Like anything else I get into, I’m approaching marriage with the same meticulous work ethic. I haven’t lived a life conducive to successful relationships but I’m determined to make sure Yasmin and I have a strong marriage. This means having to undo and unlearn many wrong things, but more importantly, it means developing a new set of beautiful skills. I’ve realized that a lot of these skills, these attitudes, and these lifestyles could have and should have been developed early on. I used to think there were special “marriage skills”, and maybe there are, but I’ve come to realize that the essentials, life-laying love, faithfulness, generosity, forgiveness, humility, grace, among others, are traits we can cultivate even before the idea of marriage enters our minds.
In the story of Ruth, there’s a part there where Naomi (her mother in law), urges her not to follow her back to Israel but to return to Moab, where she’s from. Here are the verses found in Ruth 1:15:
And she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
Ruth displayed the faithfulness required for a successful marriage to Naomi in a time of mourning and instability. It made more sense for her to go back to the familiarity of Moab, where her previous community and previous belief systems lay. But Ruth would display the idea of “leaving and cleaving”, basically saying, “I have a new life with you now. Wherever that is, whoever that’s with, whatever that means, I’m with you.” This is also the first time we see the idea of “’till death do us part”. We sometimes see faithfulness as the trait of someone who just sticks around no matter what, but faithfulness is much more than that. One is not a passive victim nor a stubborn fool in being faithful. Faithfulness is the determined effort to be where your loved one is.
If I could turn back time, I would have cultivated the practice of faithfulness more effectively by being faithful to the relationships, whether family, friends, , that I already had better by doing the following:
- Committing to that which God has placed around me even when circumstances are difficult.
- Leave Moab, meaning leave the things, the ideas, the practices that are not in line with the ones I do love.
In the process of limiting our options to that which God has given us and being determined to develop these relationships, we will not only see amazing results from sticking to things, but also grow in the incredibly necessary discipline of faithfulness.