The Class Ring
The result of our deepest desires surrendered to a faithful God.
by Veda Thomas Hall
Persistent, paralyzing doubt gripped my mind as I agonized in prayer. Lord, is this opportunity to attend college Your desire or my own selfish desire?
Could a college education possibly be God’s direction at this time in my life while my children required so much of my time and attention?
I had married my high school sweetheart before graduation. By the time I turned 21, we had four children: Kristi, the oldest at age four; April, my two-year-old crippled from a birth defect; and Sarah and Sally, my four-month-old twins. With April unable to walk, it seemed as if I had triplets instead of twins.
But with her needing much of my attention and our frequent travels to and from doctor appointments together, hoping she’d walk someday, I had to keep the babies on a carefully followed scheduled. As anyone could see, I had a full plate.
Concerns at church
In addition to my concern over limited time for study, I worried what people in my church would think. Many of them critically judged any woman who attempted to do anything they thought took her time and devotion away from her husband, children, or household responsibilities.
Yet I longed to further my education and earn a college degree.
I wasn’t the only one who wanted that. “Don’t settle for a high school education,” Dad had exhorted me from my elementary years to high school.
Every evening at the dinner table as the family discussed the day’s activities and our plans for the future, he’d repeat, “Make something of yourself.” I can still hear my father’s voice pleading with me to want more out of life than he or my mother could achieve.
I could understand Dad’s reasoning. His father died at an early age. As the oldest, my father became responsible to provide for the rest of the family. He eventually joined the military but always regretted not having earned a college degree.
In mother’s footsteps
On the opposite side, my mother agreed with the mindset of those in my church, that marriage and motherhood are the ultimate goal and that you didn’t need a college education for those.
I decided to follow my heart, as well as what was acceptable within my church, and followed in my mother’s footsteps instead of pursuing my father’s counsel.
Regret and resolve
I gradually began to regret not listening to Dad. Though I was happily married and loved being a mother, something in my life was missing. I knew exactly what it was: a college education.
Still, I resolved to put my desires on hold temporarily, and possibly permanently, to care for my family.
Then when I least expected it, my husband came home from work with surprising news: “A college close to our area intends to offer evening classes in the fall at the high school. This may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for.”
My anxiety level rose from the mere mention of it. “I don’t know,” I replied hesitantly. “I suppose I could pray about it.” The chance to attend college in our area was more than I dared hope for, but I didn’t want to set myself up for a major disappointment if I couldn’t manage my time effectively to earn passing grades.
I also would have to either provide a Christlike response to the ridicule of my church community, and the disapproval of my mother, or make a decision outside God’s will for my life.
With spring beginning, I had a few months to decide about enrolling. My husband continued to encourage me to register. He promised to help with our children and the household responsibilities, and said together we’d deal with any negative opposition.
Based on our income, I qualified for grants to cover tuition, so money wasn’t an issue. One would think it would have been an easy decision, but the same excruciating uncertainties consumed my thoughts.
The days and weeks flew by, creating greater distress as the time approached to make a decision. Although the longing hadn’t weakened, I continued to experience a tremendous lack of peace as to whether this was God’s leading for my life.
On the final day of registration, I awoke with the same tormenting doubts.
In desperation, I knelt in prayer and pleaded with God, Dear Father, would You eradicate the nagging reservations tormenting me in such a way that it will be impossible for me to question Your leading? Inundate me with Your perfect peace to register for classes today. Otherwise, I’ll refuse to let myself deliberate any longer about a college education and trust that this isn’t Your direction for my life right now. Father, I surrender to Your perfect plan.
Before I rose, I heard a knock at the front door. When I opened it, there stood my next-door neighbor with a shiny gold class ring in the palm of her hand. “I think this is yours,” she said. “I found it down the side of the couch you gave me while I cleaned it this morning.”
Handing me the ring, she continued, “The initials are VT, so I figured it belongs to you.”
Answer to prayer
I stood there, amazed and speechless, gazing at the class ring inscribed with my initials. I lost it two years earlier. I thoroughly cleaned the couch several times, finding nothing. Six months prior to that morning, I purchased a new couch and gave my neighbor the old one. Though she said she cleaned it often, she had never discovered the ring.
Even more astonishing, she went on to explain, “I slipped my hand down the side of the couch, and when I pulled it out, the class ring was on my ring finger.”
Undeniably, I had received the answer to my prayer. Sobbing with relief, I explained, “You have no idea what this means to me,” and went on to tell her the details of my struggle. I added, “This is, without a doubt, God’s answer to my prayer.”
After she left, peace swept over me like a tidal wave. All the reservations that had plagued me vanished. I couldn’t wait to share what had happened with my husband.
Once I did, he responded, “I had no doubt this was God’s leading, but I knew you needed Him to confirm His guidance to you personally. As always, He’s proven His faithfulness!”
I enrolled that day for my first college class, confident I was fulfilling God’s desire for me and my career decision.
Over the next four-and-a-half years, I often reminded myself that I walked on the path God had specifically chosen for me — the path He, through miraculous circumstances, used to remove any doubt that would hinder my wholehearted commitment to completing my college education.
Surprisingly, my mother became one of my greatest supporters. She often invited the girls to spend the weekends with her when I needed extra time to study or complete assignments.
The criticism I’d expected from my church family never occurred. Though my father didn’t live long enough to see me graduate from college, I know he would have been proud of me.
That was thirty-one years ago. This past year I completed my twenty-seventh year of teaching.
My heart overflows with praise every time I recall God’s divine guidance. We indeed have a heavenly Father who is more than willing to meet us at the point of our greatest need. When we seek Him fervently in prayer and surrender our will to His, trusting Him to direct our paths (Proverbs 3:6), He will provide us with clear direction and the confidence to move forward.