesus is, “How well did you love your spouse?”
We’ll try to dodge the inquiry as we open the scroll of our Kingdom accomplishments. “Shall we review several of my feats of volunteerism? How about exploring the receipts which document a life of generous giving? My service as Deacon? My time as Elder?”
Then we’ll hear the question again.
“How well did you love your spouse? Did you love them as I love the Church?”
Are you ready for that question? I’m not.
Which is why I’m polishing my wedding band to a bright shine, until it looks new again. Just as that first blissful day when she slipped it on my finger.