I adore my engagement ring. Like, seriously, adore it. Occasionally, I’ll take off my wedding ring and just look at my hand like I did 18 years ago after Dr. proposed. Hold it up to the light, watch it sparkle, change colors with different angles, remember how it made me feel as a 22-year-old college student to know someone wanted to be with me for the rest of his life as if I had any actual clue what forever would mean.
Only, the ring on my hand currently is not the ring Dr. proposed with.
In fact, the ring he proposed with is TWO engagement rings ago.
And THAT ring wasn’t the original ring he bought for me.
That’s right folks. Dr. has bought me four…FOUR…engagement rings.
In case you’re thinking I’m wearing some JLo 20 karat pink diamond at this point, don’t worry. I’m not. Thankfully, I had some sense about me. And Dr. is a teacher. Government employees don’t make movie star cash. The diamond has changed shape and setting but really, all of that is beside the point.
The point is understanding the reason behind my need to keep trading in something that should hold an enormous amount of significance and sentimental attachment.
I was never satisfied.
Because I never felt as if the ring on my finger really, truly represented how valuable I was and how much my husband needed me. To me, the ring should be a foghorn blaring how much I was loved to anyone who saw me.
Listen, if we had been dating and engaged and planning a wedding during the Pinterest era?
We would have never survived.
Last week, I was listening to the podcast Invisabilia. In this episode, The Personality Myth, the hosts explored the idea of personality being a firm set of traits, unchanging over the decades of a life. They began by interviewing couples at the courthouse glowing with marriage certificates in their hands. You could hear the giddiness as men and women listed their partner’s best traits and then the laughter as they each agreed their expectations were those traits would remain the same.
Predictability, the episode sought to discredit the belief of personalities as consistent and expected. Instead, scientists stated, traits and tendencies can easily be shaped by circumstances and environment.
I find podcasts to be incredibly interesting and entertaining. They certainly make four miles in the 90-degree heat bearable. And more times than not, they inadvertently confirm my Christian faith.
We believe in change.
Scriptures teach us humans can and do and should change as the Holy Spirit works in our lives. We learn how much we need to rely on the Comforter to give us His traits, the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
We teach our children the same thing. When Skillet loses his temper, we talk about how we need Jesus to help us by giving us more of His kindness, gentleness, self-control. We pray together and ask for help.
When we are baptized, we believe we bury our old life of rebellion and chose a new life of freedom and redemption in Christ. We become a new creation in Him.
As Christians, we confess to a belief in our soul (personality) changing because of an encounter with our risen Savior.
But I wonder how much we expect that from each other? From ourselves even? And how much we acknowledge it when we see it?
A couple of Sundays ago, we witnessed the baptism of a former prisoner and addict. He professed to be eight months sober and based on what I’ve seen in him at church, he is truly a Christ follower. Never misses a service, full-out-hands-in-the-air worshiper, scripture-memorizing, changed man who serves as an usher. I am so very on the outside looking in but our pastor has spoken of him occasionally and so the pastor’s words combined with what I see in his behavior leads me to accept his transformation as truth.
The truth is also that he might battle addiction again someday. The truth is also he might carry the consequences of his behavior before Christ much longer than society says is necessary because people see words on a page and make decisions without seeing the heart of a person.
We are able to see his amazing change, really to bear witness to the transformative power of Jesus, because it is dramatic and overwhelming.
Small and Powerful
I do not have that kind of powerful transformation story. In fact, the story of how and when I decided to give my life to Jesus at the super-wise age of eight is incredibly underwhelming. It would move approximately zero people towards Jesus.
My true transformation began in the middle of our infertility journey. That’s when Jesus and my relationship with Him began a work in my heart. And my personality changed.
I mean, I’m still sarcastic and I can still rant as if I actually have all the facts and understand every side of every story. I still really enjoy a new tank top and a long run but my tank tops are from the thrift store and my long runs outside where it is free. But I am much less legalistic, less likely to make assumptions based only on what I see or what I hear from one source. More likely to see humans as created in His image and therefore, valuable, and worthy of honor.
I am at least a little patient now as well as open and more likely to ask for what I need from others instead of doing something incredibly silly, such as constantly trading in an engagement ring because I have yet to reach some unattainable perfect representation of my value as a wife in diamond form.
I suspect there are lots of folks like me with simple, quiet stories of transformation. No Saul to Paul, road to Damascus, blinding story and maybe because of that, we feel as if we haven’t earned the right to speak about the work God is doing in our lives.
We feel the enormity of the change but fear the smallness of the story.
Thanks to my encounter with my Savior, I am transformed, a new creation, sporting some fancy new personality traits. And while my change was slow and apparent mostly only to the man next to me who kept doing his absolute best to give me what I thought I needed, the change in my life is miraculous.
Friend, who in your life needs to hear your enormous story of transformation? Do you fear it’s too small to share? Let me encourage you. It is not. And it’s not even your story. It’s God’s story IN YOU and He is worthy of sharing. Yours might just be the exact story someone needs to hear to begin their own transformation in Christ.
Or are you reading this thinking of someone in your life who has gone through a change? A change towards the Kingdom? Maybe you hadn’t really noticed it before but, huh, there it is. Can I encourage you to reach out and speak that truth into their life? Build them up, pray for them, acknowledge the work our Father is doing in them.
When I look down at my engagement ring now, I see those years of sacrificial love Dr. gave to me so unselfishly and the miracle of a heart changed and filled by the One my soul was created to need most.
Your small story, you tiny, slow, change causes gigantic ripples in the lives of those God has placed around you. And the transformations of those in your life are worthy of celebration. Big or small. If you see it, call it out and offer gratitude to the One who calls us His Own.