Friday, February 14, 2014

Got a little story for ya, and #happyvalentinesday!

Two years ago to the day, I was packing in my room at my parents' house in Texas. I would leave for South Korea in 6 days, leaving for what I thought was a year abroad. Things sure do change, don't they? Anyway, I was going through an old box of jewelry, mostly costume stuff, mostly from my great grandma's house. I came across a small old ring with a green stone. It was nothing remarkable, but I recognized it as as a Claddagh ring, a traditional ring from Ireland. A Claddagh has two hands circling a crowned heart. The hands represent friendship, the heart represents love, the crown represents loyalty. It's beautiful. It's classic.

The ring that I found was horribly tarnished. Honestly, I thought it was a cheap prize that had been destroyed by age. The green stone was pretty enough, so I wondered... I got a cloth out and polished it up and what I thought was a worthless trinket turned out to be a silver and emerald Claddagh ring, a treasure!

Seeing as it was in a box of old things, I asked around to find out how such a beautiful piece ended up in my old jewelry box. I was only around 10 when my great grandmother passed away, so nothing of real value would have ended up in my room. No one could remember the ring even belonging to my great grandma, neither could anyone see why a nice ring would have ended up in my stuff at such a young age. It's a mystery!

Two years ago to the day was, of course, February 14, 2012. I found this ring on Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day.

Vulnerable moment: I've never had a valentine. Some years I'm fine with that, some years I'm less fine with it. 2012 was a mixed bag. I was about to leave the country, so I had no business dating anyone even if there had been someone in the picture, but I still struggled with pretty common feelings of inadequacy and loneliness and rejection. Satan likes to lie and tell us single people that we aren't good enough to have a relationship, and that we never will be. Sometimes we believe him. He's a liar, of course, the father of lies. We, as single people, also make an idol of relationships, as if a relationship with another human being will suddenly fix our problems or make us happy. This is ridiculous, yet we often believe ourselves. Eh. The reality is that only Jesus can fix you, plus if you're looking to anything else to make you happy, that's what we call an "idol" in the biz. [Side note: I went to an awesome single's conference last weekend in Seoul and that was the exact topic of one of the sessions. Such great reinforcement of truth! You can never hear the truth too many times.]

Back to Feb. 14, 2012, there I was, basking in my own pity party of singleness and moaning over the fact that I'd never had anyone but my mom give me a valentine's gift and then, out of the blue, I received this beautiful, mysterious gift.

According to the internets, a Claddagh ring has a different meaning depending on the way you wear it. On your right hand, the ring signifies friendship, more or less. On your left hand, the ring signifies engagement or marriage.

Wikihow describes the proper way to wear the ring as such: "When you wear a Claddagh on your left ring finger, it's a sign that you've found the one you'll be spending the rest of your life with."  My ring only fits my left ring finger. With every other ring I've had, if it fit one ring finger, it would also fit one or two others, but this one won't. It only fits my left hand ring finger. Quite fitting, no? (Bonus ring pun! Dad joke? Groan!) 

It being Valentine's Day and all, I got out my Valentine Claddagh this morning. I sure do love its significance. For a girl who had never received a valentine, I sure got a good one... for who holds my heart? The King of Glory. Years ago, I sang out "Here's my heart, Lord, take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above!" and I meant. every. word.

"When you wear a Claddagh on your left ring finger, it's a sign that you've found the one you'll be spending the rest of your life with." 

Two years ago, Jesus sent me a valentine.

The hands represent friendship. 
The heart represents love. 
The crown represents loyalty. 

It's beautiful. It's classic. Thank you, Jesus.

"For the King is enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your Lord." 
Psalm 45:11

A Final Note:

One of the most practical ways I've learned to navigate the waters of epic Christian singleness (without bitterness) has been to see counsel from those who have been at this longer than I have and still have their eyes on Christ. Love and Respect (Now) is my faaaaaavorite relationship blog. I've learned a LOT from Joy in the year and a half I've been reading her site and watching her vlogs, especially the Respect State of the Union. Powerful stuff! She also participated in the Quarter Life Conference on Relationships last year, which (as the name suggests) is full of good info on biblical relationships. Also, a little humor never hurt anyone, so check out this post from Jon Acuff today. He made us single folks a lovely Valentine's card, isn't that sweet? 

In all seriousness, we all need to get ourselves into scripture and into community who loves the Lord. You can't do this alone, and as a believer, you shouldn't want to. Jesus and his people who love him are ready to love you too - look to Him! 

When you fall in love with Jesus, you run out of room to worry about falling in love (or not falling in love) with someone. Displacement is a neat thing. Jesus fills you up. Don't believe Satan-the-liar's lies. More things I was reminded of at the conference last week: You are whole in Jesus. You are not a half needing to be completed (cough cough Jerry Maguire). Also, God's objective isn't to bring you a spouse, it's to make you like Jesus. He *is* enough. Amen to that. 

And for real, now that I've started re-watching a little of the Respect State of the Union, I think EVERY GIRL EVER should watch it. It will POWERFULLY impact the way you treat men - all men - in your life. In a beauuuuutiful way. 

An actual final note, because I know what the word final means:

HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY! Did you know that St. Valentine himself was a rebel? The emperor, Claudius, had banned marriage because married soldiers weren't as fearless as single soldiers (which is probably true, in an honorable way since married men have wives to think of, not just battle), but St. Valentine secretly married Christian couples anyway. The way I see it, he defied the emperor because of his love for God and respect for the sanctity of marriage. He got caught and imprisoned, then he tried to convert Claudius to the faith and was beheaded. Or at least that's how I understand the story. And then Hallmark decided chocolate and cards would be a good idea and, well... I prefer the dude who secretly married people and got beheaded (just like I prefer to talk about the real St. Nicholas who punched a heretic in the face and provided dowries for poor maidens, rather than Santa Claus. But that's another story). Maybe that's why I always watch Braveheart on Valentine's Day? It's an epic battle story with love intertwined all the way through. Preeeeeetty much the best Valentine's movie ever. 

I clearly don't know what final means:

I think these books should be required reading for people who want to think about maybe dating and/or getting married one day. You don't have to listen to me, cause clearly I'm not married so maybe I don't have the resume to recommend things, but I think these are awesome. 


Here is a LOTR valentine from pinterest, from me to y'all. 

1 comment:

  1. In Korea, on valentines day, only boys are supposed to get chocolate from girls. Is it different? By the way, I think the reason why we want to fall in love with others is beacause we were born to be loved. God made us to be loved, so it is natural for us to want to be loved. As you mentioned, however, only God can fill up our heart. We can be only satisfied when we stay in Him. I am embarresed that I have been looking for a girlfriend. One of the biggest reasons why I wanted a girlfriend was to prove
    that I was cool enough to have one. I mean people take you for fool , you having no experience of relationship.
    I pondered myself and talked to myself.
    "How stupid I am? If I have to listen to people and follow what they say, am I Christian?"
    Those who said that I should go out are non-Christian. They think I am wrong. I am not saying , of course, relationship is a bad thing. Just it is meaningless that u go out with someone that God doesnt give you as a right person. I still want one, but I am not trying to have one. Thats different.