On another blog I’ve been reading, the author mentioned that she encouraged all her readers to read the book of Ruth. She said it was interesting, a wonderful description of God’s love for us, and it was short, so it gave a quick sense of satisfaction.
I crawled into bed last night – late, as usual – and played a few games of solitaire. I had been really emotional for most of the evening. I forget what set me off… I think it was something on a tv. Anyway, I had a hard time settling into bed and I clicked my Palm over to the Bible program. It popped up to some Psalms of David I had read earlier (at the prompting of another friend who had sent me a message following a previous blog entry). As I started reading, it wasn’t catching my attention, and something reminded me of the suggestion to read Ruth. So I switched to that book instead.
As I read, I noticed something I had never noticed before. I’ve always felt lost amidst all the cultural customs that didn’t make any sense to me. I find the “first dibs” by relatives on widows within their families to be very confusing. But as I read the story, I started thinking about it from Naomi’s perspective. This is the portion that initially caught my attention:
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.
I started thinking about what it must have been like to have dealt with the horrid effects of a famine, only to leave your family to go to a place with what will hopefully provide more food for your family. Then your husband dies, followed ten years later by both your children. What a horrid, horrid ordeal!
I’ve read Job in the past, and I always feel discouraged about how Job never curses the Lord or anything like that. I think some versions say something to the effect that in all this, Job never sinned by blaming God. While I’m not really a fatalist, I do struggle with feeling like the bad things in the world are God’s punishment on His people. I would never say this to someone else; in fact, if someone told me they felt they were being punished by God, I’d have a litany of things to say in rebuttal. But for some reason, when things happen to me, I feel like God is punishing me. And when I feel like I’m being punished, especially by someone who has apparently forgiven me for everything, I feel utter frustration.
As I continued reading, it seemed like neon lights had been set up around this verse:
20-21 But she said, “Don’t call me Naomi; call me Bitter. The Strong One has dealt me a bitter blow. I left here full of life, and God has brought me back with nothing but the clothes on my back. Why would you call me Naomi? God certainly doesn’t. The Strong One ruined me.”
What a relief! Someone in the Bible was mad at God. Someone else felt God was punishing and battering her beyond recognition. Someone else felt ruined by God.
I read – quite eagerly – until I got to the end of the story. I had an image in my head of Naomi at the end of the story, and I didn’t know if the image came from things I had read in the Bible, things I had seen in a storybook, or things I had concocted in my head. I was pleasantly relieved to find this outcome:
14-15 The town women said to Naomi, “Blessed be God! He didn’t leave you without family to carry on your life. May this baby grow up to be famous in Israel! He’ll make you young again! He’ll take care of you in old age. And this daughter-in-law who has brought him into the world and loves you so much, why, she’s worth more to you than seven sons!”
16 Naomi took the baby and held him in her arms, cuddling him, cooing over him, waiting on him hand and foot.
17 The neighborhood women started calling him “Naomi’s baby boy!” But his real name was Obed. Obed was the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David.
The story turned out. It has a happy ending – not only for the main character and her newly-found husband, but also for Naomi. I had never noticed that before. The passage almost seems to suggest that Naomi got her time back. She got to be “young” again. Her heart was full.
What I wouldn’t give to have this time back. I feel caught between two worlds – the world in which I’m a parent and the world in which I want to be a parent again… The world of all-things-children and the world of trying desperately to avoid all things children because it hurts. I think there’s a bit of a disconnect for people struggling with secondary infertility. It’s a conflicting experience to want what you can’t have but you already have. It has dominated the overtones of our life since Gabe’s first birthday. I have tried to be cognizant of the fact that I need to take my time and enjoy watching Gabe grow, because it’s easy to watch him grow and focus on my regret that he doesn’t have a sibling.
Not only did it turn out, but it had a bigger role to play in all of history. Had Naomi not lost her husband and two sons, she never would have had Obed and she never would have played a role in the lineage of Christ. I don’t know if that would make it worth it to me. It’s an awful lot of heartache and loss for something that doesn’t give a whole lot of concrete reward, at least in this lifetime. Perhaps that makes me shallow; it probably makes me much less spiritual than I should be. But rainbows and flowers and sunshine aren’t really on the forefront of my mind right now, so I’ll have to settle for the knowledge that this probably was an incredible honor, even if it doesn’t feel like it would be worth it to me.
I was also relieved by the absence of any record of God punishing Naomi for her bitterness. At least based on the details in the passage, He really doesn’t seem too perturbed by her bitterness, and He still brings the situation back around to a place of healing and joy. Sometimes I feel like I have to work hard to fix my attitude before I can expect any break in our situation. It was nice to see that it may not be that way in reality.
In other news, I have officially brought down the wrath of Gabe on me. We have three bedrooms in our house. One for us, one for Gabe, and one for a spare room. Gabe has a crib, but over the last two to three months, he has taken to sleeping in the spare room on the double bed. It has made our transition to a “big boy bed” very easy. However, every time I bring up the idea of getting him his own bed, he is insistent that he doesn’t want one. I have begged and pleaded every which way, but he’s having none of it.
That should have been my first clue.
Today, I decided that I was tired of having two of our bedrooms in complete chaos. Well, actually all three are in chaos, but one of them is mine so that one doesn’t count, at least in this part of the story. Anyway, the two bedrooms are in chaos because Gabe’s stuff is strewn through both of them, and the stuff headed to storage is strewn through both of them. I wanted to move all his books to his new room and switch the closets so his clothes and toys were put away.
It went okay this afternoon. I had to do some smooth talking, but he eventually got on board. I thought we were in the clear. This evening, however, an hour after we put him to bed, I could hear him talking in this little, squeaky voice. I thought he was talking to his tiny dog, Dzordzel (yes, he named his dog all by himself), but when I continued hearing it 20 minutes later, I decided to go up and check on him. He was upstairs weeping – literally weeping – about his room. He was heartbroken. You would have thought I had taken Oshi (yes, another stuffed animal he named) and systematically dismembered him and thrown the scraps in the fireplace. He was devastated that his room was different. Saying it “stressed him out” and made him scared, yada yada. Seriously. Yes, my child is three. Yes, he says he is stressed out. He also says things like “kineariously” (??) and all sorts of other descriptors that make me hold my breath while I try to avoid giggling in front of him.
Anyway, long story short, he wants me to move everything back to normal. The way it should be. Messes and all. I, on the other hand, am not going to do it. Rather, I am going to attempt some good old-fashioned retail bribery. I’m hoping that a trip to Target will pump him up about his new, “super cool” room. He was quite nonplussed with this idea, so hopefully it will be more appealing in real life.
So wish me luck. Tomorrow could be a bit harried!