The Purity RingMichael and Judith Hayes
Focus on the Family, June 2000; Reprinted with permission
Most little girls dream of the day they will meet their Prince Charming. A young woman begins preparing to meet the real love of her life when she is still harboring her Barbie dolls, dress-up clothes and pop beads in her closet or old toy chest. It begins with a fantasy, but it is much more than a flight of imagination. It is a deep-rooted hope that someday she will find love, romance and happiness -- a sense of belonging.
Sometimes her first Prince Charming can be her dad. Such was the story with our youngest daughter, Annabelle. We had somewhat successfully sent one daughter out into the world, and now Michael and I were faced with a new challenge. We had discovered that mothers and daughters can get into some very nasty power struggles, even though they both profess to be Christians and love the Lord.
As a mother I had prayed, cried, confided in friends, asked for advice, and finally I just gave up. But Michael approaches life much differently. I'm passionate, opinionated, and when pushed can display a rather fiery temper. Fortunately, Michael was born with a calm, peacemaking personality. For him disciplining and guiding our daughter was handled quietly and with prayer -- and a small gold ring.
Over the years I had developed the habit of listening to my children's wishes, even if they didn't realize at the time that they were telling them. They would often say that the birthday presents or Christmas gifts I gave them were the best, not remembering that they had mentioned them in a conversation months earlier. I knew that a desire fulfilled unexpectedly was valued and recalled long after a desire that was gratified immediately. So when Annabelle mentioned in the course of a conversation that her friend Shawna had received a purity ring from her dad, I knew I had the perfect idea for a gift. To this day, Annabelle says she was surprised by what came next.
The following week I went to our local Bible bookstore to look at such a ring. I had a lot of questions: Could we afford to give a junior high student such an expensive piece of jewelry? Would her older sister, who received no such ring, have hurt feelings? Most of my doubts were dispelled by a simple phone call to my wife.
"No, we cant afford it, and yes, there may be hurt feelings," she said. "But even so, its the right thing to do. Buy the ring!"
A purity ring is a symbol of chastity and faithfulness, not just to a future husband but to the Lord. It is an enduring reminder that Jesus is always present, and hopefully it prompts a young girl to ask what He would do in a given situation.
But to a 13-year-old, there is also an element of romance in getting such a ring. In fact, Annabelle and her friend each planned, upon getting married, to melt her ring to become part of her husband's wedding band. For that reason, the ring would need to be made of gold.
The purity ring Michael bought was gold, engraved with tiny doves and hearts. Annabelle would never have committed her chastity to a legalistic doctrine, but to a man she knew God would provide. For this reason there was no lecture when, as part of a birthday celebration, Michael gave the ring to both Annabelle and her husband yet unknown, with words of encouragement and trust. Annabelle accepted her father's gift happily and immediately placed it on her wedding finger.
The ring remained on her hand throughout her teen and early adult years, a symbol of her modesty and virtue. I'm not going to tell you that those years were all fun and games. We had conflicts, curfew wars and arguments about her responsibilities at home. Thankfully, most things worked out in the end with lots of talking, crying, laughing and prayer.
Then in 1998 Annabelle became engaged to her second Prince Charming, Gregg, who presented her with a beautiful betrothal ring of diamonds and gold. She quickly placed that ring on her wedding finger and, without hesitation, moved her purity ring to her right hand. There it remained until her wedding day: April 10,1999.
Annabelle stood before us and 200 guests, looking like an angel in her pure white wedding gown. She and Gregg exchanged vows, the pastor blessed the union, and then stood our daughter and her new husband before our tear-filled eyes. They looked blissfully happy and radiant, and they had an added gift to give each other that day: no regrets. They had remained pure and virtuous throughout their relationship.
As they were introduced as husband and wife, they both stepped forward to greet us, and then it was their turn to give us a very special gift. Annabelle gently slipped her purity ring to me and whispered, "Please save this for us until we give birth to our first child."
Michael and Judith Hayes live in Chatsworth, Calif.
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