6 Then she started to return with her daughters-in-law from the country of Moab, for she had heard in the country of Moab that the Lord had considered his people and given them food. 7 So she set out from the place where she had been living, she and her two daughters-in-law, and they went on their way to go back to the land of Judah. 8 But Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you, as you have dealt with the dead and with me. 9 The Lord grant that you may find security, each of you in the house of your husband.” Then she kissed them, and they wept aloud. 10 They said to her, “No, we will return with you to your people.” 11 But Naomi said, “Turn back, my daughters, why will you go with me? Do I still have sons in my womb that they may become your husbands? 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way, for I am too old to have a husband. Even if I thought there was hope for me, even if I should have a husband tonight and bear sons, 13 would you then wait until they were grown? Would you then refrain from marrying? No, my daughters, it has been far more bitter for me than for you, because the hand of the Lord has turned against me.” 14 Then they wept aloud again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.
15 So she said, “See, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods; return after your sister-in-law.” 16 But Ruth said,
“Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you!
Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge;
your people shall be my people, and your God my God.
17 Where you die, I will die—there will I be buried.
May the Lord do thus and so to me, and more as well, if even death parts me from you!”
18 When Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more to her.
We all have families, not only our children, but our own parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, as well as extended families, such as in-laws (including former in-laws), etc. We do not usually have a choice regarding who are family members are, as we are born into the family, or have them enter our lives through marriage. Even after a marriage or relationship ends, many of those extended family member we gained through that (now dissolved) union do not go anywhere, because of the connect they have to our children…and sometimes to us as well.
Though I have been divorced for about 16 years, I still keep in touch with some of my former in-laws, and not only because my daughter is still related to them, but also because I like them. Family does not have to be biological, if it did, I would have a very small family indeed – consisting only of myself and my daughter. Thankfully, family does not always mean “blood” but does mean that there is a connection that cannot be broken…even by something like a divorce, death or even resentment.
As many of us may have become single parents due to a broken relationship it could be easy for us to justify carrying a grudge against those who we feel have done us wrong; however, it is not healthy for us as it prevents us from moving on and healing…and when it is a family member who is important in our children’s lives (like the other parent, grandparents or aunts and uncles) it is certainly not good for them either.
One of the things I truly dislike is watching two parents fighting through their children, slinging insults and putting down the “other parent” to the kids, without regard to how this will affect them! Now I am NO saint, and had my moments of anger and disdain towards my ex-wife, and came very close to pulling our daughter into the fray, but I did not…because I knew it would only hurt her. I would like to say I came about this wisdom on my own, but that would be a lie; I learned how damaging fighting through the kids could be in the counseling courses I took in seminary, and this was backed up through my own counselor, who helped me not to express my anger through my daughter.
Taking this course, also helped me to find forgiveness for my ex-wife, and this led to me making amends to her for the wrongs I had done…and this led us to find reconciliation, not as husband and wife (that would not work) but as friends, and as parents to our daughter. This has been a great gift as we have worked to guide our daughter through the challenging teen-aged years.
Being on good terms with my daughter’s mother has also helped me to stay in touch with the rest of her family, and this too has been good for my daughter. I have seen in some families of divorce that one side of the family has been cut-off from the kids, or at best given limited access. I never saw the point of making my daughter pay the price for the break-down of our marriage (something she had nothing to do with). As long as I knew she was safe, I was fine with visits, and I knew she was safe because I continued to communicate with the “other side” of her family.
Sure it is not always easy to “bury the hatchet” with those we might hold resentments towards, but it is better for everyone, even if the result is that we just stay civil. To keep these lines of communications open is crucial, as though we are single parents, most of us really do not raise our children alone…and certainly not in a vacuum, so it is better to be on good terms with the other people in their lives, and who knows, you may find that you like those you were once related to, and discover un-thought of resources that can help us through the sometimes challenging waters of raising our children!
After all, when it all comes right down to it, we are all part of the same family…as we are all well-loved children of God!
Let us Pray
God, thank you for the love you have given to us, and for the gift of our children and our families…even those members we may find more difficult to love. Help us to remember that we are all part of YOUR family, all loved, all forgiven, and none of us perfect! Help us to make amends where needed, and to learn to forgive wrongs done to us. Let us remember that in all we do we are making Christ known not only to the world, but also to our children.