I Really Want a Ring: Why I’m Gonna Call It a Marriage Ring.

Someone made a joke to me the other day that I was the only adult or one of the few adults in the room without a ring on. It was funny because my wedding is only a few days away, but it also reminded me how desperately I want one.

Good gracious, I want a ring on my left hand. It’s something that I’ve wondered about, something I’ve wished for for a long time. Sometimes I’ve slipped little pieces of string around that finger. Sometimes I’ve wrapped a rubber band around it.

I’ve longed for it. And when I finally got to purchase it a few months ago, I wanted so bad to put it on my finger and just wear it around.

In a few days, I’ll get to wear it. It’s commonly called a “wedding ring,” but I’m insisting to my fiancée on calling it a “marriage ring.”

The ring symbolizes unity, togetherness, permanence. So many things. Men and women wear them when they get married. They get them at their weddings, so they’re referred to as wedding rings. But I want to continually refer to mine as a “marriage ring.”

My ring is not a reminder that I was in a wedding once. It’s a reminder that I’m married. It’s a reminder that there is a girl that I have committed myself to. It’s a reminder that I have sworn before God and man that I’m committed to loving my wife until death do us part.

When I go out in public and wear my ring, I’m saying to all the women out there that I’m taken and that I’m not looking for anything. I’m giving myself an accountability system, to remind myself to not look and to not lust. There’s only one woman for that.

I was trying to find something to compare it to, and eventually I thought of, well, circumcision. OK, before you get a little grossed out, let me explain my point.

It was a symbolic act of identifying yourself with God. All males among God’s people were circumcised eight days after their birth. It as a reminder of the covenant they had with God, that He would be with them and protect them, and that they would devote themselves to Him. (For more, check out Genesis 17.) The idea was that it was a physical sign of commitment.

Now that I’ll never be able to separate circumcision and my marriage ring…

When us men slip on our wedding, er, marriage rings in the morning, or after we shave after work, or when we drive away from our church league softball games, whenever we do it, we’re reminding ourselves of the woman we’ve committed ourselves to. We’re not reminding ourselves of a day; we’re reminding ourselves of a promise we made, a promise we made before God and man for the world to know. And it’s sealed in yellow gold/white gold/platinum/palladium/tungsten/titanium.

And there’s something incredibly symbolic in the way that I will get my ring. My wife (wow, so awesome to say it that way) will give it to me, put it on my finger. In the same way God gives His commitment to me and I respond with my commitment to Him, my wife promises to commit to me as I will commit to her.

As I reflect on what I’ve written, I think of Ephesians 5, and how Paul says the mystery of marriage “refers to Christ and the church” (v. 32). How there’s a double-commitment. How we commit to one another in marriage. How God pledges to do what’s best for us, and we pledge our lives to Him.

So yes, it’s a ring that reminds me of the marriage, of the commitment I’ve made to my wife and the commitment I’ve made to God. So I will call it a marriage ring.

Won’t you too?

What I’ve Learned About Faithfulness in Romantic Relationships from Popular Music

How many popular songs have you heard that talk about avoiding faithfulness in a relationship?

The ones that come to my mind primarily are “Leavin” by Jesse McCartney and “The Call” by the Backstreet Boys. In “Leavin,” Jesse encourages a girl tell her man that she’s “leavin, never to come back again.” The plea is primarily based on his ability to please her better sexually. In “The Call,” the man is making a call to his woman at home about some vague place he’s going. What he doesn’t say is that he’s going to be with an unnamed woman.

Faithfulness in romantic relationships is a foreign concept to half of America these days. True faithfulness is the reason that marriages end in death of one of the spouses. I’ve seen true faithfulness in my parents’ marriage, in the marriages of many others.

I must admit, I often wonder how in the world this happens. How do we get to the place where we can repel those temptations from people other than our spouses? What must we learn?

Surprise of surprises, I’ve learned some pointers from popular music. Here’s three lessons I’ve picked up from three different songs. Two are popular tracks from this past year, and the other is a little harder to come by but definitely worth a listen.

1.Don’t deny the temptations. Recognizing them is the first step to beating them.

Song: “Honey, I’m Good.” by Andy Grammer 

This song, Grammer’s most popular record, revolves around him being in a bar and seeing women around him who are tempting him. He acknowledges that they are good-looking, but he’s got someone much better at home.

“It’s been a long night here, and a long night there, and these long long legs are d*** near everywhere. Hold up now, you look good, I will not lie, but if you ask where I’m staying tonight, I gotta be like oh baby, no baby, you got me all wrong baby, my baby’s already got all of my love.”

Grammer acknowledges the attractiveness of the woman he’s speaking to. He’s not trying to deny it or ignore it. He even says that “better men than me have failed, drinking from that unholy grail,” that people have slipped in this area. He’s also aware of his own weakness, that if he stays he “might not leave alone.”

He uses these reasons to say that he’s gotta get the heck out of there. Grammer told the Miami Herald this about the inspiration behind the song:

Well, you know I’m married now. So when I go out on tour, well, there are always hot girls around. The song’s about staying honest and being like, “Yes, you are smoking hot, but I’m good. I got a lady at home who is incredible. It’s worth staying truthful.”

As with any temptation to sin, recognizing that they exist is the first step. If you recognize that there is a chance you will slip up, you’re more likely to set the safeguards in place to avoid falling to the temptation.

2. Just because you want to do something doesn’t mean you should.

Song: “Wanna” by Christon Gray feat. JGivens

The first verse of this track focuses on Gray spending time in a club or restaurant or bar and seeing a beautiful woman. He shares the thought process he goes through in this time.

“I feel like it don’t matter anymore, getting used to the way the world turns. But I must say it’s spinnin’ really fast when I look at her. I just. If I was just a few years younger, girl I could be your boy wonder, you could be my prima donna, when I’m away from my wife and my daughter.”

He talks about how the wedding ring on his finger feels so heavy, and it would be so easy to slip it off. The chorus repeats, “Shouldn’t but I wanna, shouldn’t but I wanna.”

Just because we want to do something doesn’t meant we should do it. The word “should” can be a dangerous word because it could lead us to legalism or doing things we don’t necessarily need to do. But within marriage, you should not cheat. You say in your vows, “‘Till death do us part.” That doesn’t mean, “‘Till there’s someone else who looks better. ‘Till there’s a time where she doesn’t fulfill me. ‘Till there’s a moment when he doesn’t love me as he should.” There’s nothing wrong with saying “should” here.

There’s no ifs, ands or buts about it.

3. Your spouse is your cheerleader, and she should be cherished as such.

Song: “Cheerleader” by Omi

 

“All these other girls are tempting but I’m empty when you’re gone. And they say, ‘Do you need me? Do you think I’m pretty? Do I make you feel like cheating?’ And I’m like, ‘No, not really.’ Cause, oh, I think that I’ve found myself a cheerleader, she’s always right there when I need her.”

If you’ve chosen to settle down with someone for the rest of your life, hopefully you’ve seen something in that person that is worth giving the rest of your life to. What I’ve learned that I need to remember is that my future spouse is the best I’ll ever have, and because of that no one else is worth it. She’s my cheerleader. She’s the one who will support me until I die.

And this is the best reason to not cheat. If you’ve married well, you’ve married someone who will give everything they’ve got to the marriage. Will they be perfect at it? No. But they’re worth not cheating.

The song continues: “She gives me love and affection. Baby, did I mention you’re the only girl for me? No, I don’t need a next one. Mama loves you too, she thinks I made the right selection. Now all that’s left to do is just for me to pop the question.”

The best part about marriage is that you choose the person to spend the rest of your life with. Things will not be perfect, will never be perfect. But the point of marriage isn’t to have a perfect situation. It’s to have a partner to wander through the rest of your life with, together, seeking after the best.


If you’re a Christian, you’re challenged to love and cherish your spouse. They’re your No. 1 priority. You’re called to sacrifice for and serve them. This isn’t an optional thing. This is the real deal. It’s a real deal I’m stepping into pretty soon, and I’m so excited. I can’t think of cheating on my soon-to-be-wife.

But I can’t assume that I’m immune. As Andy Grammer said, “Better men than me have failed.” I’ve got to keep these things in mind so that I can stay true to my lady love.

What Christmastime Has Taught Me About Love and Marriage

One word that is associated very much with Christmas is “give.”

It’s all over the place. We give gifts to one another. We give time towards hanging out with family. God gives Jesus to us for the salvation of our sins.

It’s all indicative of sacrifice, showing giving up something for the better of someone else. We give our money to stores so we can give gifts to others. God gives up His Son so we can find eternal life one day.

One thing that being engaged during this season has taught me is that, within marriage, I need to act like it’s Christmas all year round.

Ephesians 5:25 says: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That simple idea of a husband loving his wife like Christ loved the church, giving of Himself for her, is what marriage is supposed to look like in a nutshell. There’s a continual attitude of sacrifice and love, echoing the love that God showed for us in Christ on the cross.

And Christmas is a great time to reflect on those things. We can think about the gifts we give to our spouse/finacé(e)/significant other as a reflection of the gift God gives to us. We can think about going with them to the in-laws/future in-laws not as a chore, but as a joyous occasion to celebrate the season and to celebrate the bond of family.

By the way, I love my future in-laws. It’s not a chore for me at all. Just wanted to clear that up.

Christmas is a season of giving. So let’s see how we can echo the giving spirit of Christmas within our own romantic relationships not just in December, but year-round.

Don’t Give Up: Even When Relationships Are Stressing You Out

“Actually, there is a word for that. It’s love. I’m in love with her, okay? If you’re looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it’s love.”

I’ve mentioned before how one of my favorite shows is How I Met Your Mother. Just in case you’ve missed the posts where I’ve mentioned it before, it’s a show about Ted Mosby, a young guy living in NYC trying to find the woman of his dreams, the mother of his kids. It’s narrated by an older Ted Mosby to his two kids. It’s him saying to his kids, “Hey, here’s how I met your mother.” Classic.

Ted Mosby is a romantic. Easily. Throughout the whole series you see him pining for different women. Sometimes it’s a mess.

But one instance that strikes me so deeply is early on in season one. He’s dating a girl named Natalie, someone with whom he has a messy history, for the second time. The first time he broke up with her, he dumped her on her birthday via a message on her answering machine with a bunch of people in her apartment waiting to surprise her hearing every word. After they restart dating, Ted suddenly says, “I have to break up with her…She’s terrific but I have to break up with her…I should be in love with her, but I’m not feeling that thing. It’s ineffable.”

They had only dated – this second time around – for three weeks. Ted’s issue in this episode was that he was basing all his decisions on feelings and giving up really easily. It reminded me how easily people give up on relationships.

True, Ted is kinda clueless half the time. But just look at the statistics on divorce. Some studies say it’s 50 percent of marriages, some say it’s less. Either way, people give up on relationships all the time.

Sometimes giving up on relationships is what needs to be done. Sometimes it’s just not going anywhere. But there are two instances when giving up isn’t an option.

When you’re married, you don’t give up.

There are specific exceptions that are really hard and messy to deal with here, but 99 percent of the time, you say, “Till death do us part,” and you stick with that.

The American Psychological Association says that 40-50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. That’s crazy. That’s a lot of people giving up.

I can’t speak specifically to the difficulties that come within marriage because I’m still a few months away from experiencing it myself. But all that I’ve heard is that marriage is hard, and that it can be somewhat easy to want to ditch it.

But all I’ve heard about quitting marriage is that it’s not worth it.

As I’ve thought about the possibility of being married, I can think of several reasons why one would want to quit: arguments that never seem to end, the financial difficulty of managing money for two people, and many more. But when you say, “I do,” you’re committing for life.

One thing I’m learning about love is that it’s more about commitment. When you say, “I love you,” it’s more than a feeling. It’s saying, “Hey, I’m committing to you. I’m promising to stick with you, no matter how I feel. Even if I don’t feel the love.” Love means commitment more than anything else. Yes, there are feelings in there too, but it’s more about a promise. Love is a promise. What I’ve heard is that going through the tough times will only make your relationship stronger.

Don’t give up.

Don’t give up just because you’re scared.

Fear of commitment/relationships is one of the most powerful fears out there. I’ve experienced it in my own life, and had to overcome it to start pursuing my now-fiancée.

Fear can be a powerful motivator, but it can also be a powerful de-motivator. It can suck the life and desire and drive out of you.

I know how terrifying commitment can be. You’re offering to give yourself up for someone else.

But I can tell you from personal experience that it’s worth it. The months that I have spent dating and now engaged to my fiancée have been hard sometimes, but they’ve also been incredibly joyful and rewarding. I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.

So if you’ve got the opportunity to pursue a romance, but you’re sacred, please, don’t give up. Push on.

Don’t give up.

On Engagement: The Gospel and Christmas + An Announcement

If marriage is symbolic of the relationship between God and man once justification has happened, what is engagement?

This is the question I was asking myself this morning as I pondered my own engagement, which started around 5:45 p.m. yesterday. I asked my girlfriend if she would marry me, and she said yes. It’s a pretty big deal. Here’s a picture of us below:

IMG_2386

Once it was posted on Facebook a few hours later, the notifications started pouring in: comments on the photo, comments on the “life event” and hundreds and hundreds of likes. I was trying to figure out how I could write about this (typical writer of me), and I had this thought.

Engagement is such an announcement. I’ve had Facebook and Instagram notifications out the wazoo. And I’m so thankful for all of them. I’m thankful for all the people who love and care for me enough to think about Sarah and me.

But of course, I had to think of some spiritual tie-in. And I thought of Christmas.

We often think about Christmas as an announcement that Christ has come and that the forgiveness of sins is at hand. And that’s what I think of when I think about engagement.

Giving Sarah a diamond ring means I’m planning on marrying her. It means I’m planning on making a lifelong commitment. It means I’m committing to be committed. And that’s wild for me, because I’m terrified of commitment, I’m terrified of absolutes.

But when I look at Christmas, I see an announcement. It’s announcing that a wedding is coming, a relationship and a unity is approaching, between God and man. It’s one based on unconditional love, one based not on feeling and emotion but on commitment and faithfulness. It’s God committing to be committed.

2 Timothy 2:13 says this about God: “If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.” God is faithful. He can’t stop being faithful. As Sarah and I prepare for marriage, I’m going to hope that I can be faithful as God is to me. He’s my guide for marriage.

Marriage is designed to reflect the Gospel, first and foremost. And I certainly hope Sarah and I can reflect the grace of God and the relationship between God and man in our relationship.

So whenever you see an engagement posting on Facebook, I encourage you to think about Christmas. Jesus coming is God saying, “Hey, relationship is upon you. Get ready. Prepare yourself. It’s going to be awesome.”


Just for fun, here’s a video I showed to Sarah before I proposed to her:

I Want to Have Kids One Day, But It Freaks Me Out. What Should I Do?

Across the street from my office building is a church. Each day there’s a childcare service at the church that lets their kids play on the playground outside. I see them every morning as I come into work.

Yesterday as I left work, I pictured that my child was over there and that I could see them playing. I had to stop. It gave me so much joy, and my heart was filled with love for that child. A child I don’t even have yet.

Being an unmarried dude, one of the common questions when it comes to my future is “How many kids do you want to have?” I’ve always been of the mindset of no more than three. I was one of three and I think my parents had plenty to handle when it came to us, so I never became that guy who wanted to haul around 4-6 kids in a minivan. I’ll deal with three though.

But something I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older is that having kids scares the poop out of me. Don’t get me wrong, I still want to have them. I’ve heard there’s unspeakable joy that comes from having kids of your own, like it’s the first thing you’ve every truly loved without reservation or hesitation. But it scares me!

How will I be prepared? How will I handle all the responsibility? What if they don’t believe in Jesus? What if they hate me? What if they won’t leave? What if they leave before I want them to? What if they don’t obey me?

It scares me. And I don’t write this trying to get you who read this to console me with things like this:

  • “You’re going to be a great dad.”
  • “You’ll change your mind.”
  • “You’ll be more comfortable when you’re there.”

Not that these things haven’t helped me in the past, because they do speak to me.

I worry about whether or not I’m going to be a great dad. I’m naturally doubtful of my own abilities in a number of things, so it makes sense that I’ll worry that I won’t be a good enough dad. My mind right now tells me that I’m scared to death that I won’t change my mind and that I’ll continue to be freaked out. And I guess I’ll be comfortable, but I won’t know until I’m there.

Here’s the point I’m trying to make: Having kids excites me and scares me. And that’s OK! If you’re like me and currently single and kid-less, and you’re freaked out, that’s entirely natural. It’s entirely OK.

At the end of the day, it’s a faith issue. Just like getting married, taking a job, changing careers, trusting Jesus, having kids, I’ve learned, is a step of faith where I’m stepping out and saying to God, “I’m trusting You with this in my future. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m trusting You.”

It’s just another thing I’ve got to learn to trust God with. And as someone with anxiety, it’s not easy, but it’s a must. That’s not to say that I have to always be comfortable with it. But if you, the reader, take anything away from this, it’s this: trust. Especially when it’s hard or difficult. Or uncomfortable.

As I thought about finishing this post, I was lost until I remembered something about our God.

See, God has kids. Many. Millions. If we’re buying the stat that two billion people in the world are Christians, that’s a lot of kids. Romans 8:14 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” He’s adopted each and every one of them into His family. We weren’t born into His family, but He chooses us and brings us into the fold. That’s such a powerful image!

He didn’t wait for us to be perfect. He didn’t ask for us to have everything together before adopting us. He simply picked us up. And He loves us and cares for us in ways we can’t even understand. And He promises to support those of His kids down on Earth who are raising kids of our own.

So if God decides to bless me with kids (it’s not a guarantee), I trust Him not only to get me through it, but to model for me how to raise my kids with how He’s raising me, a rebellious, selfish, disobedient punk.

Believe it or not, I still want kids.