By: Jennifer Lentfer
Readings: Ruth 1:6-18, 2 Peter 3:1-10, Psalm 146:5-10
For almost a decade now, I’ve been writing about how the longing to help other people is actually about you. How we “show up” for and with other people – in our relationships and in our actions – starts with how we first show up for ourselves, with our whole selves before God, and then translate that into collective action.
Ruth shows up for Naomi in today’s first reading in a big way. Naomi’s husband and sons have died. She is afraid of being alone and needs food, but assumes that her daughters-in-law will leave her to remarry. Ruth refuses. She will not “turn back” from Naomi.
Who loves you that way? Who are the people who remind you that you are brave when you are scared? The people who hold faith and hope for you when you feel hopeless or overwhelmed? The people who hold you accountable to what you say you will do? The people who help you stay true to who you are?
These are the people for which I long in my life, in the flesh. Some days I know they are standing right next to me. Some days these accompanying souls feel very far from me. All days I can take that longing to God, for whom Peter writes, “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.”
This longing is important because the people who show up for us are often the same people who can inspire us and push beyond their own comfort zones to do more, together. As the Church, we long for people to join with us in deeper and more meaningful ways. We long for people to take up “the cause of the oppressed” as the Psalmist writes, so that we set to action – giving food to the hungry, setting prisoners free, watching over the foreigner, sustaining the fatherless and the widow.
For too long, we have been sold that to change the world, we have to be Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. or Aung San Suu Kyi or Greta Thunberg. This is false. No social change is led by only one person. No one person is a perfect embodiment of our ideals and beliefs. It’s time to learn what history books didn’t teach us, of which the Bible offers glimpses – that we are each powerful beyond measure, but only when our hearts, values, and purpose are aligned with God and with our own souls.
When we show up for each other as Ruth showed up for Naomi, we create the future we want to see.