Returning a Risky Ring

Picture it: Fredericktown, 1996, late spring, a seventeen year old girl sitting in the passenger seat in the drive-thru at Hardees and an older boy sitting in the driver’s seat.

Ok, so that works better in the Golden Girls tv series, but I still like it.

Perhaps I should go back to the beginning.

All through high school I had friends who dated seriously. Seriously enough to warrant the coveted “promise ring”.

Promise rings ran rampant in my circle of friends.

Although I kept my opinion to myself most of the time, I was very much opposed to promise rings. I found them entirely unnecessary in every relationship.

Let’s be honest. If you are committed enough to “promise” engagement, then you should be ready to be engaged.

This promise ring is what? An engagement to become engaged at a later time when you are committed enough to commit to marriage? Then what are you committing to by promising?

I promise that one day we MIGHT get engaged.

Dude! I could give every person I ever met a promise ring! I MIGHT become engaged to anyone someday.

You get my point.

Date someone until you dump them or become engaged. There is no promise. You’re either dating, engaged, or married. The engagement is the “promise”.

Summer before my senior year in high school I started dated someone. I would say exclusively, but since I hadn’t really been dating un-exclusively before that, well, I was dating someone.

On Valentine’s Day, I sat beside him and opened a jewelry box. Inside was a diamond ring.

I don’t receive gifts well, so my response of silence probably wasn’t unexpected or surprising, but my lack of response at all apparently made the moment uncomfortable.

I stared at the ring in the box staring back at me. It came to me silently, and I was confused. I wasn’t sure exactly what I was looking at and I didn’t want to assume too much.

“Aren’t you going to put it on?” he coaxed.

I looked at him, with a raised eyebrow, silently screaming for an explanation.

Somehow, awkwardly, the ring made it to my ring finger with an explanation of how it came to be perfectly sized without me even knowing I was getting a ring.

The ring came with no proposal and yet it was placed symbolically on my ring finger.

I had no idea what to tell people when they asked about the ring. Sure we had talked about forever. We had talked about the future. We also knew that my college plans were still up in the air.

I wore a ring that taunted me every time the sun reflected off it facets until I made a decision.

I would not wear a promise ring. Not even one that came without the promise.

Sitting in the drive-thru of Hardees, I handed back a jewelry box containing a diamond ring. I felt like I had swallowed my size eleven shoe as I tried to force the explanation out, but eventually I did.

I had been wearing that mocking ring for a few months. I don’t think I had really said a word. Until I returned the ring. In the midst of an every day, calm, normal conversation.

“I’m only giving it back until it’s for real. Nothing changes.”



Most men would have been horribly offended. I don’t remember us arguing that day. And once the tennis shoe disappeared from my throat, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

I didn’t feel like an impostor anymore.

Unfortunately, people noticed the ring was missing.

Who knew that many people noticed my hands?!?! And why were they so shocked to discover I returned a ring but didn’t break up with my boyfriend? I might as well have announced I was cheating or we agreed to have an open relationship.

It seriously was like I went from a committed relationship to an individual who had grown two heads with a third one sprouting.

A little time passed and on an evening I had a horrible headache, a bizarrely all the sudden imposed curfew, and wanted nothing more than NOT to go out on a date, we were going out on a double date. As if my night wasn’t bad enough, the whole night was off.

I was absolutely certain I was being dumped when the evening was over. Not in the entire time we had dated (including our first blind date) had any date been this awkward and uncomfortable. At the time I would say it was the worst date we had ever been on.

As he was taking me home he even went the wrong direction. I had to remind him to turn around to take me home. Bizarre.

As he pulls into a parking lot and puts the car in park, I prepare myself for the end.

Instead I get a proposal and my ring back.

Apparently it had been the “issue” all evening.

I returned that ring almost seventeen years ago. It was a huge risk. It absolutely could have changed the course of my life.

I believe that God has not only a plan for each of our lives, but I believe God has a spouse (or not) chosen for each of us. We have been through some crazy things as a couple. The trials, the tears, the goofy situations we’ve created with our own four hands…yeah, we’ve done a lot of things backwards and out of order.

Yes, even getting and giving rings.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Taking a risk to challenge the status quo is hard. It takes a brave person to stand up for what he/she believes in when everyone else thinks he/she is crazy or different.


  2. Brave, crazy, and different: all adjectives used to describe me. 🙂


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