Why the tension?

Ernest Onuoha


They are never in competition, yet, tension sometimes brews. Such a tension as is usually found in some relationship between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law. Because of such atmosphere, they can hardly agree. But should it be so? However, in today’s meditation, we have a good classical example of a reversal between Naomi and Ruth. They deserve our commendation and attention.

Ruth was a Moabite, but that did not stop her from worshipping the true God, nor did it stop God from accepting her worship and blessing her greatly. The Jews were not the only people God loved. But He chose them to be the people through whom the rest of the world would come to know Him. This was fulfilled when Jesus was born as a Jew and through Him, the entire world came to know God. Acts 10:35 says “in every nation, He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right irrespective of their race, sex, or nationality”.

The book of Ruth is a perfect example of God’s impartiality. Although Ruth belonged to a race often despised by Israel, she was blessed because of her faithfulness. She became the great-grandmother of King David and a direct ancestor of Jesus. No one should feel disqualified to serve God because of race, sex, or national background. And God can use every circumstance to build His kingdom. The case of this young Moabites woman is highly illustrative.

Interestingly, Naomi was a good mother-in-law and very accommodating, too. The atmosphere she created around her made it very easy for young Ruth to get along with her very well. Even though she was a widow at the time, she still treated Ruth like one of her daughters. Her attitude to Ruth was very infectious and this in turn, made Ruth not only to wholeheartedly accept her, but her people and her religion too. What a good way of living together.

But what do we see today in relationship existing between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law? Sometimes, some live as cats and dogs to the extent that bad blood would be witnessed in their interactions. I know that God did not intend it that way and that is why the story of Naomi and Ruth should be a great lesson to all families.

However, I recall that at a point during wedding services, particularly in the Anglican Church, the priest will request the mother-in-law to step forward and in the presence of congregation say to her among other things: “we hand over to you now Mrs. (daughter-in-law) as a full member of your family”. Of course, mothers-in-law joyfully accept and embrace the new member to their family. One then wonders what goes wrong shortly after such atmosphere of friendliness. I know somebody will blame the devil, but the truth is that we should make room to accommodate others, particularly a mother- in-law and her daughter-in-law.

We have nothing to lose either as a mother-in-law or daughter-in-law, provided we play our individual cards well.

Therefore, I recommend from my heart that this perfect relationship of Naomi and Ruth be a model for all couples and intending couples. Yes, there is no need for tension. Cheers!

Ven. Ernest Onuoha
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

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