Sunday, July 5, 2015

"Thy People Shall be my People" - A letter to my daughter

Dear Daughter;

A week has passed since you married my son.  He whisked you off to a sandy beach somewhere warm where you played in the ocean together, he learned how to eat snow crab straight from the shell and you got a nasty sun burn while snoozing in the sun.  

It's a pretty good bet that you have already had your first major argument as man and wife.  It was probably over some silly thing like Reuben setting his wet swim trunks on top of your brand new suitcase, leaving a salt water stain and ruining the fabric.  Or maybe he was unwilling to go into that one last store you really wanted to check out with all the pretty bathing suits hanging in the window just begging to be tried on.  Trust me when I tell you, dear daughter, that thing you argued over will end up being one of your favourite honeymoon stories to tell your kids some day!  

How do I know this?  Well, my dear one, I was once on that same beach, scorched by the same sun's rays, wearing that same adoring look in my eyes, gazing on my new husband as he played in the swirling waves so many years ago.  He was my all and everything as I know Reuben is yours.  In my youthful heart, bursting with love and admiration for my new husband, I thought that he was my Boaz and I was his Ruth.

"Wither thou goest, I shall go" was a refrain that echoed in my mind. "Wither thou lodgest, there shall I lodge" comforted me and gave me courage as we began our lives together in an old farm house just a few miles from where he was born.  His quiet and firm faith was such a joy to me.  A man not of words but of actions, he swept me off my feet with the soundless gestures of a steadfast servant full of selfless giving.  I silently prayed that I might be a crown of choicest diamonds and sapphires to adorn his head and bring him honour, giving my life to him so that he might be built up more and more.  

Dearest daughter, the most amazing part of Ruth's story for me though, was the vow she made to Naomi long before she ever met Boaz.  As those two weary widows, hearts full of suffering and loss, walked slowly back towards the land of Israel, Ruth knew without a doubt where her true hope and comfort lay. "Thy people shall by my people" she said.  She, a daughter of Moab, had the audacity to cling to the covenant promises she knew in her heart were hers, no matter where she came from.  

I identified with Ruth, feeling like a stranger in a strange land.  I came from a family broken and torn apart by divorce.  Sure, I shared the same history as my husband.  We were both born of dutch immigrant parents.  We were both baptized by the same Minister, wet with the same cleansing water at our baptism when our parents promised to bring us up in the way of the Lord.  We even went to the same christian school and sang in the same church choir.  

But my youth was messy and full of the baggage that comes with the dysfunction of a broken home.  I had seen the dark side of marriage and I was not sure I could learn how to be a good and faithful wife like I saw in my mother-in-law.  In those early years, I was so inspired by the way she prepared meals for her family, gathering her children around the table for physical and spiritual sustenance every night.  Every evening my father-in-law would fold his hands and pray a simple prayer, his quiet voice laced with a thick dutch accent, petitioning for those in physical and spiritual need, always following it up with a jolly "Amen!" and "Goede bekomst!" .  It wasn't fancy but it was truly from the heart.

How would I ever fit inside this family with such a completely different upbringing than I?

I know, my daughter, that these thoughts and fears are weighing on your heart at this time as well.  You were born a pastors daughter and Reuben a farmer's son.  You were born Presbyterian and Reuben Dutch Reformed.  You were born an American and Reuben a Canadian.  You were raised in a home full of good books and rich conversation while Reuben learned through calloused hands and heavy labor.  You express your needs and desires in words while he is most comfortable with unspoken gestures.  Could the two of you be any more different?

And yet the words of Ruth which comforted my fears all those years ago, "Thy God is my God", are the great constant we all share, no matter who we are or where we come from.  He is our Saviour and our Lord.  He brings all men together through the saving power of His love.  Let His word be your guide in your married life and He will light the path forward.  He will not let you falter.  

With much love;

Your Mother