A Traditional Decision
A merry day, a happy holiday, the most wonderful time of the year. We are trained to feel these emotions whether we “feel” them or not. To be surrounded by anything other than holly jolly cheer or gingerbread cookies is to have a heart three sizes too small. We are a group drowning in our pain meds and therapy sessions, yet somehow find ourselves up and raring to go in the quest for true spirit and lasting tradition.
At this point you’re either writing me off as a cynic or someone who lost a puppy on Christmas. I am neither. In fact, I adore Christmas. I love the red and the trees; I love the excuse to eat way too many sugar cookies; and don’t get me started on the great candle scents December offers. But even in the spirit of it all, I often find myself tripping over the concept of traditions and just how mindless we can be about them and over the precedence we often grant them in our life stories.
I’m about to take a big brain leap. Have you ever read the story of Ruth? Most of the time we remember this as the story of the girl who clung faithfully to her mother-in-law and eventually married well. But have you ever considered just how painful this story actually is? Ruth had a plan. She was married and had a home in a country that was her own, but that fell apart as her future changed from traditional to terrifying. She was no longer in a position where she was secure, but in that moment something in her knew she had to cling to something that was more than a “redo”. With this in mind she threw her customs to the side and committed herself to Naomi, her mother-in-law, with Naomi’s grieving heart and strange tactics.
Ruth, like many of us, experienced broken plans and a redefined future. Some of our futures are still being defined as I type these words. What sets our stories apart from this biblical one is often the response we give to our disrupted plans. If we are not careful, we will unknowingly act like the sister-in-law mentioned with regret in the beginning of chapter 1. Orpah was the daughter who lost it all and went back home to start over anew. It doesn’t sound that bad—a fresh start, right? However, Ruth knew Naomi had something different about her that she had to have; something she had to be near.
This knowledge of the leading of God is what set Ruth apart from her sister-in-law, both in the moment of decision and in the history that would follow them. Ruth wasn’t afraid to break the mold of the young widow and pursue something she didn’t fully understand. She committed her mind, heart, and body to something she couldn’t buy, touch, give, or take. To our tactical and excitement driven generation, this is understandable only in written form and plagues the hearts of those who wish they had more in them than Christmas time cheer.
Ruth didn’t have a Christmas season to celebrate, but because of her willingness to follow and set her tradition aside, she was a part of the lineage that led to the birth of Jesus and a reason for the season we love so much.
Ruth found blessing and favor when she was willing to let her broken plans and altered future lead her in a “non-traditional” direction.
Olivia Dummer is a student in Blue Springs, Missouri where Jason Huckaby is her pastor. She writes and keeps an inspirational blog hoping to encourage others and share what she’s learned about God.