Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Lesson of the Ring

I had an experience this week that I don't care to repeat.  I accidentally put my grandmother's wedding band on the wrong finger.  I don't know why.  I wasn't thinking I guess.  It went on just fine, so I didn't think anything of it...until a few hours later when I absentmindedly began twisting the ring on my finger, only to discover it was fairly snug.  I then realized what I'd done and tried to take it off.  It wouldn't budge.  I tried and tried and tried to no avail.  We were out to eat at the time.  I went to the ladies' room so that I could get some soap on my finger to work the ring free.  It didn't budge.  I kept trying harder and harder but the only thing that happened was an increasingly sore finger that was swelling up rapidly.  Nothing I did made a difference.  In fact, it just made the problem worse.

When we returned home, I posted my plight on facebook and received several responses on how to solve my problem ranging from olive oil to windex to cutting the ring off.  There was no way I was going to do that.  After all, at the worst, all I really needed to do was drop 15 pounds and it would not be a problem!  I could still bend my ever-swelling digit.  I had feeling still.  It wasn't that bad.  So what if my skin was stretching tighter as the swelling increased.  There was no way I was going to cut off my grandmother's ring!

I was mad at myself for moving the ring in the first place.  If I hadn't have done that, I wouldn't have found myself in this predicament.  If only...  The "if onlies" were getting to me.  And I was getting frustrated and more upset about the whole situation.

Fast forward less than 24 hours, an we found ourselves sitting in the ER with Peyton.  She had another "episode" yesterday morning where she had extreme difficulty breathing and was changing color as she struggled for breath.  She recovered at home, but we took her to the hospital anyway.  As we sat in the room, I could tell my finger was getting worse.  The longer I sat there and was bothered by my finger, the more I realized that the only way out of this predicament was to have the ring cut off.  I desperately wanted to avoid this.  This ring was my grandmother's and I got it after my mother passed away.  I felt like I was so stupid and that this was somehow me failing them in some way.  I couldn't help but feel how disappointed they would be in me.  Not to mention the fact that this was all happening at a time when I am really missing my mom.  A lot.

A nurse came in the room at one point as we were waiting and she asked if she could do anything for us.  I said, yes, but it didn't have anything to do with Peyton.  I asked if they had a ring cutter.  They did.  I took the above picture as I waited on the nurse to return.  I will say that as swollen as that looks, that is not the worst it was through this whole ordeal, but it was fast returning to that state.  As I waited, I opened the flashlight app on my iPhone and struggled to see the underside of the ring.  You see, the ring is engraved on the inside and I wanted no part in destroying that!  I was finally able to get a visual on the engraving and I made a mental note of where the ring could be cut.  The nurse returned.    She double checked with me that I'd tried alternative methods to remove the ring.  Trust me...we tried several methods.  It wasn't happening.  She made sure I knew that once it was cut, that was it.  Yes, I was well aware.  Fortunately, I have a friend who works in a local jewelry store and I have already consulted with her through facebook about the repair of the ring.  We found the spot for the nurse to cut.  I turned my head.  I wasn't scared of what was happening.  It wasn't going to hurt.  I just couldn't watch my grandmother's ring being cut.

As the cut was made, I could instantly feel the long awaited sweet relief.  The ring wasn't even off yet, but I could feel it.  The nurse pried the ends of the ring apart so it could be taken off my finger.  As soon as the cut was made, though, the swelling got worse.  I could feel my finger expanding.  While the circulation hadn't been cut off, I could still feel the blood flowing and the pressure releasing.  But it also hurt more with the ring off.

After the trauma of this event passed, I couldn't help but think that there was some deeper symbolism here.  A lesson maybe?  I thought to myself, how many times in life do we find ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable, yet we bear with the "uncomfortableness" because we think that we can handle it.  We think that we're above whatever the level of pain the situation might cause.  We think that if we can just "drop a few pounds" or do something that is relatively within our control, we've got it.  We'll just put up with and bear with the situation until we can fix it on our own.  

We might find ourselves getting all kinds of advice from all around.  It's all well-intentioned, and each individual thing might work or at least help somewhat.  But there's that inner voice that's saying that you really need to just "cut it off".  You know.  The inner voice that tells you what you need to do to resolve the situation that you should be listening to but that you think you're smarter than??  And if you'd just listened to it in the first place, you might have avoided even more pain and discomfort along the way??  Yeah.  That one.

Sometimes we just need to trust in that voice and listen to it.  Listen to it before the problem gets worse than it already is.  That voice you are hearing could be God's voice.  He wants what is best for you.  He wants you to hear His voice and to follow where He is leading you.  There's a pretty good chance that whatever way you have in your head that is going to solve the problem in a way that is better than His is not going to be better.  You see, God knows exactly what you need to do.  As our pastor often says, God is at work on a solution before we even know we have a problem.  He's got the answers.  We just need to stop and listen!

But, like finally taking the step to cut the ring off - the thing I knew was ultimately going to have to be done, when you do listen to God and follow what He desires, it doesn't necessarily mean that the path is going to be easy or pain free.  While we may experience the release from whatever bondage we find ourselves in, the thing that we need to do to get out of the predicament is often going to be accompanied by some amount of pain and discomfort in its own right.  And once the ties are severed, there may even be some residual pain for a while.  Some discomfort you might not have expected once you were freed from that bondage.  Things will get better as we follow where God is leading in that situation, but it's going to take time until the marks left behind from the thing that was holding you in chains disappear.  They marks may not even ever heal completely, but as each day passes, it will improve even if only ever so slightly. 

As we grow in our trust and faith in God, we should be develop an unwavering confidence in His ability to guide us through difficult situations and to lead us through to a place of healing.  He knows what is best for us - far more than we do ourselves.  If only we could just learn that earlier on in life - it would make things so much easier!

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