the engagement ring realization

{copyright World Vision, photographer Matthew Paul Turner}

You guys, I don’t know what to do with this trip. Sunday I ate a corn dog at the state fair that costs more than Amila (above) earns in a day climbing trees and harvesting coconuts. And that’s ok. I mean, that has to be ok, right? If I am not feeling called to sell everything and move, it has to be ok for me to live in my home, eat my food and celebrate with my family. At the same time, I can’t just continue on exactly as I was. I am not exactly as I was. I am changed, so what do I do in this really uncomfortable in between space?

How do I go to bed at night knowing that children will go bed tonight, get bit by a mosquito and contract a preventable disease that will eventually kill them?

I don’t know, you guys. I don’t freaking know.

I went on a trip with World Vision. I was flown halfway around the world to see injustice and poverty and what can be done about it. Now I’m just supposed to put my 1 carat diamond engagement ring back on and get on with my life.

Putting my engagement ring back on was hard.

Do you know why people take off engagement rings or other jewelry when traveling, especially to impoverished areas? Because it is a show of wealth that can make you a target for theft or robbery. But not here in my city. Here I am average, my wealth is not remarkable or flashy. Here, diamond rings are the norm.

I can’t unsee what I saw, unknow what I now know, but I can’t cease to exist, either. I can’t reasonably cancel our appointment to have granite counters installed this Thursday. I can’t act like DanO doesn’t work hard and earn every single dollar he is paid. I can’t stop buying organic milk for my children just because I know that children 10 timezones over don’t have clean water.

I can be responsible. I can give more extravagantly and cheerfully than I used to. I can be profoundly grateful for all I have – my  food, my children’s health, my husband’s work, my counter tops. I can be moved to act by continuing our sponsorship of Odish, writing him, praying for him, encouraging him, and blessing their family with extra monetary gifts on occasion.

I can tell you, my friends and readers (who are friends I just haven’t met yet) about what I saw and what we can do.

I can click-clack the keyboard with my engagement-ringed hand and write the words of hope and a call to act for all the world (or at least my corner of the intewebs) to hear. I can and I must.

Please forgive me if you are done with this message; if you have heard it, processed it, and already chosen the best course of action for yourself and your family. I still have some processing, writing and sharing to do as I ease back into a life where I can wear my engagement ring.

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Still processing, too? Take a moment and consider sponsoring a child through World Vision. We can make a difference one child, one community, one country at a time.

15 Responses to “the engagement ring realization”

  1. Jill

    Excellent post. I think experiences in our lives are valuable tools to be thankful for what we have (as you said) and to look and see what can be done (as you said). There are many times I stop and think before I make a decision about what I want/need in light of what I know is going on in the world…thanks to people like you who talk about it, who remind us that our little world is a part of something bigger! Thanks for sharing your experiences with us!

  2. TheNextMartha

    I live in an area where your ring is used as a judgement tool. I stopped wearing my engagement ring about 10 years ago.

  3. HopefulLeigh

    It sounds like you’re right where you should be, Allison. Figuring out what you can do, amidst the new knowledge you’ve received. Praying as you continue to transition back into the US.

  4. erinannie

    One year ago I did a month long humanitarian trip to Cambodia. I have both felt guilty and blessed every single day since. I make it a goal each month to choose not to spend money on eating out, or clothes, or a movie – any little sort of extra- to send back to the shelter I worked at. I know for a fact that my $25 that I won’t miss, or the movie I didn’t see and means nothing to me, really does feed a family for a month.
    I’d much rather feed a family and save a life, than send more money to Hollywood!

  5. Amanda

    Your statement “I can be responsible” reminds me of a Brooke Fraser song called Albertine. She says “Now that I have seen/I am responsible/Faith without deeds is dead.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gh-0Kt6ZjXc

    I haven’t seen with my own eyes in person, but I do feel responsible. I know the need, I know I can do something, I need to respond. Why is that so hard? It’s so hard to give up my comforts, my wants, for someone else’s needs. But because Jesus gave up all for me, I am responsible. Processing with you… praying my husband and I can comitt to sponsoring a child. If it means giving up cable, or giving up one restaurant dinner a month, will my life really be that much worse off? I think not. xoxo

  6. Molly

    Before I was married I ventured to Afghanistan and had a similar experience when I returned. Not with rings, but with EVERYTHING else.
    Eventually, of course, time passed and the guilt has worn off. Although I’m not quite sure that’s a good thing:(.


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