Naomi lost her husband and sons and started on her journey to Bethlehem with Ruth by her side. We can read about Naomi’s words to the townspeople when they arrive, but nothing is mentioned about what took place on the journey there. It simply says they left with Naomi speaking to Ruth.
They left walking together. Ruth listening, Naomi speaking.
We can imagine the relationship between the two women, like strands twisting and binding together to form a stronger rope. One spoke while the other listened. One cried while the other caught her tears. One screamed while the other mourned. One gleaned while the other rested. One prayed while the other trusted. Then, one listened while the other spoke.
These were women walking together.
My Journey to Bethlehem
In July 2019, I received a sudden breast cancer diagnosis and started my journey to Bethlehem. I cancelled jobs, prepared my husband to be dad and mom and finally told my girlfriends. I started on my journey, not realizing my Ruth’s were waiting on me.
I rebuked them the same as Naomi, until finally God showed me there was an important lesson for me to learn on this journey. I needed to learn how to allow Ruth to walk with me. I was great at walking with her, but too proud to allow her to walk with me. Like Naomi, I too felt like God was breaking me.
Finally I agreed to my Ruth’s and we left, walking together.
I talked and they listened. They prayed and I listened. I screamed and they said “Louder!” I cried and they caught my tears. To my surprise, my suffering didn’t scare them. My anger didn’t make them run. And when I fell, they were there, strong enough to carry me.
As we walked together I realized the unconscious deal we were making. I would suffer openly. I would live out this cancer process for everyone to see, if they would walk with me. This would not be my story, but our story. I would live out this faith we speak so much of, if they would continue to remind me of it. I would walk in the valley of the shadow of death if they would use their prayers to light my way. I would keep standing if they would hold me up.
And they did! Just like Ruth, they never left me. I didn’t realize the importance of this partnership until afterwards.
I felt I was being called into a role of living out my pain for others to see. I had never thought about public suffering before and the need for it, but people need to see that it’s safe to feel. They need someone to give them permission. They need someone to feel the emotions they are afraid to feel and say the thoughts they are afraid to speak. They need to see that water is safe.
That’s what Naomi does. She gives us permission to lose it for a minute. When we reveal our brokenness, we also show how God will mend our scars. When we are brave enough to show our emptiness and weakness, this gives God the space to show up and provide the healing. Not our might, but His.
Walking with Ruth
After my diagnosis I prayed, begged, for a miracle. I wanted instant healing. I didn’t want to walk. But often, our healing doesn’t happen through miraculous encounters with angels or spontaneous disappearance of diseases, it happens as we walk to Bethlehem with Ruth.
A vital part to this healing journey is Ruth. It’s the partnership we have not only with God, but with His Body. He operates through His Body. He became alive to me through my Ruth’s. We have been made for relationship. It is the activation to every formula, to every situation. I have always been independent to a fault. This lesson of partnership and relationship was one that my walk to Bethlehem would teach me, and one that would change me forever.
Praise before the Breakthrough
October 2019, I invited 40 of my Ruth’s to celebrate with me. I was about to complete my chemotherapy and I wanted them to help me praise before my breakthrough. We broke bread and sang and “qavahed”. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life.
This month is my one year anniversary of being cancer free. I have experienced a healing possible only from the power of God working through His people. The power of love through relationship has healed me.
Just as Ruth walked with Naomi, my Ruth’s walked with me. And now, here we all are, in Bethlehem birthing babies, bringing life to other’s through our stories.
I give you these words to encourage you, Naomi, to allow Ruth to walk with you. To God be the glory!