One thing to remember when life doesn't turn out the way you expect
I guess one of the reasons I stopped writing is because I finally realised that I don't have everything figured out.
By 34, I thought I'd know what I wanted to do with my life.
I imagined I'd have children. Instead I'm not sure if we want children. And if we do if we could have our own or if we'd want to adopt.
I expected that I would found the career that I wanted to do and I’d be loving it or that I’d be stay-at-home mom to a bunch of kids. Instead I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do and I’m not sure I’d want to be a full-time mom even if we could afford it.
I thought I’d know how to clean the oven, or roast potatoes, or that I didn’t have to finish a book if I didn’t love it.
Maybe you thought you'd be married. Or you never thought you'd be divorced or widowed. Or you thought you’d be single and now you’ve got a husband and 4 kids.
Don't get me wrong I have a good life and I wouldn’t change it. It's just that I’m not living the life 15 year old me expected. I wonder how many of us are?
There's a story in the Bible about a woman called Ruth who’s life didn't turn out the way she expected (you can read her story in the book of Ruth - it's only 4 chapters).
Ruth married an immigrant, and then he died shortly afterwards, along with his brother- and father-in-law. After these tragedies, her mother-in-law, Naomi, decides to return to her land of birth. In those times her daughter-in-laws were expected to go with her so they got their belongings together and the three women start walking towards Bethlehem.
A few hours into the journey, Naomi tells Ruth and her other daughter-in-law, Orpah, to go back to their families and the only lives they’ve known. Orpah cries, kisses her mother-in-law and heads back.
Ruth's life wasn't what she expected at that moment and she had to make a choice. I wonder for how long her life hadn’t been what she expected. She lived in a time where she likely didn’t marry for a love but because her marriage made sense to both families. The bible tells us so little of her past that I wonder if she had a home that was worth running back to or if unknown future was better than the past she’d lived through.
Naomi urges her to leave again but Ruth responds:
Stop pushing me away, insisting that I stop following you!
Wherever you go, I will go.
Wherever you live, I will live.
Your people will be my people.
Your God will be my God.
Wherever you die, I will also die and be buried there near you.
May the Eternal One punish me—and even more so—if anything besides death comes between us. (Ruth 1:16-17)
They journey on and arrive in Naomi's hometown. Things are tough for the two widows. Ruth went out each day to beg for food. She bought home scraps that farmers didn't want. Yup, life really wasn't going to plan.
Ruth spent her days following behind harvesters picking up stalks of grains left behind. One of Naomi's relatives recognized her and showed kindness to Ruth allowing her to pick up scraps in his fields. Then Ruth, encouraged by Naomi, sneaks into the barn, where he sleeps, and practically asks him to marry her. Somehow, I don't think she pictured her life turning out that way.
Long story short, Ruth and Boaz marry and they have a child, who has a child, who has a child called David, who the bible describes as a man after God’s heart.
The thing that encourages me is that Ruth would never have known this.
We know how things worked out because we know how the story ends. But Ruth didn't.
When she died she would not have known the role she played in changing the world. She would only have looked back and thought, "Well, my life didn't go the way I expected!"