What If This Was the Cure to What Ails Us?2
11 …Naomi said, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me?...
14 At this they wept aloud again. Then Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye, but Ruth clung to her. 15 “Look,” said Naomi, “your sister-in-law is going back to her people and her gods. Go back with her.”
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
17 Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”18 When Naomi realized that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped urging her.
Ruth’s lavish expression of commitment to Naomi is a favorite passage for Christian weddings. But really it’s a passage that better describes a biblical vision for kinship that has morphed into friendship.
Ruth is voluntarily committing herself to her mother-in-law in a moment when she has been blessed to opt-out and no one would fault her for doing so.
We don’t know much about this kind of friendship in our transient society. The drivers of the major decisions in most of our lives have mostly to do with education, career, job opportunities, and occasionally family needs.
Perhaps there isn’t much we can do about that given the culture we’re in. But perhaps we are all much poorer for never having committed ourselves to a friendship in this way outside of perhaps a marriage.
The Amish have a near-zero percentage rate of depression in their society. People from all over the globe have studied this phenomenon and decided there’s only one thing that accounts for it: community—family and friendships that are rock-solid and not going anywhere.
Perhaps the exponential increase in mental health issues in our country, particularly depression and anxiety, have as much to do with our lack of relational constancy as anything else.
In a moment when it would be much easier for Ruth to have stayed where it was more comfortable for her, she forfeits comfort for something much more significant: friendship.
Take a moment to evaluate your friendships today. What’s one step that you might take today to develop or deepen a friendship or potential friendship that you might have?