In honor of Mother’s Day, I’d like to share with you the following beautiful story. Ruth 1:1-18
1 In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land. So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.
3 Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.
6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.
8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.
10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”
11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”
14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.
Oh wait, this isn’t a story about a mother and her child. No, it’s not. It’s even more beautiful than that precious relationship. Why? Because of the choice. Ruth chose to stay with Naomi. She chose to love her. And it’s not because she didn’t have anyone else. No, Ruth chose to love Naomi and stay with Naomi, EVEN THOUGH she had a family of her own. She made the decision not to go back to her family because she wanted to stay with Naomi.
Isn’t that a testimony to the type of relationship they had? It was a love for one another independent of Ruth’s relationship with her husband. It was a love for one another regardless of the limited memories they had the opportunity to create. It was a love which surpassed tradition or unofficial mental requirements.
This story is one of my absolute favorites because the Lord blessed my life with the same gift. When I married my husband, nearly fifteen years ago, I didn’t get “in-lawed,” I got “adopted,” and it wasn’t because I needed to be; I had a loving mother and father of my own, but it was because of the parents my husband had that I was welcomed as a child of their own.
I can call upon my mom-in-law at anytime and I know that she is there for me, in multiple aspects. Like the time I stopped by her house on my way home from town, completely burdened with the realization that someone I loved very dearly no longer wanted me in their life. I was devastated. Both of my parents-in-law sat with me at their table and prayed over me. They spoke wisdom and strength into my heart and helped me in the process of releasing that to the Lord. My mom-in-law was at my bedside and wiped my forehead from sickness that overcame me when I was miscarrying my baby. She stood close by as we buried my Dad, a grief she knew all too well from having to say goodbye to both her parents far too early.
My mom-in-law has supported me to be able to operate in my calling through the ministry of nursing by the innumerable times she has picked up, dropped off or taken the kids where they needed to be. She has supported me in my marriage to her son by helping us to carve out and utilize the rare opportunity to get away together. She has cooked for me, cleaned for me, done my laundry, sewn numerous custom made Halloween costumes.
But above all she does for me, she loves me, and I believe she loved me long before her son ever looked my way. I believe she loved me when she began loving him- from the very beginning. I believe that as she rocked her precious baby boy she prayed for the baby girl he would marry. And I believe this, because of, the hand I hold today; the hand I have held for over 15 years. My husband had a uniquely mature ability to overlook imperfection and chose what his mom taught him was something worth finding- faith, character, dedication, genuineness.
My mother-in-law is my Naomi. I love her so very dearly. You may be reading this and thinking, “Well, my mother-in-law is a far cry from that!” And if so, I am so deeply sorry. I grew up in a family where I observed that unfortunate and saddening dynamic. However, although you can’t change people, you can change you, and you can influence the future. Mark Batterson says our focus determines our reality. If you are dealing with a difficult mother-in-law, challenge yourself to focus on something to make the most of the relationship, even if it’s the simple fact that she gave you the gift of your husband. Furthermore, to the beat of M.C. Hammer, “you’ve got to pray.” Pray over your children and begin praying for their future spouse, and then focus on being the mother-in-law that you always dreamed of.
For all of the mother’s who have their ducklings close in their nest, for all the mother’s who have watched their kiddos spread their wings and for all the mother’s who are now grandmothers….. be someone's bonus mom; you can make the difference.
Happy Mother’s Day to you!
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