A couple of years back I was working my way through the book of Ruth. As often happens with me , what I read in Ruith 3:18 helped me see with eyes of faith, a situation that my girl will face often over the next few years. She was only 10 at the time. I love the part I get to play in teaching her about life and circumstances with a faith perspective….
“Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.””
Ruth 3:18 NLT
Aargh…sometimes playing the role of mum can pull me into an arena of wisdom I am not quite sure I have the natural means to navigate. I don’t think it was any easier when I was leading a team in a corporate office or even when I was leading a group of spirited energetic high schoolers back in my early twenties.
I didn’t miss it..the glistening of the tears held back on my daughter’s face as she listened to someone she loved share a story from their week. There was no malice intended in the story but as she listened she heard something she was not meant to hear and in fact was not even said. It was what she heard between the words that made the sharp wound more painful. I saw it in her eyes and her face. I saw the way she braced her shoulders and smiled sweetly trying hard to not let it show. No one would have noticed how well she performed her act of bravery and masking her feelings but I am her mum and I am getting better at reading her.
She simply heard a story about something some girls had been a part of but all she heard was that she had not been invited. She was not even meant to be invited but 10 year olds don’t see the big picture perspective. But aren’t we the same? Don’t we hear the the unspoken words, the lies we hear between the lines that are actually spoken. She was not meant to be invited but that didn’t matter in this moment because all she was hearing was neglect, and the reality that she has not been seen. She was responding to this story through a filter that simply doesn’t understand the boundaries of social etiquette. What is beautiful about that, is that she actually doesn’t see friendships or relationships through the filter of her age and social boundaries and I wish she didn’t have to. She had been excluded from an invitation to something and she was building a story in her mind. I actually don’t mind that she was not seen but as a mum I could see I would need to help process this with tact and wisdom. I had to act quickly because I could almost feel the lie forming that would seek to bait her heart into believing something that simply was not truth. Lies like ‘ I am not important’, ‘I am not loved by you as much as you love them’, I am uninvited’ ‘I have less value’ I am not wanted’ are like arrows to an innocent heart.
She quckly moved on from that conversation but I knew as a mum, I needed to address it. I did not want to make an issue of the others lack of tact or make it about them. I simply wanted to teach my girl to wield her sword and teach her how to untangle a thought that may lead to misconception. I know how hard it can be to submit to the Holy Spirit as he pulls a bitter root out of my own heart that I have allowe to fester simply because a thought lead to resentment. I certainly did not want my daughter letting a lie of the enemy pierce her heart like an arrow , which could later manifest in an infected wound or hardened heart. As simple as a conversation can be, words are very powerful and I know how the enemy can take them and build a twisted story of neglect that is difficult to unravel.
I am learning to break down my concerns as a mum into easy steps…I don’t want to react to something that is my own issue. I know what it feels like to not be seen or not feel heard. I had to ensure that I was not being too sensitive and creating an issue that was mine not hers. This would take tact and prayer on my part. I know how it has fed my insecurities over the years and taught me to find refuge and security in the wrong ways. So I had to work out if I was just feeling the neglect because that had been my own issue. I don’t want to parent out of fear. I don’t wantto lead out of fear or my own experience and pain. I want to lead and nurture out of a place of promise.
I felt that I had two things to offer …perspective and a sword. While the kids played with their Dad, I began to write down my thoughts asking God to speak to me and what His truth was. Later, as we chatted about her day, I asked my girl lightheartedly about what I had heard and the tears that welled up in her eyes confirmed I was on track. I am learning to ask good questions rather than offer advice and her story confirmed what I had seen. As I listened, I chose not to get angry, frustrated and try and step into a place of control. This is not my journey. It is my daughter’s. This is not my issue. It is hers. Next we began to talk about why we feel it is important to be seen and heard and how we measure that. It was an insightful conversation.
I have since, asked my kids if they could think of anyone in the Bible who had been neglected or ignored or overlooked. Kids are smart. My boy came up with David, when all his brothers were bought before Samuel but he wasn’t and his Dad had left him in the field and also when Saul intentionally demoted David in his roles in the army. Brooke came up with the story of Jesus being forgotten when he was 12 and no one even noticed him missing. Then there was Joseph, forgotten in prison. I asked them both how they would feel if they had been neglected from an invitation and how these stories could help them. I want them to always look to the scripture for ways to untangle the lies that creep in. God had not neglected them or overlooked them and when it was important for them to be noticed he made sure they were. Each of them loved God and were where they were meant to be. God sees us and doesn’t bring us out of hiding out of time.
I gave perspective to my daughter about what she had heard, but more importantly, I watched her get a Biblical perspective and showed her how important it is to know that God sees her and sometimes He will even hide her and make sure she’s not seen and as hard as that may be, she will at least now have some truth in her hand in order to recognise the lies that come so quickly. Teaching her to not only have her Bible on her shelf but use it as a sword is a role I do not take lightly but knowing how to use it and wield it can be cumbersome and often complicated when you are used to your mum doing all the wielding….
This conversation took all of three minutes. There are other battles that will not be so easy but I know the Holy Spirit will help me in this gift of mothering helping my daughter navigate the deep waters of tween girl emotions. If you can think of any other scriptures or stories I would love to hear from you.
This morning as I re-read Ruth, Boaz has told her that he must go to the city gate and see if the one who has rightful ownership of her is willing to have her…. Ruth returns to Naomi thinking that Boaz may not be the one heavy one her heart. As a woman I can feel the words and thought she heard between the lines. She heard the words but her heart felt the lies of the enemy. ‘He may not be the one’..what if it doesn’t work out and I end up with neither? What if boas is just trying to let me down slowly? HaveI missed It? ‘things may not work out, what if and why?????’…. and Naomi who had, earlier in this story, asked the women to call her Mara, who had been the one with no words of faith and only words of emptiness, is now the one telling Ruth …’be patient..you are allowing the information you have heard to cloud your feelings and your heart‘…Let God bring clarity to your story today. Naomi didn’t take in Ruth’s burden or lose control. She did not try and fix it. She had perspective. She understood how things work in this land of Jehovah and she also trusted the unfolding story of grace that had happened so far. I, as a mum, have perspective and can help show my daughter how to navigate her story with patience, compassion and forgiveness and gratitude. I don’t always get it right and neither did Naomi. Ruth was the one she had pushed her away, yet here she was believing on her behalf.
Ruth 3: 18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”
When God hid Joseph away in prison, how many things did he miss out on at home? How many invitations to his family table did he miss? How many times a day did he yearn for his mums cooking or a word of comfort from home? How often did he long to feel the warmth of precious jacket to feel the love of his father? He was hidden. Teaching my kids to be ok with being hidden is so opposite to what our culture is teaching. As a mum, I must place truth in my daughter’s hand and show her how to wield her sword.
In my childhood, I grew up a long way from home without my mum on hand to help filter my feels and the words I heard and didn’t hear had no ‘naomi’ to add a God filter to my daily experience. It has made me appreciate my role as a Naomi and even now, my need of of one too.
I love my role as a nurturer in moments like these. It won’t always be this easy but I am grateful that I have had people in my life teaching me how to wield a sword and allowing the sword to do it’s work.