Why does wearing a pretty ring on your left hand, fourth finger automatically mean you’re engaged? It doesn’t, but some people think it does. It’s just a finger – one of ten – but apparently it’s reserved only for marriage-related rings: wedding bands, engagement rings, and promise rings. Sure, I plan to wear my wedding band and engagement ring on that finger one day, some day, but does that mean I can’t wear other rings there right now?
My ring is just gold metal (In science, that would be Au.) in the shape of a circle with some jewels on it. And it’s beautiful. Prettier than any engagement ring I’ve ever seen. A plain diamond ring honestly sounds boring to me. Diamond rings need color.
When my parents got engaged, my dad did not have the money to buy my mom a ring (he was in medical school) and told her that when they traveled to India after their wedding, he would buy her a ring there. But, surprise, surprise, that didn’t happen. Ten years later, my father gave my mother a ring for their anniversary and several years after that, she began to wear her mother’s engagement ring on her left hand and wear the tenth anniversary ring on her right. Growing up, I absolutely adored this ring – I still do – and I told her so. I told her that, when she died, I wanted that ring. Not exactly the nicest thing to say to your mother or the nicest way to tell her of your admiration for a ring for which she waited ten years. But I was young – five, six, seven? – and I didn’t know any better. Speaking has never come as naturally to me as writing. (You should have seen the journals I unearthed over Christmas, dating back to when I was about six years old… hilarious!)
So, a few years ago, my mom was visiting me in Rhode Island where I was interning for two years with a Christian campus ministry called RUF, Reformed University Fellowship. At church, I did what I had always done during church growing up. I took her rings off of her fingers and placed them on mine and looked down at my hands, assessing the beauty of her rings and on which fingers each ring looked best. Toward the end of the service, I began giving back her rings, but as I reached for her tenth anniversary ring, she whispered, “Keep it.” I thought she meant that I could keep it until later that day or until she was headed back home in a few days. But, no, she meant, “Keep it, forever. It’s yours.” I started crying, but not too hard… I was in the middle of church, remember. The ring I had always loved, the one I had always wanted to wear and own myself, was mine to wear every day, and thankfully many many years before my wonderful mother is gone, Lord willing. What a wonderful gift!
I loved it then, and I still love it now. I honestly would like to wear it as an engagement ring in the future. Why should my future husband spend money on a ring that could not possibly be nearly as beautiful as this one (at least, not to me) when we could use that money to travel or to make some other dream come true?
As you may have guessed, my mother’s tenth anniversary ring is the one I wear on my left ring finger. (And why is it called your ring finger? As if your other fingers shouldn’t be used for rings or aren’t made for that purpose… I can wear rings on whatever fingers I want, thank you very much.) But that in no way means that I am engaged. Far from it! Did my mom’s not having an engagement ring mean that she was not engaged? No, indeed! No more than my wearing a ring on my left ring finger makes me engaged.
I used to wear my promise ring on my left hand, fourth finger, while I wore my mom’s ring on my right hand. But, as I have gained weight, my fingers have slowly gotten more swollen, and finally, there came a day that I could not fit my promise ring onto my left hand. My mom’s ring is a bit larger, so I wear it on my left hand, in place of the promise ring. I have worn a ring on my left hand, fourth finger ever since I was young. Not wearing one there now feels bare, uncomfortable, naked. So that is the reason for wearing my mother’s beautiful ring on my left ring finger. Perhaps one day I will be able to wear my promise ring again, but until then I will wear a ring on my left hand, whatever other people advise me to do.
My ring is just a ring – absolutely beautiful, but still just a ring. My finger is just a finger – beautiful, as well, if I may say so myself. But it’s also just a finger. Wearing an engagement, wedding, or promise ring represents a promise that person has made, but the ring itself is not the promise.
It is just a ring.
An RUF intern told me recently that the reason I haven’t been on many dates was because of this ring that I wear on my left hand. He said that guys are afraid to ask me out or get to know me too well because of it. But perhaps he said that because he himself was thinking about engagement rings. I didn’t know it at the time, but it turns out he was planning on asking his girlfriend to marry him. (And she said yes!) But is that really the reason I have been on very few dates in my life? I highly doubt it. I made it through college (without this ring, mind) having been on dates with only two guys, if you count the guy I never considered dating. I didn’t know it was a date until he started opening doors and paying for things (and also saying all the things you really shouldn’t say on a first date). So, really, only one man has asked me on dates that meant anything serious.
And then I moved to Rhode Island and went on a total of zero dates while I was there. Perhaps that was because I had this ring on my finger, but I think it was more because the only single Christian guys I would have ever been interested in were the students in my ministry, and they were off-limits. There weren’t too many singe Christian guys outside of the college world in Providence, at least not that I knew. And anyway, in New England, people often don’t think about getting married until much later. Getting married at twenty-two is a frightfully young age for marriage to many of the people I knew in Providence. It’s just a different culture than the one in which I grew up and the one where I am living now. The majority of my friends and acquaintances are already married, some already have kids. At the very least, most of them have had a long-term boyfriend at least once. And they are my age (twenty-four) or younger! No, I believe the reason I did not get asked on dates in Rhode Island was not the presence of a ring, but the short supply of eligible, interested (and interesting) men.
People don’t have to get to know me very well to learn that I have never had a boyfriend. I have been on a few dates, yes. But boyfriend? No. Heck, I’m putting this on the internet! I am not ashamed of my singleness; I am just not particularly happy about it. If a guy is afraid to have a simple conversation (enough to learn that I am, in fact, single) with me because of a ring, I have no interest in dating his cowardice anyway.
So stop hating on my ring. I don’t mind it, and nor should you. It’s a pretty ring on a pretty finger and that is all.
- One day, someday: https://aprilatclemsonruf.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/summer-conference-in-panama-city-beach/
- Interning: http://www.ruf.org/pages/jobs
- RUF: http://www.ruf.org
- Forever: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Pre7bINBps
- Gained weight: https://soarwithlaughter.com/2014/09/09/not-a-weakness/
- My ministry: http://www.rufbrownrisd.org
Read from the beginning: https://soarwithlaughter.com/soar-cloud-high/