Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go to the field so that I may glean among the ears of grain behind someone in whose eyes I might find favor.”
Naomi replied to her, “Go, my daughter.”
Elanor Roosevelt is supposed to have said, “Do something every day that scares you.” Maybe she was thinking of Ruth, who took that maxim to its extreme, when, after the sudden death of her husband, she followed her mother-in-law to a foreign country and then insisted on providing for them both. In this verse, Ruth takes her courage and, first, confronts her mother-in-law about her plan and then, with her mother-in-law’s consent, walks out the door to execute it. Courage is more than persistence. Persistence is the exhausted cheerleader inside your brain waving a half-hearted just-get-through-the-game pompom. Courage is what happens when, given the choice, you choose the path with the greatest possibility even though it terrifies you. Imagine what would’ve happened if Ruth had chosen to stay home—never made a career as a professional gleaner, never met Boaz, never married Boaz and provided for her mother-in-law. Not exactly: because of cultural convention, Ruth probably would’ve eventually ended up married to one of her mother-in-law’s relatives—but because of her courage, she gets a level of choice and consent in her marriage that was otherwise impossible. Courage is choosing to stay an agent in your own life when you have the option to become passive. To happen to the world instead of letting the world happen to you.
Takeaway: Of course your task today is to do something that scares you. A big scare or a little scare, but something to take that amorphous cloud of fear and stick it into a courage-shaped jar that fits in your pocket. Sign up for that salsa class; make a plan to pay off your credit card debt; call the therapist whose number you’ve had for weeks. Do something that scares you—because you’re already scared, the difference is that today you’re doing something.
Gathering the Stones is providing 40 days of reflections on resilience during Lent. Check back for new reflections every day (except Sundays).