Last month I lost my wedding ring. It didn't slip down the drain while washing my hands, or slide off unnoticed while waterskiing, or disappear under any other forgivable, accidental scenario. I lost the ring I have worn every day for the past 10 and a half years - the symbol of love and commitment that has accompanied me around the globe and through the ups and downs of a decade of marriage - and I had no one to blame but myself.
When I recognized the ring was missing, I immediately began retracing the previous day's steps, searching for a clue to its whereabouts. As I mentally revisited the regular routine of classes, clients, and errands, one minute came into clear focus. I saw myself sitting in a treatment room at my acupuncturist's office with my ring balanced on my knee as I put lotion on my cracked hands. I observed myself leaning forward to toss the empty lotion bottle in the trash can and settling back into the chair as she entered. I watched the scene unfold, helpless to change the past, with a sinking sense that I would never see the ring again.
I calculated the time lapse between loss and discovery: 13 hours. Perhaps there was cause for hope. When I called the office to explain the situation, the office manager assured me she would search the room thoroughly, but it was to no avail. I immediately made my way there to scour the room personally, but no amount of crawling around the floor willing the ring to appear produced it. I tracked down the manager of the building's overnight cleaning crew, and while she was sympathetic, she wasn't able to help. Disappointed by the loss and in myself for the carelessness that brought it about, I slumped home.
Seemingly out of options and in need of encouragement, I picked up the phone and dialed my mom. She reminded me that the ring was simply a possession like any other, and its loss would be just one of many I would undoubtedly encounter in the years to come. And then she asked, "Have you prayed about it?"
I couldn't bring myself to ask for a miracle for something as trivial as a piece of jewelry - even one with great sentimental value, but I couldn't shake the advice. I prayed instead for peace of mind and gave myself permission to surrender the search and accept the loss.
A week later, while folding laundry, I caught sight of what appeared to be a button resting on a cabinet in our bedroom. As I approached the table to pick it up, my heart stopped: it was not a button, but my ring. I immediately began inventing scenarios that would explain its presence there. It must have been caught in the cuff of my pants and somehow survived the bike ride back home... Or maybe it fell from my knee into my purse and then back out... But no explanation seemed quite right - or relevant.
As I reflected on the disappearance and reappearance, I recognized that the relief I felt upon finding the ring was no greater than the peace I experienced when I stopped striving and embraced my inability to control the outcome.
This type of surrender has applications far beyond material possessions. So many of the challenges we face are out of our control: the end of a relationship, a missed opportunity, the inability to start a family. When our own efforts and resources fail to deliver the results we desire, we can find healing in surrendering our attachment to a specific outcome and accepting what comes next.
Have you made a mistake - small or large - you can't reverse? Are you facing a burden greater than your abilities? Consider surrendering your desires and allowing life to unfold. It just may surprise you...