Kate is concerned that our guest isn’t wearing a wedding ring.
“Is she married or not married?” She asks in a whisper. Well, it’s a whisper for Kate.
Which means that everyone in the room is now paying attention.
Nikki giggles and answers in her thick Australian accent.
“Yes. I am married, but I don’t usually wear my ring. It’s very special, though.” Kate nods like she doesn’t believe her.
She’s five, and when you’re five you play by the rules.
The rules say no ring means the marriage isn’t legit.
I wait until Kate goes to bed and then I ask Nikki about it, because there was something in her voice that made me think there was a story hiding in there somewhere.
“It’s actually a really amazing story.” She starts out. I’m already sold on the story because of the way her voice lilts up at the end like she’s asking me a question. She’s moving around on the keyboard of my computer now and I see her pull up some pictures online.
She spins it around to face me when she finds the page she was looking for and there was absolutely no way I was going to hide my, umm, enthusiasm. I planned to say something along the lines of, “Oh that’s just lovely” and maybe make my voice get higher so she would feel at home with me. But it came out more elegant, like,
“Oh my WORD!!!! That sucker is HUGE!!!”
No lilt. No shame. Just a girl who was face to the screen with a diamond the size of a state.
She giggled. I’m going to go out on a limb and say she’s seen the googly-eyed look before.
“So, my grandfather used to mine stones in Australia. He owned a piece of land there and this particular stone has quite a history.” I lean in to listen and I realize I’m acting creeptastic and staring at her so I back up. Play it cool. It lasts all of four seconds.
She smiles as I unashamedly motion my hands in a forward motion to urge her on.
“He mined this stone, and when my mother was 13 years old, he let her cut a stone with him. It was hard work, you know, because you cut a diamond with another diamond and you just have to keep doing it until it gets all the facets you want it to.”
Actually, I don’t know. But I shake my head because creeperific is back in town and what in the world could be cooler than a girl talking about a mystery diamond. Oh wait, I know. A girl who sounds like Nicole Kidman talking about a mystery diamond.
“And this was the one they cut together. The very first one she ever cut with her father. She wore it for my whole life, until I got married. Then, we had it put in another setting and now it’s mine.” She smiled and looked back at the screen. It was a sweet story and that would have been enough for me to make a few phone calls and see if we could get a Lifetime movie in the works, but she wasn’t finished yet.
“Can I ask a rude question?” I say, and then I realize that whenever you phrase a sentence this way you have already asked a rude question and really there is no going back.
She is so friendly and open that I know she’s going to answer without being offended, so I dig right in and ask how many carats it is. I mean, burning minds want to know. The other guests in the room get quiet and start to listen. They’ve wondered themselves, I’m sure. And the door was open. Come on crew, let’s walk on in.
“I actually have no idea. That’s kind of part of the mystery of the stone. I actually don’t even know for sure that it’s a diamond.” She keeps talking about some other cool stone it might be but I’ve already skipped ahead in my mind to this great jeweler who we know in Nashville. I’m making mental notes about setting her up with a little appraisal because I think it’s going to be an “oh-happy-day” kind of experience, but I’m jarred by the end of her thought.
“…and I made a promise that I would never find out.”
Forget Lifetime. We’re going HBO on this one, baby.
I look at her with my mouth hanging open and I’m tongue-tied about where to go from here because who in the world has a wedding ring that their mother has worn for her entire life, and is sitting at her house RIGHT THIS SECOND and she can’t find out what it is?
I’ll tell you who.
Nikki the Australian girl.
She knows I won’t be able to form sentences because this is too good to be true. I stir my drink around so the ice hits the side because I’m well aware that we have now proceeded from creepy-creeptalicious into “I would rather not be a body in your trunk” territory and there’s nothing that says I’m cool like clinking ice cubes. Yes?
“So here’s the story.”
Thank you Jesus.
“My grandfather wanted to teach my mother a valuable lesson about the difference between value and worth. So as they cut this stone together, he made her promise she would never find out what its worldly value was. He told her that it wasn’t the amount of money it could fetch, but rather the fact that it had worth. He had mined it on his own land and they had cut it together. That was what gave it worth-not the dollar amount.”
You could have heard a pin drop. Or, you know, ice.
I needed to come up with something spectacular to say in this moment, because how often do you hear a story THIS good?
“SHUT. UP. “
Classy. That’s all I have to say about that.
“No, seriously. So I have honored that promise and I’ll never take it to a jeweler or anyone to see. Isn’t that neat?” (Insert lilty-Aussie voice which, let’s face it, has moved us right up into motion picture potential).
I did make a fool out of myself asking about four million questions after that, and later that night I kicked myself for not acting more poised and reserved about the whole thing, but she was as sweet as she could be and I don’t really think she minded.
It’s been weeks since I sat with Nikki upstairs in my house while the T.V. blared the latest headlines while I hung on her every word. I don’t remember much about the other things we discussed, but I do remember the spectacular lesson she gave me on the beauty of worth.
So many times in this life, we are convinced that its money, recognition, approval, accolades, or degrees that give us credibility and will make us feel like we’ve made it. And it’s easy to fall into the trap, because let’s face it-the world loves the shine. I get it. I mean, I GET it.
But what if we had something that was so precious that we didn’t even let the world tell us what it was worth?
We would protect it, keep it close, and pray that it would always be ours, wouldn’t we? This is how I want to think of my walk with Christ…like this stone. I can torment myself over the questions I have for Him, the doubts I feel sometimes, the genuine curiosity about my life. But instead of spending my days chasing after answers, I have decided that I have something much more beautiful.
I have the stone.
Given to me as a gift I never could have earned.
Worn proudly by His bride.
Cut at great cost, over and over again until the sun fell down and the curtain was torn in two.
Oh, precious One.
May I be a reflection of Your great worth all the days that You give me.
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious…1 Peter 2:7