The Unlikely Love of an In-law
Ruth tells of the love she found in the embrace of her in-law Naomi [Based on Ruth 1]
My earliest daydream memories are of my future wedding.
Not necessarily the decor or even the location, but I remember dreaming of the man.
He was taller than me. I remember him tilting his chiseled chin so he could gaze into my soul with those dark, captivating eyes of his own. He rested a hand on my cheek, his strong, yet gentle hands.
And we would kiss.
I’ve given myself butterflies in my stomach again just picturing it all over again.
That was my earliest daydream.
One of my earliest nightmares was of my future in-laws.
I dreaded the prospect of my in-laws.
My own mother and my father’s mom never got along. It was nothing they ever came out and said to each other while together, at least not in my presence but I could always feel the tension between the two of them.
I’d walk into a room and immediately I could tell my grandmother had come over unannounced once again. My mother would be hard at work cleaning, her knuckles pale, back straight, and lips pursed together.
The air was always harder to breathe on those afternoons.
I’d catch disapproving glances from my grandmother. She’d shake her head silently at something my mother would say or question her decisions repeatedly.
“Aren’t you going to season this dish? I’m sure your family would like it better if you tried my recipe.”
“Oh I don’t think I’d let your children do that. What do your neighbors think?”
It seemed to be the trend in our community. Wonderful young women at odds with respected older women.
I had no hopeful visions that my situation would be any different. I only hoped my future husband would have my back if the situation came down to it.
It never crossed my mind in any version of my future that I imagined my mother in law would be anything like Naomi.
From the day I was introduced to Naomi she treated me as her own daughter.
Naomi and her husband Elimelech were strangers in our land. Yet they treated everyone they met as a loved one. Their attitude was met with skepticism by a few of our more cynical citizens.
Their sons were also the talk of the town, for a completely different reason.
I think every mother in our community wanted their daughters to marry those boys, which is why they overlooked their skepticism of Naomi and tried to butter her up.
But Orpah and I were the ones to gain that honor.
And what an honor it was.
I loved this whole family. I was never made to feel like a stranger with them. Perhaps it was because they knew what being a stranger felt like. They showed me love and encouraged me in my role as wife and partner to their son.
Whenever I was over I would immediately find myself working around the house alongside Naomi. I felt myself pulled into her orbit and I never fought the attraction.
She would ask me specific questions about my life, and she listened to the answer.
I remember when my grandmother would ask my mom questions.
“So dear how is life going?”
“Oh, you know, things are a little difficult right now. We have…”
“Yes, that’s nice. Oh look at my son, isn’t he wonderful?”
I have never understood why anyone would ask a question yet be in too much of a hurry to listen to the answer.
I never found it to be true of Naomi. She listened intently. She would look up from her work and lay her eyes directly on me so I knew I had her attention.
When I was with Naomi, my heart was full.
She cried with me when my own father passed. Up until that point in my life it was the hardest day I had ever faced. My own mother felt a need to be strong. She never shed a tear in front of anyone, although I heard her crying herself to sleep at night.
Naomi embraced me and we wept together. Our faces were covered in tears, dirt, and snot, but I never once felt any shame. The healing began in those moments with my sweet mother-in-law.
Perhaps that’s why I did not hesitate to return the action when we all faced tragedy together.
Her husband, Elimelech, died suddenly one day. Even though Naomi was the strongest woman I had ever met she did not hesitate to grieve his passing. Orpah and I grieved with her.
Within ten years my husband, as well as Orpah’s also died.
Naomi was left without a family, and it was at this time Naomi decided to head back to her own country.
As soon as she made the decision I knew I would go with her.
She would say she had no family, and it hurt in a small way but I knew she was only looking out for me. She wanted me to return to my people so I could marry again and be taken care of in a way she could not care for me.
I was having none of it.
I told her repeatedly I would come with her back to her own land, and she finally agreed.
We packed up what little we had and headed out on a new adventure together.
Me and my in-law.
Even though this would mean I would be going to a strange land I knew as long as I was with Naomi I would be home.