I am so lucky that somebody does not get paid royalties whenever I say, “Yes, I wear a ring; No, I am not married; Yes, I do know that it is a wedding band; No, it is not on my left hand,” because I would have to send a check about once a week. But seriously, somebody probably asks me about the white and yellow gold ring I wear on my right ring finger almost without fail within about five minutes of meeting me: mission accomplished. I started wearing a ring after my sophomore year of college as a result of an essay I wrote so that people would ask me about it. I thought about getting a tattoo, but that seemed a little more permanent and open to artistic interpretation, a little less visible and certainly less questionable than an unmarried man wearing a wedding band on his right hand.
Well, the essay was a very big, final paper for one of my philosophy courses, and in the traditional philosophical stereotype, the topic was pretty open: What is the good life?
I completely missed the mark on what the professor was actually looking for. Apparently, the rest of the class understood what he wanted – the benefit of going to office hours I guess – and provided examples from all of the philosophical thinkers and texts that we read throughout the course of a two-semester, double credit class. I, however, chose to use the material we covered as inspiration to write my own interpretation, which I thought boiled down to one little line in a strange book of the Bible: Job 28:28:
And he said unto man: behold, fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.
While I technically did not answer the question correctly, my professor was impressed enough with my analysis and reflection that he was willing to overlook my situation. He invited me to his office to discuss my essay, and after going through one of the most intellectually grueling experiences of my entire life, determined that this is what I needed to experience more in order to live the good life; I needed to think about the good life and how we ought to live more often. More importantly, I needed to talk about it with other people, so I wear a ring as a means to start the conversation.
Looking back, it amazes me that a Bible verse would be the source of such inspiration in my life. At the time I was not a regular churchgoer; in fact, I do not think I went outside of Christmas and Easter while home with the family. I certainly did not think about the Bible or God, or even think that religion was necessary really – it was just something you did on Sundays…sometimes. To be honest, I don’t really know what I thought back then. What I do now know, though, is that I can pinpoint that moment as the first time God began working from my head to my heart, as I started internalizing how I ought to live according to God’s command. Of course, as a nineteen-year-old college student, I thought I had control over my own actions and did not even consider thinking that the paradigm I viewed my own actions would be the first step towards loving Christ.
There is a lot more to the verse than I can explain in one post, and I did not even begin to explain what I think about it. In the coming weeks, I will revisit different pieces to explain how I think it describes the good life and provide examples from my own experience to expand further. I would encourage you to read the book of Job, or at least chapter 28, to get some more context of what I will discuss. Stay tuned!