1. With These Rings

1. With These Rings

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

With These Rings

If you don’t like something change it;
if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.

~Mary Engelbreit

I was a new pastor’s wife when my husband took me to a small town in Oklahoma. We fought until we learned to love each other during the two years we spent there. I was the new girl in town. I knew no one and barely knew my husband, Brad. He was busy with his church, and there I was, stuck. No money, no job and no friends. I was uncomfortable in my new role and resented it when others referred to me as “the preacher’s wife.” I failed to see what an honor that was.

The parishioners made attempts to befriend me, but I was too busy being lonely and angry, and was bound and determined to let Brad know it. I pouted and packed, whined and packed, and threw things at him and packed. “I’m leaving!” I would scream when he came home. With the fifty cents I had in my pocket and no gas money, I don’t know where I thought I was going, but I was adamant.

“Don’t do me any favors,” he would reply, which only caused me to turn on my heels and shout, “I’m staying, and don’t try and stop me!” Who did he think he was? I wasn’t about to let him kick me out.

Somewhere between my daily suitcase-packing episodes, I remembered that I had promised to love him for better or for worse. In desperation, I found ways to entertain myself. I spent hours picking from the six pecan trees in the front yard. I quickly realized that even though we had no money, the pecans made great Christmas gifts. I even found a job. Then my husband came home one day and announced that he had an interview at a church in Louisiana. I had just learned to live in Oklahoma!

True to form, I pouted and griped on the way to Louisiana. Then something stopped me in my tracks. We were on our way through Texas when we ran right into what looked like a giant crystal bowl. An ice storm had hit the area a few days earlier, and it was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. And there I was, gnawing on my husband. Somewhere between Denton and Sulphur, I had taken off my wedding rings and tucked them into the folds of my skirt so that I could apply some hand cream. The ice we were skidding on distracted me just enough that I forgot to put my rings back on.

Three hours later I looked down and realized that I had lost my rings out on the highway when I had stepped out of the car to take a picture of a horse and buggy driving by. But which highway? Everything looks the same in an ice storm, especially when you are in unfamiliar country.

“I’ll buy you another ring,” my husband said.

I knew he meant well, but the ring was a family heirloom. “That ring can’t be replaced,” I cried.

“Honey, we don’t even know where to begin looking,” he said. “No, we’re NOT going back,” he insisted as he turned the car around and headed back to look for the rings.

It was hours before we found a location that seemed familiar. Occasionally some well-meaning person would pull his car over to the side of the road, roll down his window and yell, “Hey, buddy, what’d ya lose?” At one point, there must have been ten cars stopped on the side of the road, all abandoned by the occupants who had joined in the search. But with the sun going down, it was obvious that our chances of finding the rings were slim. I was crushed.

“Face it, Honey, they’re gone,” Brad said. “I know you’re upset. I promise to try and find a suitable replacement.”

I knew he was right. The walk in the cold that day had given me time to think about the day’s events. I played the scene over and over in my mind, and what I saw was not a pretty sight. I had ranted and raved, nagged and wailed, and acted like a spoiled brat. I took a good long look at my husband pacing back and forth in the freezing cold. He had driven three hours back to this desolate area in the middle of a treacherous ice storm without one thought for himself, attempting to find something that was important to me.

The rings might be gone, but there could never be a suitable replacement for my husband. Suddenly, the rings seemed so unimportant. I resolved right then and there to stop thinking only of myself.

It was at that very moment that I opened the car door and began to step inside. Something on the floor caught my eye. My rings! I grabbed them and waved them in the air. Brad rushed to my side and put them back on my finger. “This is where these rings belong,” he whispered. I looked into his eyes, and knew that I had found what I was looking for. It wasn’t my rings that were lost that day — I was the one who had been missing.

Life in the pastorate hasn’t changed. The only thing that has changed is me. We still move around more than I like. And I still have to start over again every time we do. But I’ve learned to appreciate when people call me “the preacher’s wife,” because etched into my mind is a frozen road in Texas, and a voice that whispers, “This is where these rings belong.”


~Sharon M. Palmer
Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul

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