Once upon a time, I made a big deal about getting an engagement ring. We both agreed that we didn't want to do diamonds as we're not down with the industry's trade practices, blood diamonds, brainwashing, etc...basically, we're not into the whole "diamond hype". Also, we (or I) have truly developed a love of gemstones. Clearly, Yahweh didn't start or stop making beautiful gems with the diamond, so we took our time to explore and learn about other options. (NOTE: I don't hate diamonds, they're actually quite beautiful too, but I won't buy anymore, nor do I want anymore bought for me, unless and until I can buy them directly from an African who is profiting from its sale OR I see Africans, in general, profiting from the industry. Until then, I'll continue to appreciate the beauty of topaz, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, amethyst, etc. and pass on diamonds. And, for those who want to think Mr. Free didn't want to invest in a diamond, know that he's bought me diamonds before, not to mention he's also bought me cars, a nice home, expensive trips and do keep in mind that I haven't worked a single day in seven years. We also have several investments which far exceed the cost of a diamond engagement/wedding ring, so get over it. Just had to add that bit for those who may take it there...if I sound defensive it's cuz people have a way of CONSTANTLY putting their two cents in regarding things they know NOTHING about us. lol)
Anyway... So I didn't like comments made by other people about my not wearing any sort of ring. Note that my offended feelings started way before I really delved into my secular marriage studies. But snide comments and funny looks continued even after I was well into my studies and, I admit, they bothered me even after I knew better. For example, a woman at our former church, who I barely knew, walked up to me out of the clear blue one Sunday and said, "Oh, I heard you were engaged, let me see the ring" as she reached for my hand. When I responded that I was engaged, but didn't have a ring she lifted up my left hand and very loudly proclaimed, "Well, I just need to see the manifestation of a thing" (suggesting that, since I didn't wear a ring, an engagement didn't exist). I was beyond appalled! First of all, I barely...I mean barely...even knew this woman. That she even approached me like that, indicated that there's been some discussion about me with others (how else would she have even known, much less gotten the gumption to make a beeline for me and a big deal of holding up my ringless hand?) Secondly, it was clear that her loud talking antics were an attempt to personally embarrass me. I was completely taken aback and, literally, at a loss for words. A couple of my friends stepped in with a few choice words before this woman flounced off to manage the telephone prayer line for the rest of the afternoon (I'll resist comment on her managing the prayer line, lol).
This is but one example of several others like it which made me want an engagement ring just to shut others up. I mean, Mr. Free and I have been together longer than we've been in the church. Longer than I've been saved and, certainly, longer than we've known a lot of the people who have vehemently protested our relationship. We've watched as people have married, divorced and remarried again, yet we're still together and more devoted to one another than ever before. We've survived difficult times, have actually lived the "for better or for worse" vows that most people trash at the first sign of a problem and we are still at each other's side deeply and strongly committed to one another for life! Somehow, though, people caught up in the lie that marriage equals certificate and that it cannot exist without one, have a difficult time understanding that marriage IS our commitment to one another. We have cleaved to one another as the bible says to do when it defines/describes marriage!
Back to this ring issue. I pushed it. I wanted it (what girl doesn't want a beautiful, symbolic ring?!), but I didn't need it to validate what I already knew. And though I really like my rings, when I got them, I got angry all over again. lol
See, I got them primarily because I wanted to shut folk up. Now, looking back, I'm angry with myself that I even cared what they thought/said in the first place. We even rushed to get them as we were getting ready to go out of town for a large family event and I knew that certain folk present at this event had HUGE issues with our relationship. So, to appease them, we hurried and purchased 2 different settings of topaz and amethyst rings for me to wear interchangeably (one's gold the other's white gold, so I can wear them on different days). What angered me, though, is the sudden legitimacy it seemed to give us as a couple. It's what I wanted (approval from others...the hypocritical part of me, I guess), but then that same approval is exactly what made me angry. It was then that I realized how much I was seeking outside validation when, at the same time, I was coming into the enlightenment of real marriage and it wasn't anything like what any of these people thought, so why should I have cared?!
That weekend at the family event, I smiled and thanked them, but people's congratulations over my ring really peeved me. I mean REALLY peeved me. It was like the whole hypocrisy of the traditional marriage game was coming into clear focus and fast! They were FINALLY approving of what the rings represented, though nothing between Mr. Free and I had actually changed! Why did it take rings for them to believe us? And why did we care if they did or didn't? We loved each other, just the same as we had without the rings. We were committed to each other, just as we'd been without the rings. We'd promised to share our lives, for the rest of our lives, together, just as we'd done without the rings. We were still good parents, just as we'd been without the rings. I mean, everything was the same as it had been between us for years, yet outside attitudes almost instantly changed! I was angry that people we love didn't take our word for it before. That it wasn't enough that they've seen us stick together for better or for worse all these years. That it wasn't enough that we have let them all know that we plan on being together forever. That it wasn't enough that we've built a life together. NONE of that meant anything to them, but the rings suddenly validated our relationship. Uggghhhh! I hated the indignant thoughts and feelings welling up inside of me, yet I wore the rings for all to see...and add their approval.
Since then though, I've battled a very rebellious spirit. I really don't want to do anything else strictly for other people. And sometimes these sentiments extend to having an actual wedding. The girly part of me wants a small one, but the realist in me is asking, "For what?" Would I be doing it because I want to? Or even because Mr. Free wants to? Or would this be another case of us doing something so that others will be happy and approve? If I believe as I do, that marriage isn't about the wedding, the fanfare and, least of all, the certificate...why should I go through with all of that? (NOTE: I don't think there's anything wrong with a ceremony, just that it's not necessary and you can read my other posts to find out why I don't believe in secular/legal marriage: Real vs. Legal Marriage, Am I Anti-Government? and What Exactly Is Secular Marriage).
Mr. Free insists that we'll have a ceremony and maintains that the issue of legal marriage is still open for discussion as he reads and studies the issue more himself. His whole thing is that he doesn't want to offend his family (I say they're offending themselves by not going by the bible, but choosing, instead, to need an additional "tradition" made up by man. But, hey...) Some days I'm cool with a ceremony, but some days I'm 100% resistant of the idea simply because I fear we'll be doing it for show and (yuk) approval. And, I keep telling him, but I don't think he believes me, I'm NOT doing a legal marriage. Period. There's nothing to talk about! I don't have to do one! Yahweh accepts our marriage already, why do we need to do more? It's almost like saying to Him, "Yeah, you gave us marriage and you even defined it for us in the bible, but we need something more...we need the STATE to say we're married and give us their little certificate of authenticity in order for what you already gave us to be valid." For me, that's not gonna work. And, as for our family and friends, why do we have to prove anything else to them? Can't they see the fruit we bear? We've succeeded where others have failed (even other divorced family members). We've forgiven when others have given up. We've parented a healthy, well-adjusted, Yahweh-fearing young man. We've maintained a decent home(life), explored the world and built a good life together...and we have no plans of giving each other up for anything or anyone else! I say that if they can't or don't accept our marriage, let that be on them. As long as the Father does and as long as we do, I could care less about doing anything extra just to please folk!
Anyway, this is about the rings and I'm going off on a marriage tangent again. lol :)
I wear my rings because I really do like them. But I started wearing them, in part, to shut people up which I wouldn't have done if I truly didn't care. Most days I'm wearing them for me, but on days when we attend family or church functions I'm torn between the question of if I'm putting them on for myself or if I'm wearing them for that whole approval issue? I don't want the lines between the two to be blurred. I hate that it's even a question in my mind of if they are sometimes blurred. I should just be able to wear or not wear them in peaceful, not-caring-what-others-think bliss.
Even sometimes when you think you're free, folks, you find yourself questioning, "am I really?"
Most times, I think I am. Other days, I just strive to be.
Really and Truly,