It don’t mean a thing, if it ain’t got that ring …

For a variety of reasons, I haven’t been wearing my wedding ring much lately. Especially over the summer, it has rarely found its way to my hand, mostly because of the heat. My hands swell and I have trouble getting it off, so most days, I just haven’t bothered. And if I know I’m not going to leave the house, then I usually leave it off.

When I do leave the house, even if it’s just for a walk around the block with Isabelle, though, I like to have it on. Maybe that’s just for appearances’ sake, but I feel like anyone I meet might notice I don’t have it on and assume I’m a single mom, pregnant out of wedlock or something like that. I wonder if that’s because I might mistakenly assume the same thing about someone I see with children who isn’t wearing a wedding band.
I find myself often looking at people’s ring fingers — so I can pass judgment on them or just gather information? I remember after we moved to Pennsylvania last year, we couldn’t determine right away if our pastor was married because he wasn’t wearing a wedding ring. We speculated for a few weeks, until we met his wife, and later learned he’d lost his ring on a mission trip to Brazil. I think he got a new one for their anniversary a few months later. (If I’ve got the story wrong, correct me!)
Wearing my ring or not wearing it doesn’t make me any less married, and I know there are some cultures where rings aren’t part of a wedding ceremony at all. And even though I know a ring or no ring won’t change my actions or the fact that I’m married, I still feel the need to wear it out in public.
This makes me think about Christianity and how we know people are Christians or not. Does it depend upon some outward indication, like that they’re wearing a cross necklace or a Christian-themed T-shirt, they go to church or carry a Bible? Is it more like a state of mind, like when I’m not wearing my wedding ring, I still know and act like I’m married, so similarly, whether anything in my appearance says it or not, I still know and act on the truth of my relationship with Christ?
The Bible gives some ways we can tell. One that comes to mind is found in John 13:35: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Our youth group will be discussing this issue in the next couple of weeks, so I’ll be studying it more during that time. I’m just beginning to believe that telling someone you’re a Christian isn’t enough anymore because it has sort of lost its meaning, or it has a different meaning to different people. But maybe like the wedding ring thing, I’m just making dangerous assumptions without knowing the truth.
How do you tell people about what you believe, and what does “Christian” mean to you?

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