Love a good short story?
Well, I have one for you. The name of the book is Ruth.
This story is much more than a good read. It encompasses the journey of a woman who steps outside her comfort zone in order to offer COMPLETE loyalty to a close friend. Too often, we stay inside our own little bubble and become more concerned about how we feel, or how something might affect us, that we don’t lock on to the feelings of the people surrounding us. I am guilty of this on a regular basis. Recently, this selfishness has been brought to my attention.
One thing I loathe the most is opening up to others about how I feel, or what I’m thinking. There has been one too many times where my shared thoughts and emotions have been shoved right back down throat, or have been used to stab me in the back. Vulnerability is not my cup of tea. I am terrified to have to deal with confrontation, or with any sort of conversation that requires me to expose my thoughts or emotions. For those who may know me, that might come as a surprise. I try my best to put on this front that I am confident, or fearless. Truth be told though, I fit neither one of those descriptions. Deep inside of me is a scared little girl, who is petrified of what people may think of her, or what people may do to her. In fact, this little girl is so scared, that she is willing to shut up about anything that may make her look different compared to the rest of the world, or about anything that may come back to bite her in the butt.
The other day, I was having a conversation with my mom. I made a comment, that to her seemed like a lie. Now, I was not lying about what I said, but in my mom’s eyes, things weren’t adding up. She confronted me about what I said, and after a couple of defensive responses, I gave up and decided that I would let her believe whatever she wanted. I was tired of having the conversation, and I just wanted to move on. Often times, I make up in my mind that I don’t care what the other person is feeling. I sure don’t want to open up and share my thoughts, so I just coldy end the conversation by walking away. That is what I did with my mom. I walked away. In fact, I left the house, went to the gym, and left my mom with her feelings hurt and curiosity eating at her.
“Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only of your own interests, but the interests of others as well.” (Phillipians 2:3-4)
I knew that walking away was not the right thing to do. However, I was too busy worried about how I felt, or how being vulnerable about my feelings would affect me in the long run, that I overlooked how my actions would affect my relationship with my mom.
So, while at the gym, Ruth popped into my mind. As I was stretching, I began to read the four most amazing chapters of such an amazing woman. Here is the verse that really stuck out to me:
“But Ruth said ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.”
Ruth epitomizes compassion and loyalty. She drops everything she has ever known, to move 60-75 miles to a foreign land (Bethlehem), where she can help take care of her widowed mother-in-law, even though she herself is widowed as well!! Ruth does not care what others may think of her in the new town. She is not concerned with what humbling herself to go and pick grain with other poor folks in order to provide for her mother-in-law, Naomi, may look like to the rest of the town. In fact, she even risks her enitre reputation, and asks a noble man named Boaz to be her husband, so that she and Naomi can be redeemed. Ruth pledges that NOTHING but death can stop her from following Naomi and God. Ruth’s willingness to step outside her comfort zone, so that she can care for her mother-in-law is extremely inspiring! In fact, it was truly convicting as I was sitting there in the middle of the gym.
I realized that I needed to refocus my attention. My attention should not be on myself, and how I feel. It should first be placed on God, and second on those around me. Walking away from my mom was wrong. Walking away from all the other times I should have opened up was wrong. I realized that like Ruth, I needed to step outside of my little Lauren bubble, and be willing to do anything I needed in order to make the other person feel loved, and cared for.
Way too often we stay inside our comfort zone. But Christ did not die for us to stay there. He didn’t die for us to keep to ourselves, or to stay in our little huddle of christian friends. He died so that we may have eternal life. So that we can share the joy that comes from knowing him, and build relationships with people who He calls us to LOVE. How can we show this love, and share this joy, if we stay wrapped up in our own little world? How can we show this love, and share this joy, if we don’t step out of our comfort zones?
The answer to both of those questions, is that we can’t.
Just like Ruth, we all need to be willing to drop our concern with what the world may think of us, or how we feel, in order to make sure the people surrounding us don’t feel left out, or lonely, or screwed over. For me, I should not keep to myself in fear of how I might be affected. Although, there is potential that my vulnerability can come back to bite me, it shouldn’t hinder me from making sure I don’t sever a relationship with someone just because I keep my mouth shut. I am called to step out and do the things that I don’t necessarily want to do all the time. As a matter of fact, I owe it to Christ to get out of my comfort zone since He died for me to do so.
We need to be more Ruth”ful” instead of ruthless. We need to show others that we care. We need to be more compassionate.
Step outside of your comfort zone, and watch how God will use the smallest steps of obedience to create the most amazing stories.
He did it for Ruth. Because of her obedience to forget about her comfort and show loyalty to Naomi, God granted her and Boaz with a son that stands in the genealogy of Jesus Christ himself. How awesome is that?! All she did was take one step of obedience even though she may not have wanted to do so.
Think about the people around you, and make their feelings a priority over yours.