Who do you associate yourself with?I met an old acquaintance, rather we bumped into each other. As customary, we exchanged a couple of pleasantries before having some *old times” rewinds.But as our conversation escalated, I noticed that she struggled with my spiritual growth. My growth was suddenly intimidating and the conversation slowly degenerated into comparison and critiquing.
I really asked for God’s grace and kept nodding until I had a chance to speak. God had to remind me of Colossians 4:6 “Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.”
See, Ruth the Moabitess was new to Bethlehem. She wasn’t used to the way they did things, but she pushed herself out to learn by association with Naomi.
She began by gleaning behind those who were reaping. You would be surprised how much you can pick up about anything just by listening. Like Ruth, you can glean behind those who are more advanced and work your way up. If you want to elevate yourself, associate with those who have matriculated into the areas you aspire to, and catch what they drop until you have caught up with what they have.
You will find that there are little nuggets that can be picked up quite easily if you care to stick around. Ruth stayed close to an older woman named Naomi, who knew the ropes. It is important to associate with people who know the ropes.
If you “stay in your league,” you will lose every game. Naomi was different. She was a different nationality, she was a different age, and at a different stage of maturity. I imagine there were times when Ruth said silly things in comparison with this older woman’s ideas and wisdom.
There were no doubt times when they didn’t relate to each other. But differences and distinctions were put here by God to destroy boredom and bring forth growth.
Naomi was the perfect person to usher Ruth into a deeper stage of life. But this my point, what made Naomi particularly attractive was the fact that she understood both where Ruth had been and also where she was currently.
I believe that one of the most difficult relationships to find is the relationship in which the other person can appreciate and respect both where you have been and where you are now. Those persons who understand your past are essential because, try all we want to avoid it, we are largely a product of our past. It shapes many of our likes and dislikes, eccentricities and peculiarities.
In short, it has all the world to do with how you react now. But having someone who “knew you when” is not enough, as many lack the dexterity to relate to where you are now.
Most people “knew you when,” but they often have a tendency to anchor you to their previous knowledge of you and thereby stifle your growth. If they themselves haven’t progressed, your development is often seen as betrayal, and they resent you.
Only a very secure minority has the capacity to grow with you. If they haven’t kept up with you, they will inevitably try to drag you back to their last impression of you. Then there are those people who know where you are now but do not know where you came from, and therefore can’t always be objective in their current appreciation of your struggle and process, values and fears.
No one can appreciate the enormity of your success if they haven’t seen the ferocity of your struggle. It is like walking into the theater in the middle of the play where you keep asking, “What does he mean by that?” or “Why is she so upset about that?” You have missed a major portion of the setup, and hence you do not fully appreciate the present. Naomi could both appreciate the past and recognize the present.
If Ruth had tried to assimilate to her new environment without the benefit of someone who knew both her past and present, it would have been much harder.
Naomi was a sighted woman leading a blind woman through the maze of a new experience. Naomi was Ruth’s eyes into a world that she didn’t know. She was her tutor, her mentor, and her guide in avoiding foolish mistakes.
I simply want to be like Naomi. That I can pass on the mantle to the next person without feeling insecure. But to do that, you have to appreciate growth and give credit where it’s due.We all have our learning curves, the question is, who do you associate yourself with?