I grew up a Conservative Christian in the South.
Now to anyone who did not grow up this way, here are a few things you need to know about it:
1) We love sweet tea.
2) We love fried food.
3) We have a lot of rules.
A. Lot. Of. Rules. We’ve got rules for everything: how to behave in public, how to talk to people, even when it’s appropriate when to be barefoot. If it involves any sort of human interaction, we’ve probably got a rule for it.
Nowhere is this epidemic more evident than in the arena of selecting a future mate.
Rather than bore you with the entire list, let me just skip to the number one rule. This is the rule that governs everything else:
Guys always make the first move.
Guys have to be the first ones to say hey, to ask for her number, to send her a text in the morning. Men have to be the first ones to initiate any sort of romance in any setting – otherwise no romance will occur.
This is more then a rule y’all, this is doctrine. Youth pastors from around the world whip out the old relationship series and give a list of reasons why guys should do certain things in a relationship and girls should do other things. Every year they would hold up one of the major females of the bible as an example of the modest-christian-full-of-integrity-take-care-of-the-house-proverbs-31 woman. These women include Esther, Mary, and Ruth.
I’ve always thought it was interesting that they would use Ruth as an example of how a woman should conduct herself. This is always told in conjunction with shouts of “Where’s my Boaz?” and an encouragement to the young ladies to wait until the right man would come along and sweep her off her feet.
The problem is whenever I read the story of Ruth I just never seem to see the same sort of passive and submissive waiting-for-her-Boaz type woman she’s made out to be.
The story goes something like this: Naomi goes back to the land of Israel where she originally came from, and despite her misgivings, Ruth is determined to stay. Problem is, being two widows, one of them a foreigner, they don’t have many food options. So Ruth finds herself picking up the leftovers from the harvest of the sugardaddy of Bethlehem: Boaz.
She happens to catch his eye, so he asks around to see who she is – come to find out she’s Naomi’s daughter and has been working in the fields since early that morning. So he goes over and tells her to follow the men who are harvesting (he warned them already not to mess with her) and pick up their leftovers.
So Ruth goes home and tells Naomi what happened. Here is where we get the whole concept of the kinsman redeemer, the one who by law is supposed to rescue the two widows from their struggles. This is the point of the story where pastors start going on about waiting for the right man who will pursue girls or how Jesus will come and redeem the church. This all sounds good in theory; however, we find Naomi gives Ruth some peculiar advice on how to conduct herself with this kinsman redeemer.
Naomi said to Ruth, “Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”
“I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied.
Read that section again. In case it hasn’t hit you yet, Mama Naomi tells Ruth to get herself all dolled up to see Boaz. There is no waiting for Boaz to make the first move – Ruth had already been working on Boaz’s field for weeks! Time was running out! Why hadn’t he asked her out yet? Had she been friend-zoned? Did they need to have a DTR? Naomi essentially says, “Homegirl, go put your make-up on and make it happen.”
I’ll wait while you catch your breath for a second. A woman, making the first move? Women aren’t supposed to do that! The woman isn’t supposed to sent the first text, the woman isn’t supposed be the first to say hello, the woman isn’t supposed to ask the man out. That would break the rules!
And that’s why I love the story of Ruth. When you look at it this girl seemed to break every single dating and social rule in the book. Hear me ladies: Sometimes a man doesn’t pursue you not because he’s uninterested, but because he thinks you’re uninterested. Or maybe, like many guys, he’s just thick-headed and can’t see you through the dirt and grime of working in the sun all day. So take a shower, put on a dress, and let him know that you’re down for coffee.
Ruth got in Boaz’s way. Guys don’t always get it – so you’ve got to help them out a bit. Get in front of us. You don’t have to chase after a guy, just let him know you’re willing to be caught. Listen to Naomi’s advice – look nice. Smell nice. You get in his way, and who knows? Like Boaz responded to Ruth, “You wanna be with me? Really? Sold! Done! I’m in! Let’s do this!”