No it isn’t. Not really. But Ruth is the kind of woman I am, the kind I want to be.
You see, Ruth was strong. She was the kind of woman who could deal with anything. She dealt with loss. She dealt with hardship. She even dealt with her mother-in-law. And she did all of this gracefully, never once considering throwing in the towel, or running away. She didn’t let grief get the better of her. She moved on, pushed forward. At least that’s what the Bible tells us. So, yes. I want to be like Ruth, strong and focused; clear on what is important and sticking it out even when it’s hard.
And sometimes it’s hard. Work is hard. Life is hard. People and relationships are hard too. The effort to exist itself is hard. But, when I think about how my job is what puts food on my table, then I suck it up and work hard. When I think about how the curves that life throws me can turn out for good or become opportunities, I suck it up and bend with the curves no matter how tight. When I think about the fact that people are the instruments through whom God blesses us, blesses me especially, I suck it up and build relationships even with the most difficult people. I say to myself; be like Ruth. Be strong!
Ruth was also faithful and loyal – to her mother in law, to her husband’s family. She didn’t leave her mother in law even though her husband had died. And even though his brother had died too. You see, when her husband died, it was customary for her to be married by another man in her husband’s family. But there were no men left. And what did she do? Instead of going back to her homeland where she definitely would have found someone else to marry and take care of her, she told Naomi, her mother-in-law that she would go with her. She wasn’t related to this woman by blood, but her strong sense of loyalty kept her by that woman’s side, by her dead husband’s side really, when you come to think about it. Now, that’s the kind of woman I want to be.
Someone once called me “Ruth, a b’oko ku”. If I translate that piece of Yoruba loosely, it means the one who will die with her husband. You’re probably wondering why I’d be called that. I’m not even married. But, I think it’s cos of the way I love, the way I treat my relationships. I talked about that in Crazy. Stupid. Love. Or Not so no need to rehash. And I’m not ashamed to be like this. It makes me happy to think that whoever I’m with can rest assured that I love him wholly and will stand by him in every situation. And isn’t that something to be proud of? After all, why is it said that a man finds a good thing when he finds a wife, if the wife isn’t someone who is faithful and loyal?
Ruth was open minded and she listened – she listened to the advice her mother in law gave her about Boaz. Her mother-in-law literally coached her, given the fact that she probably had more experience and Ruth was a good student. She didn’t question Naomi’s logic. She knew it was sound. She didn’t bristle at the fact that Naomi was trying to ‘pawn’ her off to some other man, she was smart enough to realise that Naomi would not lead her in a direction that wouldn’t be to her benefit. And she remained open-minded, allowed herself to consider what Naomi was asking of her and it paid off.
Ruth was also a go-getter. Once she made up her mind that she was going to be married to Boaz, she went for it. She accosted Boaz in the night and she ‘seduced’ him. Now, don’t look on that as a bad thing. Sometimes, seduction isn’t always wholly sexual. What Ruth did was make him see the good qualities in her, making him fall in love with her. No matter how errant or randy men are, they do like a good woman; a woman who will give them peace and a good home and beautiful children. A woman who will work hard and support them and add value to them. By working hard in the fields, Ruth had shown Boaz that she was industrious. By tending to her mother-in-law, she had shown him that she was respectful and loving and loyal. All that was left was the physical stuff, which is also very important to any red-blooded man. So, Ruth took those matters into her own hands and played her well-timed joker. I don’t know about other ladies, but I certainly have a deep admiration for this woman of the Bible and I definitely want to be like her.
She was also bold. She proposed marriage to Boaz. She proposed to him! How many men would trust or agree to a marriage proposal from a woman? The guy probably didn’t even realize he wanted to be married. He probably wasn’t really thinking about it at the time. But there she was, this beautiful, hardworking, loving and most likely really sexy woman, asking him to marry her. And he couldn’t for the life of him, find anything wrong with marrying her. Not a lot of women are bold enough to propose marriage these days. And the majority of women will also sit around and wait for the man to propose – they dream of spectacularly planned proposals and the perfect ring and the perfect ambience and all that nonsense. Whereas, sometimes, he needs not just a nudge in the right direction, but a taxi ride (what people sometimes call ‘drop’) to the final destination.
I would love to have the gumption that Ruth had, and be able to know when to take a chance. And not just in marriage. Being bold is a requirement for many facets of life. I want to be able to stand openly for what I believe in, to boldly challenge the things I don’t agree with. I want to be able to assert myself and ask for what I want, be it a promotion at work or a discount on an expensive pair of shoes. The worst that would happen is that I’d get a ‘No’ for an answer. But what if I get a ‘Yes’?
Last, but not least, Ruth was a hard worker – she got to Naomi’s hometown at the time of the barley harvest and she immediately set to work, never mind that they weren’t her fields or that she wasn’t getting paid for it. How many women do chores in their mothers-in-law’s houses happily, willingly and without complaining in their heads? Or without saying to themselves that they’re doing it for their husbands’ sake? We forget that we did those chores in our parents’ houses and that we do them in our own houses. The mere thought that it’s in another person’s house makes some women bristle at being thought of as an errand girl. We forget that one day, by God’s grace, we will become mothers-in-law, expecting our son’s wives to do the same.
It takes a lot of humility and courage to be like Ruth. I wouldn’t dare say that it’s an easy task. But it is definitely doable, with the right amount of effort and dedication. So, here’s my message to all the women out there, old and young alike; Be Like Ruth. She isn’t a popular Bible character for nothing. I probably sound very preachy, but that’s me practicing boldness, and standing for what I believe in; that’s me trying to be like Ruth…