When are you leaving Moab?

When are you leaving Moab?

The book, (Deal with it: You cannot conquer what you cannot confront) by Paula White, has really inspired me in many different ways as a woman in general and as someone who is interested in gender issues.  In this book, Paula writes about experiences that some women in the Bible went through in their lives. Her interpretation of these stories is thought-provoking and raises relevant issues concerning our daily lives.

The story of Ruth is a well known story and widely read among those people who take time to read the Bible.
Paula recounts the story of Ruth who was born and raised as a Moabite woman — that is, she was born in Moab. Paula takes us back a little bit about the origins of the tribe of Moab.
She talks about Lot, the cousin of Abraham who fled from Sodom with his wife and two daughters. Due to some unknown reasons Lot’s wife turned to look back at Sodom as they were on their way out (an action that was forbidden), and immediately she was reduced to a small hill of salt.

So, Lot proceeded with his two daughters to hide in a mountain. Some kind of fear and uncertainty about the future, overpowered these two girls that they were tempted to make their father drunk and they slept with him and both of them became pregnant.
One of the girls had a son whom she named Moab.

Paula tells us in her book that the tribe of Moab was cursed because of the manner in which it was created.
We can now have some idea of the world that Ruth grew up in. Furthermore, Paula indicates that the Moabites worshipped idols and they had a system of giving up their children to one of the gods — Chemosh as a sacrifice.

For those who know the ending of the life of Ruth, we can rightly say that she was a blessed woman in spite of the unsecure life that she lived.
It so happened to pass that a man called Elimelech and his wife Naomi left Bethlehem to enter Moab because there was famine in their country.
Ruth married one of Elimelech’s sons Chilion and Orpah married the other son. In the years that followed, the three men in this family (father and two sons) passed away and Naomi was left with her two daughters-in-law and she decided to go back to her home country-Bethlehem.

Paula emphasized that, although she pleaded with the two women to remain in Moab their home which was familiar to them, only Orpah agreed to stay, but Ruth made a hard decision.
She decided to leave behind the country that was familiar to her and follow Naomi to an unknown place which had different customs and practices.
Ruth declared to Naomi saying, “Your people shall be my people, your God shall be my God”, stated Paula about Ruth.
In life, at times we come to a point where we need to make such hard decisions where we declare to take the unknown route and leave the one that has been used by many people before.

Of course, the new is always unfamiliar, uncomfortable and at times, dangerous. OSHO, the philosopher points out that these uncertainties make us courageous and we grow in them.
We also read in McKenna, in his book, I can make you rich, that if you keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep on getting what you are getting.
Ruth decided to do things in a different a way and her starting point was to leave Moab behind and follow Naomi to Bethlehem.

I am not in a position to know which things, situations or even people in your life that you may consider the Moab — the past and you want to move on.
In her own words Paula says of Ruth that “In the light of her past and the events of her present, there was something great about Ruth.
She rose above her past. She had an ability to look at her past and present and say, “I want no more of this. I want something different and better”.
What we are seeing here is that Ruth had the opportunity to experience her past which had nothing interesting to her life. She made a deliberate effort to scrutinize her past and she saw that there was nothing left in that life that had any significant value to her. Therefore, she made a choice.

We can safely say that there are millions of people who are where Ruth was at that moment; leaving Moab behind and facing Bethlehem.
Each of them has a past which they wish to leave and forget. They have already experienced the past and those experiences were not enjoyable, they were painful and they brought them nothing but misery.

The question now is: Are you still in Moab or you are on your way to Bethlehem? The burning truth is that we do not know what is in Bethlehem for real but at least we know that life in Moab was bad and had bad experiences.

However, we can be excited about the unknown when we can compare it to the past that we know and remembering that we cannot receive the future with open hands if we keep looking back to the past.  We must let it go. It is a well known fact that this is easier said than done. In our own way of thinking, we often want to hold on to our past because it is familiar and a comfortable zone — sometimes a sense of security is there too — even if it’s bad security.
It reminds me of one woman who was crying after being beaten by her husband. She said, “He has beaten me, harassed me, neglected me, verbally abused me, insulted me, but I want to stay and see what else he is going to do”

. As if there was anything left to happen to her, if not worse things. If you are not happy with your situation, make a decision to change it.

l Thandiwe Rwodzi is a lecturer, researcher, teacher, writer, consultant and gender analyst. rwodzithandy@gmail.com

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