Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Time My Pinkie Was Naked

Give Thanks- "I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." Verse 3.

Step One: Tell Him Thanks.
Step Two: Thank Others.  
Step Three: Get Over Yourself.  

I knew my friend Ashley wanted a pinkie ring--a pinkie ring with a cross, silver, from James Avery.  When I went to get it for her birthday, I glanced around at all of the jewelry cases, loving the pinkie ring with a cross.  I secretly wanted to keep it for myself, but knew I could never do that.  After receiving the gift, Ashley wore the ring daily, and she knew I coveted it.  So, for Christmas that year, she gave me one just like it.  We were seniors in high school, but our rings were more than just "friendship" rings. By way of a vertical relationship with God, they connected us horizontally on Earth. Later, for graduation that year, we gave our friend Jill her own ring.  
And then there were three.  

All together now, "Awwwww!"
I wore my ring every day, on my left hand. Every day.  And, every time I would glance in it's direction, I was reminded of my dear friendships and how I cherished friends who loved God like I did. 

 My ring lasted all through college: It soaked in sweat, running the 2-mile track around ACU, dried off on countless trips in a topless jeep, acquired grease during midnight runs to Taco Bueno, warmed up holding hands with boys, sparkled during Sing Song moves, traveled the world- to Africa and Italy. My ring went everywhere. 
We drove around Abilene, in the jeep, with these faces.

 It survived my first year of teaching, when I didn't think I would myself.  It came with me to Houston, and experienced youth group trips.  It was at one such youth group trip that it first happened.  I think we were at Harding for Uplift, and if you've ever been to Arkansas, you know how hot and humid it is in the summer.  My fingers would swell, and then go back down inside buildings with air conditioning. Somehow, through all the back and forth with swelling, my ring slipped off my pinkie and rolled down the auditorium filled with hundreds of teenagers. I was devastated.  There was no way to find it, it was gone.  

I mourned the loss of my ring, and though I was sad, I decided I wasn't ready to let go. Upon returning to Houston, I found the nearest James Avery store and purchased the second pinkie ring with a cross.  Soon, it found it's place on my finger, like the other one had. It was shiny, perfectly shaped, and looked different on my hand.  My old ring had scratches, was a little dim (probably from all the sweat and Bueno grease), and shaped to my finger, forming an off centered oval.  It wasn't quite the same, but over the past few years, the new ring has had it's own adventures: soaked with frequent licks from Hurley, jaunting to Ireland, clutching the phone while catching up with friends, lots of baby squeezing.  It continued to hold the same sentiment as the previous ring, while I tried to forget I'd lost the real one.

Because who doesn't like to talk on the phone?
In November this year, I went to eat with my family at our favorite sushi restaurant. I reached into my purse to grab my phone, and realized my ring was not there. "Oh no," I thought, "How could this happen again?"  I had half the table on the floor looking, and I lost my appetite for raw fish (if there ever really was one) realizing it was gone.  This time, I didn't rush to the nearest James Avery for a replacement.  I guess in some way I felt that it was time to let go, sad as it made me.  

This weekend, I traveled to Abilene for Sing Song. I love this weekend! It is full of God, Family, Friends, and TACO BUENO (twice)! On the drive, I dug into my purse pocket for a rubber band, when something cold and metal slipped on the tip of my pinkie.  To my immense joy, it was my beloved pinkie ring, the one with a cross.  
For those of you wondering what Sing Song is about, we bawked in harmony.

Words cannot express how warm my heart was to find that ring (but maybe that picture does).   I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. My ring represents friendship, and that's what Sing Song weekend is all about. My heart is overflowing with thankfulness for the friends I have. You are blessings, and I'm glad you're in my life.

My experience with that pinkie ring reminded me of this parable:

"Imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won't she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she'll call her friends and neighbors: 'Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!' Count on it—that's the kind of party God's angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God." Luke 15: 8-10

What gets me about this story is the kind of "party" God's angels throw.  How great is our God? 

"Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see."