That's right, I'm that girl...you know, the one in the office who works most of the day, save the 10-15 (okay, 20 minutes) of trolling through BuzzFeed, Cambio, or some other equally addicting site, periodically squealing "I SO do that!" or "That's so TRUE!" while my amused co-workers gather around my computer screen. I love them. Many of the articles are either so inspiring or insanely hilarious that I can't get enough.
Recently, however, I have noticed a trend in the subject matter of said articles during my daily "troll." In the past week, I have literally read over a half of dozen articles gone viral about men and women who have stopped wearing their purity rings, and, as a result, are now free, whole, and independent human beings who finally know who they are and what they want out of life. And while I in no way want to belittle the personal journeys, struggles, and victories documented by these writers, I have to say that I have clicked off of most of these articles...frankly, more than a little annoyed. See, I am a 22-year old college student. I am an International Business major. I have lived all over the world. I go out on the town on weekends. I know waaaay too many people on Facebook. I have a very active Netflix account. And, oh yeah, I wear a purity ring.
Now before you roll your eyes and think that this is just another "holier than thou" rant, let me tell you why this ring (a ring that, according to many of today's articles, is the dangerous source of oppression, self-hate, and false expectations) isn't leaving my finger any time soon:
1) BECAUSE I KNOW WHO I AM.
I may not have all the bases covered, but I know what I like, what I don't like, what I want, what I don't want, who I am, who I'm not, and most of all, what I deserve. I, and only I, have the choice to portray these things to the world. I, and only I, can show people how beautiful and valuable I actually am. Ifanyone (a guy, a boss, a preacher, a family member, or even a friend) is making me feel less than I know that I am, it is because I am allowing it. And I refuse to allow it. Does wearing my purity ring make me who I am? No, it reflects it. I am confident. I am valuable. I accept that I am not perfect and that sexuality is God given and nothing to be ashamed or disgusted by, but I hold myself to a standard within that...a standard of not giving my heart, soul, and body to everyone who offers. That is who I am, and that is what my ring reflects.
2) BECAUSE I KNOW WHAT MY RING ACTUALLY MEANS.
It's so funny. If you ask most people why they even wear purity rings and what they mean, most people will say "I'm vowing to not have sex before marriage." That's it...Just like that....like they just vowed to enter a nunnery or something without any explanation. And God forbid you press further, because most of those people mumble something incoherently about the bible and their youth group if you ask the simple question, "Why?" The truth is that wearing a GENERIC purity ring with a GENERIC vow to abstain from marriage without actually knowing why is actually just as shallow as it sounds. It's like saying that you only vote one political party because that's what your family does, what your friends do, and what your neighbor down the street told you to do. It's more than a little naive and doesn't do anyone, including you, any credit.
See, while I am proud to wear a purity ring, I don't give the ring more power than it actually has. I don't put my value or self worth on my ring. I wear my purity ring solely as a reminder. Not to be the perfect Christian. Not to be the perfect daughter, or the perfect girlfriend, or the perfect wife. My ring is a reminder to treat myself as if I am worth something, to treat myself with honor and respect, and to never give up on that (In doing so, I believe that I'm showing God how grateful I am for his creation...this quirky little human being that He made with a purpose).
3) BECAUSE I KNOW WHY I PUT MY RING ON IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Ironically, in most of the articles that I have read recently on purity rings, I noticed that their qualms were not with the actual ring itself, but with the reasons they put it on in the first place. Most were pressured by the parents, by their church, by their youth group, or by their groups of friends (who, honestly, just wanted them because the Jonas Brothers had them) to buy these little circles of metal and say a little prayer as if they were joining a cult. Of course, years later, they realize that doing anything just to please people (especially when it comes to big topics like beliefs, sexuality, or I don't know, say...your identity) is a pretty bad idea, so they chuck the little things into the trash and call themselves finally "free" from the bonds of false expectations and self-destruction.
But I know what my purity ring means, and I know why I put it on in the first place. I wasn't pressured by my church, my parents didn't even know that purity rings were a thing, I was never super impressed with the Jonas Brothers (Ok, maybe Nick), and most of my friends were and still are from public schools in New Orleans and a mix of atheistic and apathetic. I wanted a reflection, a reminder of the incredibly beautiful and valuable woman that I knew God had made me to be. So, once I finally got my babysitting money together, I went out and I bought one. And I haven't taken it off since.
4) BECAUSE I STILL BELIEVE IN LOVE.
I am not one of those girls who have grown up in the church and are now convinced that they have to wait for this one perfect "John Stamos"-esque prince (who loves God, of course) to come riding up on a white horse and save them from a life of perpetual "singlehood." I don't believe in fairy tales. Don't get me wrong. I believe in "The One." I just believe that "The One" is a choice. God is wonderful, loving, and caring. He is also a giver of free will. I know that there is someone out there that God will, one day, place on my path. I also know that every day I am with that person, I will have to choose him as "The One." I will have to work, sacrifice a little, trust more than I am comfortable with, and open myself up more than I am used to...because that, folks, is love. That is what my purity ring represents. A daily reminder to really love...myself, those around me, and even those who I have yet to meet. I guess you can say that's the "purity" in the purity ring.
Because God is love. He loves us. We don't have to earn it. We don't have beg for it. Honestly, none of us even remotely deserve it, but that doesn't change a thing. He loves us just the same. Knowing that, accepting that, will free you from any oppression or pressure you may feel to try to be something that you are not...with or without a ring.
5) BECAUSE IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT THE RING.
This is for those of you who are ready to toss out your purity rings after hearing Jonas Brothers interviews, reading "exposé" articles, or even seeing your Facebook news feeds filled to the brim with anti-purity rings testimonies. First, I want you to take a moment. Ask yourself why you bought those rings in the first place. Ask yourself if the ring is actually the problem, and if it isn't, be honest with yourself. Unfortunately, so many people have been hurt as Christians or by people who call themselves Christians that it is hard to tell who or what is to blame for their pain. I don't have all of the answers. What I do know is that if we are honest with ourselves, there is a good chance that it doesn't have anything to do with the little metal ring on our finger.
As for me, I will continue to love God and people without shame or abandon, sing at the top of my lungs to my radio, laugh at ridiculously corny jokes, and continue to write these blogs...all while wearing my purity ring. I got my reasons.