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  • Sabrina Patterson


PLYMOUTH – When my granddaughters were younger, they spent a lot of time with us in our home. It seemed we were always driving somewhere, so I would take those prime opportunities and teachable moments to talk with them about what was going on in their young lives.

On one occasion, Sarah had shared some things that had happened with one of her friends that had her concerned. Thinking she was ready to talk about those concerns or maybe some other concern, I started what I assumed was a rather deep conversation with Sarah as I asked her, “What is something you are worried about?” She didn’t take two seconds to respond, and promptly responded with, “I’m worried about what my husband will look like when I grow up.” I had to suppress a giggle, but thought, if we were all honest, we at one time or another, wondered that same thing.


When I met my future husband, Tim, I wasn’t concerned with his looks because he was quite handsome, but my whole world did center around him as I searched for the answers I was looking for in a husband. Were we compatible? Did he love Jesus and follow Him as much or more than I did? Is he compassionate and sensitive to my needs? Would he treat me the way my father treated my mother and so on.

But the one thing I never even considered was that I was not only getting a husband, but I was getting a mother-in-law as well. It wasn’t even an option!


Every one of us who is married or has married children, know what it is like to be a mother-in-Law. It is for that reason that I wanted to take this Mother’s Day article in a different direction this year, as I reflected on my “other” mother as well as being the “other” mother in my own daughters-in-law’s lives.


God has shared with us one of the most famous mothers-in-law in His Word. Naomi, from the book of Ruth, is a biblical example of what a special blessing it is to be a mother-in-Law. We are not privileged with a look at how Naomi cared for her own sons, but we do have the privilege of having God’s Word paint a beautiful picture of Naomi’s qualities of kindness and care for others, and her sacrifice as a mother-in-law. We also see that she was a perfect example to others of faithfully and sacrificially following her husband, Elimelech, to a foreign country during a difficult time in her own homeland.


How many of us would willingly leave our families, our customs, our language, our food preferences… all that we knew and take our children to travel to a foreign country? That was the sacrifice this wife and mother made. It was this same attitude towards loving and following her husband that was passed on to her daughters-in-law as we see Ruth live that out in following Naomi to a foreign land herself. Naomi’s encouragement to her widowed daughters-in-law to stay in their homeland while she returned to her home by herself, was a selfless act. She was all alone and without her husband or sons, but still encouraged her daughters-in-law to remain behind.


Ruth 1:8-9 Naomi told them to “go back, each of you, to your mother’s home. May the Lord show you kindness, as you have shown kindness to your dead husbands and to me. May the Lord grant that each of you will find rest in the home of another husband.”


Because Naomi was an exemplary mother-in-law, one of her daughters-in-law, Ruth, refused to leave her. The two of them formed a deep relationship that took on the form that one only sees in a mother/daughter relationship. Naomi became an excellent example of faithfulness and was a source of strength and advice for Ruth that was much needed as she faced a new life in a foreign country without any man to provide for her. Even during Naomi’s suffering and loneliness as the result of her own severe loss, she thought about Ruth’s well-being and made it her mission to find Ruth a new husband.


So, on this day of giving honor to our mothers, I wanted to bring to your mind a different kind of mother. Naomi offers us a wonderful lesson when it comes to self-sacrifice and compassion for others.

She gives us a lens through which we may see beyond our myopic perspective. From her point of view, we are given the privilege of being able to focus on the goodness, care and comfort of our loved ones, understanding how precious a gift they are from God, though they may not be birthed from our bodies.


I want to encourage mothers-in-Law to love your daughters-in-law (and sons-in-law) well.  Choose to love them as much as you would love your own children.


I also admonish daughters-in-law and sons-in-law to have a heart that is grateful for the God-given gift of your mother-in-Law. I know from experience, even if they don’t walk with Jesus, your spouse’s mother has many life lessons she can extend to you, resulting in a better life for you and your family. It’s your choice to look for them.


Naomi’s life was guided by faithfulness toward God and because of that faithfulness and in spite of all her losses, she found the true joy of being loved once again, not by a man, but by the daughter with which God had blessed her with. May your faithfulness and love for your Heavenly Father fill your heart with that kind of love for your mother-in-law.



Sabrina is the wife of Tim Patterson, Executive Director of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. My greatest accomplishment is being the mother of my two sons, Micah and Aaron, and the Mother-in-law to my two daughters-in-law and the proud Grammie/GeeGee to my five grandgirls. My heart's desire in ministry is to see women of all ages fall in love with spending time with God and His Word.


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