Complicated Love

I’ve got a thing for love.  I love love. And love, the love that is real, typically seems to be complicated.

If you ask me what book I’d want if I could only ever have one book for the rest of my life?  It would probably be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. If I could only watch one movie for the rest of my life? You’ve Got Mail.  Both of these speak to my heart in a way that not much else does.

Complicated love isn’t anything new.  You can even read about it in the Bible:

  • Jacob’s love for Rachel is so strong that he works seven years to be her husband, only to be lied to and given her sister. He then works another seven years to finally be with the woman his heart desires.
  • Tamar’s love for her dead husband is so strong that she wishes to follow the tradition of the land by marrying his next of kin in order for the dead husband to have an heir. Lots of trouble ensues, and she dresses like a whore and sleeps with his father to make it happen.
  • The love between brothers is seen in Jacob and Esau after betrayal and years apart.

There are so many examples in scripture, in Hollywood, and in the everyday that showcases complicated love.  Love can be between romantic partners, siblings, friends or even to strangers.

One of my favorite examples of complicated love in the Bible is that of the story of Ruth, and her mother-in-law Naomi. Famine has hit the Middle East, and Naomi along with her husband and two sons have left Israel to go to Moab, historically an enemy to Israel.  There the husband dies and her sons marry Moabite women.  Shortly after, they too die right before the land of Israel has begun to flourish again. Naomi tells her daughters-in-law to leave her, to go back to their families for she has nothing for them.  She wishes them well, to find kind husbands and to be fruitful.

This is where Ruth comes in and gives one of the most powerful love statements (in my opinion) in the entire Bible: “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”

Ruth became a part of Naomi’s family, and fell in love with her mother-in-law.  This is assumed, as she is so passionately loyal to Naomi.  She has the chance to go home, start over, and find an easy way to happiness.  But in her moment of mourning her dead husband and her brother-in-law, she looks at Naomi and sees family.  She loves her mother-in-law so passionately that she would rather face hardship (being a woman without a man in those days could mean severe poverty, possibly rape without a protector, etc.) just to stay with a woman who has become her mother.

Ruth and Naomi go back to Israel, and to make a short story (it’s only 4 chapters long) even shorter – she finds her guardian-redeemer (the closest relative to her dead husband) who isn’t just attracted to her beauty but also her love and loyalty to her mother-in-law. He called her a “woman of noble character.” They marry and they have a son, who is given to Naomi to become her son in place of the sons she has lost.  Ruth and her guardian-redeemer, Boaz, become the grandparents of King David. Through loyalty and love, Ruth found happiness and was greatly rewarded for all time.

Love is fun and beautiful, but complicated.  You’ll never find a love where everything “just fits.” There will always be times of hardship, but also times of great reward.  There will be times of sadness, confusion, and hurt.  But true love will always last and will hold you up so that you don’t drown when you’re in high waters.

(Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash)

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