"Again they cried openly. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye; but Ruth embraced her and held on. Naomi said, "Look your sister-in-law is going back home to live with her own people and gods; go with her." But Ruth said, "Don't force me to leave you; don't make me go home. Where you go, I go; and where you live, I'll live. Your people are my people, your God is my god; where you die, I'll die, and that's where I'll be buried, so help me God--not even death itself is going to come between us."--Ruth 1: 14-18 (NIV)
I had not seen my best friend in fourteen years. We were as close as sisters. In fact, we had a shared nickname; we called each other "Moo". We loved life, laughter, creativity, adventure and some times the ill-fated rollerblading trip down suicide hill. We were a pair. Picture Lucy and Ethel, Lavern and Shirley, Calvin and Hobbes, and Thelma and Louise rolled up into one relationship. We were inseparable until... I chose to let go of friendship and chase what I thought was love.
In Ruth 1, Orpah and Ruth were at a crossroads. Orpah kissed her friend goodbye. Ruth clung to her friend for dear life. One chose security, a man, and a little god. One chose the unknown, friendship, and the God of the universe. Like Orpah, I chose a man over friendship and true love (God's love). Orpah and I settled for the known, the familiar, the guaranteed safest route. What we conceived to be risky, unsure, and unlikely was truly the right path. Neither Orpah nor I could picture ourselves on the road less traveled.
The interesting thing to me about the first verse is that Orpah kissed Naomi goodbye. It never says that she thought one day about the fate of Naomi and Ruth. Orpah walked away without as much as a glance over her shoulder. I admit that I did that. I, too, walked away to do what I thought was best. I never looked back. I never missed "Moo" anymore.
Over the last few months, my friend found me on Facebook. I accepted her friend invitation hesitantly. I noticed her status updates and made occasional comments. I perused her family photographs--two cute cherubs appeared repeatedly in the pictures. I couldn't help but tearing up at the thought of missing their births and being called "Aunty Moo".
Through the hot tears, my heart began to thaw. Via a heartfelt chat session one night, my Moo and I started patching up the potholes of our relationship. Through that discussion, I started to see things that I had missed so long ago--her sensitivity, deep affection, confidence, wisdom, and pleasantness. Little by little, the fourteen year gap began to close.
In due time, she stepped out on faith and sent me an invitation to her daughters' joint birthday party. At first, I was reserved. I wanted to think it through, talk to my husband, and continue tip toeing into the shallow end of the friendship pool. However, after the first few seconds of thought, it was no brainer. Clearly, God was giving me an opportunity to leap into the deep end head first.
I drove four hours to Maryland not knowing what to expect. Praying, singing, and worshipping the whole way. When I arrived, what I found far exceeded anything I could think or imagine. She was sitting on the steps of her house waiting for my arrival. I toddled out of the car; we greeted each other with a hug, a kiss, and buckets of tears. We embraced each other and held on for fourteen years worth of missed hugs.
In that moment, I hoped and prayed that my friend would see that there was a change in me. Not something superficial like weight gain, hair color, or age, but something deeper, something radiant shining from within. I hoped and prayed that she would see Ruth.
In the fourteen year hiatus, my secure life had been shattered to pieces. I had no way to recover from all of the pain and grief that I went through. Like Ruth, I had been a person who was a foreigner, shrouded in death, darkness, and hopelessness; then through a divine choice, I stepped into life and love's pure light. Through that one choice, my life had been completely transformed from sinner to saint, from proud to humble, from a divorced, broken woman to a noble woman and wife of character, from an unfit mother to a mother of three beautiful gifts, from a non friend to a friend like Ruth.
I stayed overnight with her. We chatted pleasantly and caught up a bit on what had gone on since we last saw each other. We were happy just to be together again. The next afternoon, we went to the birthday party. It was a frenzy of movement, color, and people. However, no matter where Moo was in the room, I instinctively knew where she was. I could be on the other side of the room and still get her attention to challenge her to a race through the inflatable obstacle course. One look and we were blazing a trail through the tubes laughing our heads off, just like old times.
After the party, I stayed another night and we really dug into some of the things that had gone wrong in the past. It was a relief to finally set things straight and experience forgiveness and reconciliation at the same time. We were crying when we parted, but promised to stay in touch.
When I got home, I was floating on a cloud. My husband inquired how the weekend was; so I gave him a run down of the events. Then he asked how I felt about it. My eyes began to puddle and drip. I related the story about being at the birthday party. Then, I answered him, "Honey, if you are my soul mate; then Candy is my soul friend." Later that night, I sent her a message thanking her for the weekend and telling her that she was my soul friend. Her response was simple and so perfect, "...if it is all the same to you, I'd prefer to be called your Soul Moo."
• Do you have a friend or family member with whom you've lost touch?
• Is there some misunderstanding that needs to be clarified or even forgiven? Don’t waste anymore time. Find them and forgive them as fast as your feet will take you.
• Has God completely transformed your life? Take a minute and recall those times. Lift your voice in praise to the Most High God.
Promises to Hold Close:
• Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
• Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5 (NIV)
• What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ's body we're all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don't use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don't stay angry. Don't go to bed angry. Don't give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Ephesians 4: 25 – 27 (MSG)
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