Thursday, May 3, 1917 – Discretion
“Actions are like tools,” Grandpa used to say. “Necessary to be productive, but each is only useful for a specific occasion. Don't take your paintbrush when you go to build a house, and keep your hammer home when working on glass.” If only life was that easy.
May placed her pen back on her desk for a moment while she took a sip from her cup. Still steaming, the chamomile tea was brewed strong, the bold, relaxing flavor just how she liked it. The hot liquid warmed her throat as it went down. Contentedly she smiled as she placed the cup next to the kerosene lamp that lit her bedroom. Though it was small, May was happy to have a room in the boardinghouse to herself. She liked the other young women that lived there as well as Mr. and Mrs. Branson, the estate owners, but solitude is often priceless.
“Pray with your door closed and your heart open,” May's grandfather had said. “God doesn't call you to pray to see you do it with half of your attention. If you want His, give Him yours.”
Ironically, thinking about focus made May's mind wander. She thought of the church service the night before. It had been mostly uneventful. A successful attempt at a casual conversation with Richie had been trumped by another girl's interjection. Just as May was enjoying herself, just as she thought she would have a chance to get to know him, it was ended. Of course, there would always be another service on Sunday. This seemed to be her constant consolation every week.
When do you know when being passive is negative? They say women are to be harmless as doves, but when are we to be wise as serpents?
“Women aren't supposed to pursue,” May had overheard Mr. Branson say. “They're supposed to be pursued upon!”
His wife just shook her head when he would say such things. “You don't believe that.”
“Of course I do!” he retorted.
“Mr. Branson, you know full well that I pursued you all the way to the altar and back.”
“Only because I pursued you first.”
“Say, I seem to remember a little blonde-headed girl that used to always get your attention before we started courting.”
“It was a mutual pursuit, see? How about we leave it at that and spare the young girls' ears?”
May laughed to herself. The Bransons often reminded her of her grandparents, especially in their quarrels. She smiled sadly. She missed her grandparents dearly.
I guess this isn't just a question for myself as a woman. As Christians, we are all called to be meek and gentle, to put others before ourselves. But when is a pursuit worth enough to permit the pursuing? Do I sit by meekly and risk watching the thing I want pass me by, or take a chance and risk unfairly appearing forward and selfish?
May sat back in her chair and pondered. Stretching, she yawned. She had had a long day teaching, and she knew she should retire soon if she expected to have the energy to deal with the children tomorrow. She smiled as she thought on one of the lessons earlier that day.
Standing in front of the class, May held her Bible in her hand and read from Ruth: “And when Boaz had eaten and drunk, and his heart was merry, he went to lie down at the end of the heap of corn: and she came softly, and uncovered his feet, and laid her down.”
One of the boys' hand shot up. “Why?”
“Why what?” May asked.
“Why'd she do that? Why did she uncover his feet?”
May stopped, realizing she had to think about it for a moment. “She was obeying what Naomi told her to do. By uncovering his feet, she was asking him to marry her. She was trying to tell him that she loved him.”
This answer was only returned by an expression of even greater confusion. Sighing in defeat, the boy replied, “I guess girls are just too weird to understand.”
May stared into the blackness, letting her thoughts float to the surface of her conscience. As the lantern's flame flickered, she picked up her pen again and wrote.
Ruth understood this balance of meek patience and active pursuit. She was not content to sit at home and do nothing, yet only acted when directed. I wonder if she ever worried how others would perceive her actions, if they would condemn this Gentile for her presumption. Apparently if she did, she didn't let that keep her from doing what was right.
Lord, teach me the discretion of Ruth. Let me understand the times I should refrain and the times I should act. When I refrain, let me be busy in Your work, and when I act, let me rest in Your timing.
And Lord? If You could teach Richie this too, it sure would help me.