Ruth 1:8 – 9 “Then Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, ‘Go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the LORD show kindness to you, as you have shown to your dead and to me. May the LORD grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.’ Then she kissed them and they wept aloud . . .”
I am blessed to have a wonderful mother-in-law. She loves me, looks out for me, and encourages me. During my nearly seventeen years of marriage to her son, Carolyn and I have laughed together, cried together, and shopped together – all the necessary ingredients for true female bonding. It seems that Naomi was just that kind of mother-in-law.
She had no daughters by birth. When her sons married, they blessed her with the wives they chose. Though these women didn’t share Naomi’s faith in God, they were still women, in a house full of men. They were faithful to her sons, and delightful companions for her. I’m sure they laughed, cried, shopped, cooked, did laundry, and cleaned house together. In the unique way which only women understand, they bonded.
Unfortunately, Naomi knew what lay in store for her daughters-in-law if they continued with her. Just as Naomi and her family had been despised in Moab, Ruth and Orpah would be despised in Bethlehem. After all, they were Moabites. And Jews didn’t like Moabites. They had little hope of finding new husbands in Naomi’s home town.
It wasn’t that Naomi wanted to leave her beloved girls behind. She had lost everything dear to her. To give up the last thread of connection to her sons, to say goodbye to these women who had been friends, confidantes, and daughters must have broken her heart! But she loved them enough to lay aside her own wants and put them first. She wanted them to find happiness again, even if it meant sacrificing her own happiness.
And that, my friends, is where true happiness begins. When our lives are centered around ourselves, our capacity for peace, joy, and love is limited. But when we focus outward, when we spill our lives for those around us, our capacity for love becomes boundless! And love, poured out freely to others, will come back to us many times over, providing more joy and fulfillment and happiness than we ever could have found looking inward. Naomi was a wise woman. Let us follow her example, shall we?
Dear Father, Please heighten my capacity to love.