My purity ring– the one my mom gave me in ninth grade with my name etched on the inside– isn't on my finger anymore. Why? Well, honestly, sometimes I took it off for sports practice and forgot to put it on again, but there's another reason I don't wear it:
I'm not waiting.
Let me explain. I believe people are invaluable, marriage is sacred, and purity rings can be symbols of a beautiful commitment, but...
I don't wear mine anymore because sometimes I'd look at it and wonder, "When will my life begin?"*
Then I discovered the people who followed and served Jesus when He walked the earth (and today): the rich, the poor, Jews, Gentiles, men, women (which was scandalous in Jesus' day), tax collectors, fishermen, single people, married couples, and anybody who accepted the invitation of "follow me."
These people did not wait to be richer, more popular, or further along to live and literally give their lives for the Kingdom of God. Their stories are inspiring and challenging. As I would twist my ring around my finger or when I tell myself that it'll get easier once I reach a certain point, I could not (and cannot) shake the feeling that something was missing; there is more.
Thousands of year later, people still know, love, and follow this God-man who was single, poor, and sacrificial & who calls us to follow Him and die to ourselves every single day. So, I don't want to wait to start living, learning, or being brave in Christ. Despite what people might say, we don't need to wait for someone or something to complete us. Jesus has done that and nobody can compare. We are completed by the One who took our place, knows our pain, and calls us toward Him on the waves.
Friends: Life does not begin upon receiving a diamond ring. A diploma or degree or job doesn't lead to ultimate joy. I've been told being called "Mom" or "Dad" is one of the best things (and I'm sure it is), but I'm hesitant to believe it's absolutely everything.
None of these things should be the hallmark of a full, thriving, or complete life. At this very moment, you are valuable. Your life is valuable, too. Full stop. Could we grow by viewing and celebrating different roles and stories (in many different forms) as valuable and essential, not irregular or lacking? There is no "level" to reach, and every role is needed in the body of Christ. Above all, however, our most important and motivating title should be follower of Jesus.
Truthfully, I have waited before. I've told myself to wait until high school started. Once it began, graduation seemed like the next best starting point. Sometimes I even tell myself waiting until next week will be better. And, to continue in candor, I have shied away from who He's calling me to become and what He might be calling me to do. I have quenched the Spirit; I have missed opportunities. This terrifies and spurs me.
If we wait, we will never begin. This type of waiting is different than patience, prayerful seeking, or contentment. Instead, it is born of fear, the feeling of inadequacy, and sometimes selfishness. We cannot wait for the day we have it all together or fully arrive or know all the answers because that day will never come.
When we wait because of fear, we forget God is with us. When we wait because we feel inadequate, we forget we're given the power of the Holy Spirit. When we wait to preserve comfort or safety, we forget Jesus doesn't call us to either. When we wait because we aren't "there" yet, we forget we're on a journey.
If your heart's afraid of being hurt again... If you can't see how you could take even a small, shaky step forward... If you just. don't. know... Say this out loud, letting it sink deep in your soul: Jesus equips me. He is with me; He is faithful; He is enough.
When will my life begin? It begins in the Light and Life of all people. Life continues to begin when we learn to lose it in a thousand small or significant ways. Life begins when we lay it down; love grows when we give it away.
Seasons are part of life. (I thank God for that.) Some seasons are for waiting on the Lord, seeking Him, and being patient. Some are for chasing hard after Him in new ways. In both and the in-between, though, may we be people who actively wait by following and pressing in, not stepping back, holding back, or sitting on our hands.
Friends, we cannot afford to be paralyzed by inadequacy, passive because of fear or comfort or uncertainty, or paused until we reach a certain place in life. The Kingdom is here! There is life abundant!
* Yes, that's an unintentional Tangled reference.