This is part three of a series about Ruth and her late husband, Loren. As I wrote in part one, Loren had been my grandparent’s insurance agent; and they respected Loren so much that they convinced my mother to name me after him.
After reading part one of this series, Jerry, my “friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24) commented, “Loren, there’s something special about having a namesake”. You see, Jerry had been named after a close friend of his parents who Jerry greatly admired and respected. I explained to Jerry, “I agree, but you don’t understand. My namesake set the bar pretty high for me. I never fought in a war; I never owned a yellow convertible; I never had a pilot’s license and I never flew my plane over my girlfriend’s house and tipped my wings.”
When I shared the above conversation with Ruth and her daughter Becky, Ruth smiled and graciously suggested, “Loren would be proud that you were named after him.” I explained that I just have to be myself, nothing more and nothing less. I shared one of my favorite quotes by Oswald Chambers with Ruth and Becky, “Never make the mistake of trying to use your life as a template for someone else’s.” (“My Utmost for His Highest”) I explained, “I believe the converse is also true, ‘Don’t make the mistake of trying to use someone else’s life as a template for yours.’” Or in the words of the folksinger and song writer, John Prine, “…you are what you are and you ain’t what you ain’t.” (Song, “Dear Abby”)
Even though we cannot, and should not, try to pattern our lives after someone else’s, there are universal principles we can learn from others and strive to imitate. The writer of the Book of Hebrew’s wrote, “…imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. “ (Hebrews 6:12) And the Apostle Paul wrote, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11: 1)
There are many things about the character of Ruth and Loren that we all would be wise to imitate. Listen to the following testimonials about Ruth from her friends as recorded by Ruth’s son, Jeff, at Ruth’s ninety-first birthday party: “When we moved to Wheelersburg and came to Wheelersburg Methodist Church your mother was one of the first to welcome me there”; “She was the first person to greet me”; “She was one of the first to come to my home”; “I started out at church meeting your mom and your dad. They were always welcoming”; “She was my inspiration”; “She came calling on me“; “Ruth came to visit”; “They kept in touch”;” She was there for me”.
Did you pick up on the theme? Ruth reached out to others, her heart went out. Tammy, one of Ruth’s private duty caregivers told me, “I help Ruth call about five or six people every night so she can check on them.” Ruth even had Tammy call and check on me. Tammy called me at work a couple months ago and explained, “Ruth wanted me to call you. She’s been worried about you. You haven’t had a column in the paper for a couple weeks and she was worried that there might be something wrong with you.” That’s the first time in my twenty-four years as a hospice Social Worker that a patient has called because they were worried about me.
Ruth’s arms are still reaching; but what about me and you? Are our arms reaching; are our hands healing; are our feet going?”
“But if we are the body, why aren’t His arms reaching, why aren’t His hands healing, why aren’t His words teaching; and if we are the body, why aren’t His feet going, why is His love not showing them there is a way?” (Casting Crowns, if we are His body)
Loren Hardin is a hospice social worker at Southern Ohio Medical Center and can be reached at email@example.com or at 740-356-2525