How to Pursue Your Boaz (Like Ruth Did!)

Is there anyone here not familiar with the story of Ruth? So often cited in Christian circles as justification why women can make the first move, we look at her story with profound interest. I’ve always been intrigued by the lives of the women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus and every time, I find myself thoroughly enjoying the way they were, in their own ways, rather scandalous.

Every year starting December 1, I re-visit the stories of the people part of Jesus’ ancestry and so once again dwelled on the story of Ruth. I thought of her as scandalous in the sense that she went and “made the first move”, which I figured was acceptable in their context and culture, but I came to see that things went much deeper than that.

The overarching theme of Ruth was Naomi’s bitterness turning into joy as she saw God redeem her and her family. Ruth’s story is that of an outsider being taken in and shown love and mercy. It’s much more of a testimony of God’s grace and faithfulness than anything else.

Don’t we all want our love stories to look like that? Here’s how Ruth got it right.

But Ruth said, “Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” And when Naomi saw that she was determined to go with her, she said no more.
-Ruth 1:16-18

Upon closer inspection, we could see that Ruth was anything but the take-control, aggressive woman we made her out to be. All throughout her book, we could only see one thing she was determined about: going where Naomi would go. In fact, it was when she was eligible to get married to younger, richer men that she decided to leave everything behind and follow wherever the Lord, through Naomi, would lead her and call her to. She basically gave up her right to live her life the way she wanted to.

Forgive me for saying this, but we have become a culture so obsessed with self. Instead of looking at our singlehood as an opportunity to serve, we see it as a time to focus on self.

I’m not saying that self-development and discovery is wrong in any way, but while we’re busy bemoaning our relationship status, complaining about the lack of available men, and scrolling through social media sites, children out there are dying of starvation, women are being sold and prostituted, and families are broken apart by sickness and poverty. We are present at every singles get-together and retreat, yet we wouldn’t even sacrifice a couple of hours to be of service to other people.

And then we have Ruth, who laid all of her to serve the person entrusted to her.

She said, ‘Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves after the reapers.’ So she came, and she has continued from early morning until now, except for a short rest.” She gleaned in the field until evening. Then she beat out what she had gleaned, and it was about an ephah of barley. And she took it up and went into the city. Her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. She also brought out and gave her what food she had left over after being satisfied.
–Ruth 2:7, 17-18

From the very beginning, her intention and her service was for her mother-in-law. Every decision that she made from the time her husband died was not to her own advantage. In fact, she basically shunned the thought of marriage and prioritized working and providing for Naomi. Her desire was not for herself. Naomi then had to be the one to convince her to get back in the game again.

And even then Ruth in her humility responded,

“All that you say I will do” (Ruth 3:5).

I think one thing a lot of us overlook is that when Ruth approached Boaz, she didn’t do so because he was the one she desired or because he paid attention to her. She did so because he was her kinsman and culturally, one of the few people who can redeem her family lineage and legacy. She did not do so out of her own volition, she did so out of submission.

Her act of going to Boaz did not speak “I like you Boaz so please marry me” as most of us would interpret it. What she was truly saying was, “In order to redeem the family name of Naomi, I am willing to be a living sacrifice and thus offer myself as your wife.”

Ladies, let’s be completely honest here. We all want to be in a relationship, but how many of us are ready to offer ourselves like that? And if we wouldn’t even let God refine our hearts to get to that point, then why bother magnifying your desire for a guy in the first place?

At one point or another, you have probably come across a Jim/Elisabeth Elliot quote, but I love this one certain line from a letter before they got married:

“Let not our longing slay our appetite for living.”

We’re all always longing for something. Love. Relationships. Family. Peace. Provision. Security. Health. Beauty. Purpose. We’re all longing – each and every one of us. Yet all of these must not in any way hinder us from living; from embracing and thriving where we are now, with what we have now.

I’ve talked to countless women who said they were praying to end up with a godly guy, only to find out 5 sentences later that they’re doing so in the throng of bars, speed-dating, and matchmaking sites. I’ve had single women older than me come up to me and ask me to write about how we live in a generation where men are afraid of commitment and pursuit, more so than any other generation before.

And I’m not going to deny the statistics. The trend goes far beyond the romance department. Working for the ministry, high on the list of our greatest, most pressing needs are male missionaries who would be willing to go places and spearhead certain pursuits. We have a huge pool of women volunteering themselves to go to the most dangerous of places because there is such a lack of men willing to rise up. (While I would love to discuss that in length, this isn’t quite the place or post to do so).

Either way, I believe that this does not at all hinder God’s stories for His children. Our frustration does not in any way give us the right to grab the pen from God’s hands and try to overwrite what He has already spoken. The fact that the cute office-mate you have is brave enough to pursue you does not change the fact that he’s not a follower of Christ. You being convinced that it’s your season to be in a relationship does not mean that you’re right.

If God wanted you married by now, then He would have found a way to bring a man into your life by now. It would certainly entail obedience from both sides, but He is more than capable of using the most unlikely of circumstances to, at the very least, get things moving. He managed to bring Eve to Adam when Adam didn’t even know someone like her existed after all.

The thing about the book of Ruth was that there was no angel visitation or apparent supernatural manifestation but her seemingly ordinary life was marked with divine orchestration – all started by her humble act of submission and catapulted by her obedience. Ruth did not just happen to end up in Boaz’s field, where he took notice of her, and it was no coincidence that he was her kinsman redeemer. It was all God, moving behind the scenes all along.

God writes the best stories, but only if you allow Him to hold the pen.

So if you really want to pattern out the way you approach your love life according to Ruth, then here’s how you can start:

Yield. Surrender. Obey.

Dear Ladies: Guard His Heart

We hear a lot about how we ladies should guard our hearts and we tell men a lot to guard women, but how often do we think about guarding the hearts of guys?

I know we tend to have general boundaries, yet I think now would be a good time to remember to set our boundaries not just according to our weaknesses but also according to theirs. It helps to know that these men are wired differently as individuals and have different triggers, and I believe it is always good to gauge where a man stands in his emotions and vulnerabilities even as you examine yours.

I’ve said this before in a previous post, but it’s worth repeating. When Solomon wrote that one should guard the heart, he was speaking about having wisdom in his heart and protecting it. And so this is a lesson that we should probably never outgrow, keeping this wisdom and guarding it.

Ladies, we’ve all probably heard of the people around us warning us about guys, how they’re only “after one thing” and how they can play around with emotions of girls. And while it is true that some certain guys do that, isn’t it also true that we can be considered just as “dangerous” to them? There is a reason that Proverbs is full of warnings against “the vixen.” We may be aware or unaware of our charms, but trust me when I say that men notice and it is because of such that we ought to be careful. I'm not saying don't be friendly. I'm not saying don't care. I'm simply saying that we have femininity that is considered alluring, and we can choose to use it either as a Delilah or as an Esther.

I want to tell you not to “casually” bump into him on the street. I want to tell you not to do things and even post things on Facebook in attempts to subtly catch his attention when you know he’s not yours to keep. I want to speak about how it’s possible for a girl to play so closely near the line, for no other reason than to see if he’ll show any sign of attraction. I want to go on and on about flirting and leading guys on and body language and a million specific things, but I won’t. I won’t give you a list of dos and how tos. I don’t need to. The only thing I need to tell you is to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself; to love the men in your life with purity and wish no harm – emotionally or otherwise – upon them.

Women, we have a part in inspiring, encouraging, and protecting the men in our lives, no matter how “big, strong, and capable” they already appear. They long for affection and love just as much as we do – and we may be unknowingly filling their tanks when we shouldn’t be. We have just as much power over their hearts as they have over ours.

In the same way, guard his heart from your tongue. Let’s admit it. We can be nagging and condescending and criticizing. We are able to build them up and tear them down with our mere words. Don’t use the power you have to demean, manipulate, or bash. Use your words to challenge, motivate, and set them free to become who they were called to be.

It’s so easy to say that it’s not our obligation and that it’s all up to them to fix their responses to what we do, but isn’t that extremely selfish? It may take a little more effort on our part to be aware of us and of others, but isn’t that what relationships are about? Isn’t that what loving is about?

Doesn't the fact that we're created from man's rib imply how we have a role in  guarding his heart?

It’s amazing to think that the Greek word kosmos translates to adornment in English. As a woman, your source of adornment comes from the source of the cosmos. You are most beautiful when you are immersed in His universe, filled to the brim with His love, grace, and joy, leaving a trail of stars wherever you go. And in the same way that people can feel either belongingness or loneliness as they stare off into the sky, you have the same ability to uplift and to bring down.

You can either pull people into your orbit and get them lost in sheer darkness, or you can show them galaxies of dazzling wonder and inspire them to get launched into worlds of possibilities.

Would you rather use your gravity to make them crash or to make them fly?

Rape, Catcalling, and Abuse: This Is My 20 Minutes Of Action

I honestly don’t know how to begin writing this. More than a year has passed since the Stanford rape happened yet it has only been days since the issue blew up when the verdict was passed, and since then I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It wasn’t just that the rapist got a light sentence, it wasn’t just that this case is high profile although I have always had great interest in those. It was the fact that the father of this boy went ahead and downplayed the crime that his son did – and they both went as far as hiring professional witnesses, manipulating statements after finding out that the victim couldn’t remember anything, and re-victimizing the lady just so they can find something to use against her.

I have been looking for a way to participate in actions against the sentence from this side of the world, only to find out a couple of hours ago that amidst the public outcry, his 6-month sentence might even be cut in half as stated by county sheriff. And so resigned, I decided that the best form of action I have is to speak up and address something else; something that goes beyond speaking out about faulty justice systems, entitled schoolboys, and rape culture because there are already so much of that (although I have also done quite that on my Facebook page 🙈).

Our sexually-stimulated culture has been desensitized to both men and women being objectified. Ogling someone of the opposite gender can be done blatantly with no repercussions; catcalls and hot stares follow the footsteps of almost every person who ever dare walk the streets alone; fear and anxiety prickle through the body whenever the darkness of the night begins to hide the light.

Low whistles, undressing gazes, and “accidental” brushes have marked my almost every turn since I was 11, a mere freshman in high school. I have had guys who appeared well-mannered approach me in places I deemed safe, proving my first impression wrong when they start crossing personal boundaries. It didn’t matter if I was wearing my school uniform, loose sweater and jeans, or a tight-fitting top and short shorts – they were relentless. At first, I was a fireball – snapping and angrily staring back at whoever dares to hoot at me, only realizing afterwards that the aggressiveness arouses boys even more and so I have learned to keep my mouth shut. I have learned that should I make the wrong move, I would be accused for “stimulating” these boys by the way I dress, the way I move, or the way I speak. I have learned that maybe the best way to stay safe was to keep quiet. I have learned to ignore the stares, brush off the suggestive words, shake away the lingering hands, and quickly walk straight ahead with my head steely held high – barely batting an eyelash while my friends and siblings get riled up and angry for my sake. Each and every time they do, I tell them not to, acting like I was okay even when my heart and body were rigid. I tell them to shake it off, always pretending that being near strange males did not make me feel paralyzed and paranoid, never sharing how many times I only pretend to be brave. I don’t tell them of how often I have to convince myself to give guys I don’t know the benefit of the doubt still; of how hard I have to fight my defensive stance in desire to be gracious and not be judgmental. I tell them to let it be because getting upset won’t change a thing and having accepted that fact, I have gotten used to it. 

When was it ever okay for human beings to get used to this – being treated like an animal displayed in a zoo? When was it ever okay to steal a person’s dignity with a single look, a single word, a single touch; with 20 minutes of action?

The image of the Creator sketched into the face of the beloved – vandalized. The worth the Savior has declared when He died so humanity can live – denied.

How can we go back to the design of the Father, leading children in the way that they should go – mothers raising kids who know the value of women, fathers raising children with strength that serves others? How can we not be like Adam and Eve who looked for someone to blame, and instead learn to be accountable for our actions, humbly accepting the mistakes we have made and the consequences that come with them?

People, the decisions we make when we are “provoked” only speak of what is truly in our hearts. An attractive person passed out drunk isn’t “asking for it.” A woman dressed provocatively or a man walking around topless doesn’t mean they want to be jumped by a breathing organism who can’t keep hormones under control. Act like you are of honor because you are, no matter what the circumstance. Your actions are completely your own. Take responsibility for your body so precious that it had to be paid for in blood.

Because men, this is how God loves women: that when He chose to enter the world, He chose to do so by entrusting Himself to a woman. He believed in her strength to stand with her head held high amidst rumors and scandals. He hid Himself inside her womb and allowed Himself to be cared for by her love and gentleness. When a scandalous woman laid at His feet and His disciples were outraged, He defended her, protected her, and lifted her high in spite of her reputation. He never would have leered at her or made sexual insinuations. When He rose again, He decided to reveal Himself first to women, commissioning them to testify even when no man would believe in a woman’s testimony at the time. He made them heroes and gave them regard in a time when culture wouldn’t. He saw them for who they are – human beings of respect and value completely in their own right. Who are we to not do the same?

And women, this is how God loves men: that He chose to reveal Himself in masculine form. He entrusted to man the task and authority to rule over His crearion. Time and time again He had believed in a seemingly ordinary man’s ability and proceeded to use this man to bring change that impacted peoples and nations. The Bible has acknowledged good-looking men several times and yet aside from fleeting mentions of that fact, they were ultimately upheld for their accomplishments, their character, and their integrity. He Himself walked the streets of earth as a man with no impressive physical acclaim, wanting to be known not for how He looks but how He loves. Men have failed Him over and over again yet He continues to trust in their strength amidst weakness. He taught them how to be men, He never gave them an excuse to not be men, He never robbed them of being men. Who are we to not do the same?

This is the truth – that every crevisce of every being to walk this planet was carefully crafted by God; that Christ’s body was battered and His blood flowed out in torrents just so His love can be felt by every soul. And as a people, let us not allow the world to destroy what He built. Let us make our voices heard. Let us make our lives speak. In a world where only 3 out of every hundred rapists are arrested, let us fight for justice. In a nation where 1 out of 4 experience physical or sexual violence, let us fight to speak up. In a city where we have to keep looking over our shoulder in fear, let us be unmoved in courage. In a generation that pushes obscenity and vulgarism, let us be undeterred in purity and respect. In a culture where everyone bends, let us stand. Because this, this is the heart of a true Father.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
-Micah 6:8

For everyone interested in this particular Stanford case, you can sign a petition ousting the judge through the White Houses’s WeThePeople here or through change.org here. If you live in the United States, you can file for a recall by mailing a complaint. Please send me an email or a message through the contact box placed somewhere on the right of this webpage and I will send you the format and the details. I know it may not seem like much but at this point, this is the most action we can do and it matters. Thank you!

Featured image from The Guardian article, photo by Tessa Ormenyi. Note that I wrote this in such a way to acknowledge that both men and women experience rape and abuse. I understand rape culture and its bias against women but I chose to state things in a way that highlights value and respect on both accounts.

Dear Pretty Lady: You Are Not Cheap

Dear Pretty Lady,

I know there’s so much more to you than a pretty face and an attractive body.

So let me say this: you are worth far more than a booty call or a flirty text. You deserve more than mixed signals and promises unfulfilled. You cannot be demeaned by catcalls and lingering gazes.

You do not have to reveal your body to get men to like you. You do not have to distinguish your value based on the number of likes you get on social media. You do not have to post an album of selfies and bikini shots just to show everyone how pretty you are. You do not have to have a new boyfriend every time a relationship fails because it makes you feel secure. You do not have to starve yourself thin just so you can be as physically attractive as the photoshopped women on magazines. You do not have to change your values so that your peers would like you.

Just because everyone else is lowering their standards and values doesn’t mean that you should too. You were made to stand out. You may have had a messy past, but who doesn’t? You don’t have to doubt your worth, and you don’t have to prove it to other people.

Therefore I plead you, do not give in to someone just because he gives you the butterflies, because emotions are easily manipulated. Wait for the one who will pursue you like a dying man in the desert would pursue water, wait for the man who knows your true value – the way God sees you. Do not expose your precious body and soul to a man who does not understand that such a treasure is worth waiting and working for. Do not succumb to the pressures of this culture and cover yourself in piles of makeup and facades of personality just to be “cool” and accepted. You are beautiful just as you are, and friends who do not see that might not be real friends at all.

You are not defined by how many men court you, by how many followers you have, nor by how pretty everyone else says you are.

Your value was declared and decided when the One who is love gave up His life for you. Know who He says you are, His beloved, His princess. You are worth pursuing, you are worth waiting for, you are worth dying for.

You are worth so much more.

You are a series of complexities, layering upon the other, an endless adventure to the people who are privileged enough to be let in on your journey. You are every possible color slammed together in one canvas, an abstract appreciated by those who are educated enough to know that art encompasses a broad range of wonder, and induces a wide range of emotions.

There may be times you feel so filled by darkness that you cannot see beyond yourself, but trust me, you are the universe. And there are so many stars and galaxies living inside of you, waiting to burst and show true stellar potential.

You are gold, constantly being refined. You are a precious jewel, rare and hard to find.

You are a pearl, and you do not throw pearls to pigs.