I’ve always been one of those kids who has major problems with her middle name. (I guess I shouldn’t have made that gender-specific because lots of guys don’t like their middle names either. Like my brother. But I don’t know why because he truly has the coolest middle name ever.)
It’s a perfectly normal middle name; I shouldn’t be so bothered by it.
I was named after my great-grandmother. Her name was Mary Ruth. Twin got her first name as a first name, and I got her middle name as a middle name. That’s just how it went.
(So, if you didn’t catch that, my middle name is Ruth.)
Now, if I was just named after my great-grandmother, that’d be super. She’s an amazing woman, and I really admire everything I know personally and I’ve heard about her. I’m truly honored to be named after such a strong, courageous, smart, beautiful woman of God.
I have always had problems with The Other Ruth, though.
See, when people learn my middle name, they don’t know I’m named after my great-grandmother. They automatically go, “Oh! Like Ruth from the Bible!” And, of course, I say, “Yes.”
What I really want to say is, “No. I’m named after my great-grandmother – an amazing woman I greatly admire who actually did something with her life. I’m not named after a woman whose only claim to fame is that she got married and gave birth to the line of David.”
Apparently, though, you’re not supposed to say things like that to people when they’re just being nice. And some people don’t like you talking about The Other Ruth that way.
I never understood The Other Ruth’s story. Sure, I read it. It was taught to me in Sunday school. I understood that it was about faithfulness and leaving behind everything you know for someone you love and family and caring for each other. I understood that.
I understood that there must have been struggle there. Moving’s never easy. I understood a vague concept of hardship. They were pretty alone for a while, after all.
Until very recently, though, it was, for me, just a story about a woman moving to a new place and getting married and having kids. That was it. I found nothing to admire in The Other Ruth.
Last Friday morning, The Other Ruth and I had a long heart-to-heart. I came to understand some things about her I just wasn’t grasping before. The Other Ruth explained some things to me, and they really sank in this time.
Last Friday morning (all of last week, really), I was having a really hard time. I had moved back to school, and I was miserable. I didn’t want to be back in Cookeville; I wanted to be home with my family and friends where it’s comfortable and familiar. I had community back home. I belonged there. I absolutely, positively, decidedly did not want to be in Cookeville.
I felt like I didn’t belong in Cookeville (at least not anymore). I felt all alone except for Twin, who was also having a really hard time. We spent a lot of our time taking care of each other because we were both miserable.
In the middle of all that – while I was complaining to God about not wanting to be where I was and not wanting to be nice to an also freaking-out Mary and not wanting to take the super hard tests I had coming up – The Other Ruth popped up.
“Read my story again,” she demanded.
Always ready for an excuse to not study, I told her I would and whipped out my Bible.
And almost fell out of my chair.
The Other Ruth was showing me up.
Her husband died. She left everything behind. She went to a completely foreign place where she probably wasn’t even welcomed because she was a Moabitess (or whatever the proper title for her is). She had to work to feed her and her mother-in-law.
She was humble. She was gracious. She was kind. She was patient. She was courageous. She was obedient. She was brave.
Yeah, she ended up getting married, but that’s not the point.
She stayed strong when she was somewhere, I imagine, she didn’t really want to be all the time. She took care of and was kind to her mother-in-law even though that probably wasn’t very easy all the time. She was brave and strong and did what she had to do, knowing, the whole time, she wasn’t alone.
The Lord was with her. He took care of her. He sent her the people she needed when she needed them. He worked in her life. She stayed faithful. And, then look, she got to be the mom to the whole line of David.
I am nothing like The Other Ruth. I am nowhere near the amazing person she was. I am, after all, complaining because I get to be at school and further my education so I can do what I want with my life.
I have so many things to learn from The Other Ruth. I need to learn to be content where I am. I need to learn to be brave in the face of things I don’t want to do. I need to learn to be humble. I need to learn to graciously take care of others around me who are struggling too. I need to learn to let God use me.
I’m proud to be named after The Other Ruth. She was a strong, courageous, smart, beautiful woman of God. I think I’m okay with my middle name now.
Probably. There’s still a tiny bit of me that thinks it’s a weird name, though.