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There comes a time in everyone's life where you realize the things you will never be — a professional ballet dancer, an astronaut, a multimillionaire. But what about when those things hit a little closer to home? Not married at 35. Not a mother. Not a cute old couple celebrating a 60th wedding anniversary. Such personal realizations can be tough to swallow.
That's the topic of today's article: "The Things I Won't Be." I've recently been taking a studied journey through the Old Testament (for a writing project). Through that, I encountered Ruth in a fresh way. Sandwiched between Judges and 1 Samuel (because of the story's chronological placement), Ruth tells the story of some faithful people living in a faithless time; "every man did what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 16:7, NASB). Sound familiar?
You meet Ruth — a married-in outsider to Israel — who makes a dramatic choice to follow Israel's God, the God of her mother-in-law. Enter Boaz, the offspring of a prostitute, and unlikely pillar of the community. He's also set on doing what is right, without regard to the benefit to himself.
But by far the most extraordinary character in this story is God himself, who orchestrates details to bring together two faithful people and create a family. Not just any family, but the relatives of Jesus Christ.
As I read this classic story about the Moabitess, I was struck by God's extreme sovereignty. The cultural setting was bleak. Ruth and Naomi's options were bleak. But Ruth seems unfazed by her circumstances and unwilling to give into bitterness. Instead, she forges on, doing the right thing.
During my single years, I often had to do the same thing: continue to do what I knew was right with no knowledge of whether God would give me the things I desired. This required surrender of many of my dreams and the acceptance of the things I would never be. The thing I discovered was that once I relinquished those dreams, God was there to fill me with new ones. That is why His goodness to Ruth, Boaz and even bitter Naomi touched my heart.
Ruth's story is encouragement. God works in the lives of those who are faithful. He is not bound by culture or circumstances. But to experience His "bigness," we must be pliable to His purposes. Sometimes they look very different than our own expectations. But the rewards that come with surrendering to God are eternal and satisfying. That's what we learn from Ruth.
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Comment by AnneNonymous:
A few years ago, I had a picture come into my mind of my father -- a bit older, a bit greyer -- standing at my wedding (*which still hasn't happened). The picture was *so real* I considered it a "flash" of things to come.
Not a couple months later, he passed away.
We have no idea what is to come; perhaps even those who are marrying young now won't have the opportunity to be the cute seniors celebrating a 50th anniversary, either.
Life, to me, is a constant episode of surrender and submission. Because we *don't* know. But that doesn't keep us from pressing forward; we press on.
Comment by Ashley:
Thanks Suzanne. Needed to read this. Cried for this very reason during the "How long have you been married?" dance at a friend's wedding this weekend.
The longest married couple had 54 years together. If I got married tomorrow, I would have to live to 79 to see that.
Surrendering dreams and realizing that there are things you will never be is hard stuff.
Comment by Joy:
I'm definately struggling with some of the things I won't be and some of the things I fear I might not be. At 22 I have some romantic regret and knowing I won't have certain "firsts" with my husband is disappointing to say the least. Also, I wonder if between those regrets and my age if I've missed out on being the youthfull innocent bride I always wanted to be. All I know to do is keep asking, seeking, and knocking. And hope -like I've prayed so many times before -that maybe this will be my last single holiday season.
Comment by AndreaElena:
*typing this through tears*
You can't know how timely this is for me. Know that God is using this article to do a work in me. Thank you for writing and submitting the piece.
~ AEH ~
Comment by sarah:
I'm always truly astonished how God works. This has been the exact thing God been working in my heart thoughout this past year and even more so just this past weekend at a women's conference. Life hasn't gone the way I had expected, so many twists and turns not anticipated and realizing many "unfulfilled expectations". Yet, I've come to understand that God is truly orchestrating His plan for my life, it just looks different. Upon finally grasping that realization, I've come to understand the meaning of the scripture "godliness with contentment, is great gain."
Comment by Meg:
Thank you Suzanne, I needed to hear this today. God is sovereign and knows the things I will be. I need to walk by his side, trust him, be pliable and be faithful in what he has called me to be now.
Comment by iamstrick:
This post was such a blessing! I too have to constantly walk in submission to Christ's lordship, constantly renew my mind, and constantly remind myself that even though life may not being going as *I* may have planned, God knows the plans He has for me! (Jeremiah 29:11) And I have resolved in my heart and mind to believe and know that anything God has planned for me is so much better than any dreams I can think up for myself. Thanks again for sharing this post. :)
Comment by BekahHope:
Bah. Are we all going to become blubbering balls of mush over this article? Andrea-Elena, you're not the only one who cried. This particularly got me:
"And then: You may die without ever getting married. You would not be the first. But I will show you the glories of my Kingdom."
I'm staring my 22nd birthday in the face thinking, "If singleness is like this now, what will it look like at 30?" and praying for a husband, all the while wondering if it's presumptuous to pray, "Lord, please don't make me wait."
This wrenched my heart. But in a good way - one that God will use.
Comment by Nicole:
I don't know about anyone else, but I certainly can't be the only one who has had just about enough of the whole ' hopeing and praying and waiting indefinitly" thing can I?
I know I don't think I could cope with spending my entire life alone and the odds are stacking up against me the older I get. I know there is only so much a girl can do, but If the goal is to have someone to spend your life with who isnt totally horrid, and If I can't have it how Ive always hoped and prayed for, what is the next best option to getting and giving what I need before its too late? It isn't that these stories arn't good, I just don't find them helpful in a practical sense. Is it really helpful to be so romantic about romance?
Comment by Alice:
This article has also touched my heart, thanks for sharing these timely truths. I do see in my life why God has kept me single, but do pray that my handsome prince will soon rescue me :) I am 27, and expected to be married by now. Two of my siblings married at this age, so hopefully it will be my year too.
Comment by TamarafromCanada:
As others have said, this was a timely article for me. Thanks for the encouragement.
Comment by Peter:
Life comes one day at a time,and for all our hopes and plans for the future,doing what is right today is what matters.
I like Ruth's example, doing what she needed to do, even tho it was neither easy,nor risk-free. As a man in the same age-group as Boaz, his praise of her resonates."This kindness is greater than that which you showed earlier: You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.
Comment by Stephanie:
Suzanne, thank you thank you for writing this article - it challenged me yet encouraged my heart in a deep way.
I'm going to print it out so I can do some more reflection/journaling when I have time.
Comment by Kim:
I love Ruth and Naomi! They are such encouraging women and an amazing story of God's faithfulness.
Earlier this year I read "The Book of Ruth: Loving God Enough to Break the Rules" by Carolyn Custis James. Talk about a book that made me rethink the book of Ruth in a new light! It argues that the book is more about Naomi- how she is the female version of Job- and God's faithfulness to her. Also about Ruth and her ability to move past the rules and look and challenge more about the spirit of what God wants. Highly recommend this book. Incredibly thought provoking and really takes Ruth much deeper than a love story between Ruth and Boaz; it takes it to a story of God's redemption and love of us.
As for dreams dying: it is incredibly painful. I've had many dreams die the past years even to the point I was wanting to walk away from God. Yet, He did begin to create a new thing in me when I surrendered all to Him, including my emotions and the anger I had towards Him (but that was after telling Him what I thought, precisely).
Having dreams die showed me even more how I must rely on God. It has allowed me to have a deeper relationship with God instead of a surface communication with Him. It has taught me how to live fully in the realm that God has placed me and to edify those around me.
Do I still hope? Yes. Do I still dream? Definitely. Will these things come to pass? Who knows? In the end, I have come to know God more and have a deeper relationship with Him and for that I am truly thankful.
I am more able to empathize with others, for I have experienced loss. I can also testify that even in the loss, some time later God has glorified that loss and opened more opportunities for me to learn, live, love, mentor and share with others about Christ.
People are willing to listen if they know you have suffered. You have then moved past being a hypocrit who is just offering platitudes to someone who does understand.
Comment by Spunky:
Thanks for the encouragement!
Unlike a number or readers, I was actually jumping for joy when reading this? Why?
Because it made me look at life as an adventure full of unexpected surprises! If God will requires me to be single for the rest of my life, I would still be happy because either way he has exciting plans for me.
made with ♥ by Boundless