Updated: Sep 10, 2020
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful city in a faraway land called JayTowne. Though situated in the middle of an intensely hot and dry climate, it was a fertile, spring-fed oasis; thick with palm trees and the best of everything the lands had to offer. JayTowne’s beauty and abundance made it a favorite vacation destination for the rich and famous and for people of means.
Among the many enticements the city offered, was its high-level of security and low-level of moral limitations… virtually anything was available for the right amount of money and discretion. Just steps inside the walls of this great metropolis, visitors could find sophisticated lodging and companionship for the night.
Ahem . . . OK- let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? The fact was that a person could find lodging for the night and with it the chance to hook up with a harlot in accomodations literally built into the walls of JayTowne. Think “brothel-meets-Holiday-Inn.”
In one such establishment, a woman, named Rae served as the “innkeeper.” But that title only served as a cover for her real job and consequently what she believed was her true value to her customers… Rae was a prostitute.
We don’t know how long Rae had lived this way, believing a false narrative and keeping secrets. It’s not clear what brought her to such a place or what kind of people were within her inner circle. But we do know that apparently, she had an ongoing relationship with her family, and they were important to her.
Because of my history with false narratives, I can’t help but wonder what sort of things happened in Rae’s life that contributed to her finding herself in this role. What sort of beliefs and values were handed down to her that would prevent her and her family from seeing that Rae was worthy of so much more?
While I don’t know the absolute answers to any of that, I do know that given the location of Rae’s “business” in the wall of JayTowne, she was among the first to see and hear all the goings-on in the city. And despite the high security those tall, thick walls offered; the city was more vulnerable than it realized.
A Decision to Make a Change
One day, Rae found herself face to face with some spies who were casing the city in preparation for a sort of coup. Much to her surprise, they weren’t “evil” spies. In fact, they were good guys- better than the guy presently ruling JayTowne, anyway.
She had already heard tales of the spies’ Commander and knew that he was a much more benevolent and compassionate leader than the man whose oppressive rule she was trapped beneath. Not to mention, infinitely more powerful. As she listened to the spies’ leader, a man named Josh, share the plot to overthrow the city, something began to tug at her heart.
Was it hope?
“I can help you with your plan”, she said. “But I would like a place with you and protection during the takeover. Protection for my family too, deal?”
“Deal!” The spies’ decreed.
And so it was. She helped them. JayTowne was overthrown. Josh kept the promise.
Leave Home to Find Home
It took a while for Rae to acclimate in her new home with her new people. Little by little, she began to trust her new surroundings, and those within them. The more she learned about the Ruler of these people (now her people) the more of her old life she felt falling away. She began to see herself in a new light. She found her place. It turns out, Rae had to leave home to find home.*
Eventually, Josh (having such brotherly affection for Rae, and her brave act in helping them) introduced her to his friend, Sal. He knew Rae had had a rough life in a tough family, and he thought his pal- loving, tender Sal, was just who Rae needed in her life. And he was right!
Sal and Rae were married, and in time welcomed a baby boy, whom they named Bo, to their family. As Bo grew, there was no talk of brothels and prostitutes, no talk of degrading women or treating them as something to be possessed. Instead there was the intense love of his mother and father, and of the gracious Leader who governed them all. Bo learned the value of women, of kindness and compassion. A generational pattern was broken.
Bo became a remarkably successful real estate tycoon, sans all the negative clichés one might conjure at the mention of “real estate tycoon”. In fact, most of his real estate was covered in crops- not condos. And, because he too followed the teachings of his people’s benevolent Ruler, Bo was known as a kind and generous man by those who worked for him and with him.
So, it came as no surprise that when a beautiful- homeless, out of work widow, trying to fend for herself and her mother-in-law, Mara, was caught grabbing produce that fell from their harvest trucks, he showed her great kindness instead of harshness. He offered her food from his crops and a place in his fields if she wanted it.
Bo also made certain to tell his crew, comprised of a few of the “rough types”, that they better not even think of laying a hand on this, this…
“What is her name?” he asked.
“Uh, I think its Ruthie, Sir”, a crewman replied.
“Right, Ruthie. No one lays a hand on Ruthie. Or stops her or shames her for taking what she needs. And she’s welcome to grab a drink or a bite to eat from the lunch truck. Got it?”
“YES, Sir!” Came the collective response.
Eventually, Ruthie heard about Bo’s kindness and risked everything to approach him and express her gratitude. But on the night she mustered the courage to visit him, a night when the rest of the harvest crew were kicking up their heels in the barn, Bo happened to have had a few too many brews and fell asleep going over the books at the silos; a giant pile of cash by his side.
The silos were a dark and uncertain place at night. No place for someone like Ruthie. But seeing Bo’s condition, she stayed to make sure no one came and helped themselves to a “bonus”.
When he woke, he found Ruthie asleep next to him. Apparently, she too had fallen asleep. And as the fog from the night before faded, Bo realized what had happened. He realized that Ruthie could’ve gone off with the younger guys and had a real party at his expense. But instead, she chose to stay with him and risk her safety- and his rejection.
Generational Beliefs and Behaviors Shifted
The compassion that had been instilled in him from birth; the ability to see value in a woman- taught to him by a mother who learned about her own worth as the result of being loved well, all culminated in Bo’s response to Ruthie. A response that reflected the generational beliefs and behaviors that had shifted. (No remnants of “JayTowne” remained.)
Bo’s loving and respectful response to Ruthie led to their marriage, and in time, they welcomed a son. And that son welcomed a son, and that son welcomed a son who would become a king… a king whose lineage would lead to the King of Kings.
Yep. The story I’ve just taken poetic license with is the story of those in the lineage of Jesus. And to get to Him, we had to get through some unhealthy generational patterns. In the real story, the story that begins with Rahab, on her way to becoming the great-grandmother of King David (and consequently, in the family line of Jesus) Rahab underwent a tremendous amount of change. It is likely that in her new surroundings (post “JayTowne”), as a part of God’s people, she had the opportunity for many emotionally corrective experiences, each healing the wounds of the past. She learned to live a life of compassion and grace, and most assuredly, one of forgiveness.
If not for Rahab’s choice to do something different -- to be something different-- the beliefs and behaviors that lead her to the life she lived in Jericho (JayTowne) would have literally ended her life. And the lives of her entire family. She didn’t know it at the time, but her choice to do something different set off a ripple effect that is felt even today.
Now that’s some serious generational freedom!
What about you? Maybe your situation isn’t as dire as Rae’s. But are there things in your life that are oppressing you? Are there beliefs and behaviors you feel trapped in? That seem to be the same beliefs and behaviors you saw in your parents and perhaps even your parents’ parents?
Like Rae, you can make a different choice. It starts with just one choice. It may take time from there, but change is possible. Like Rae, you might need to leave home to find home. But first, you may need to realize that it’s the home of the generations before you that you’ve been carrying inside of you all along that needs to be left behind once and for all.
Special thanks to my sister-friend, Chrissy Stergos, who said “You should write about this!” And mused about the idea along with me…even though at first, I dismissed it. (smh)
You can read the real-life story of Rahab, Boaz and Ruth in the books of Joshua and Ruth. *“Sometimes you have to leave home to find home.” Is a quote from Franciscan friar, Richard Rohr.