No Filter Needed

I’ll be honest that I’m attempting to feed two birds with one biscuit here: 1. I want to let my husband know how much I appreciate him, and 2. As Refresh approaches, I want to start shifting our focus toward relationships.

Undoubtedly the most challenging yet entertaining part of marriage for me is the unfiltered-ness. Tyler sees me every day. He’s witnessed every emotional reaction and overreaction to the point that he can tell sometimes before I can if I’m covering up my real feelings. He knows if I’m acting a part or if I’m being my genuine self to the fullest. The half-fulls and half-empties, he knows my unfiltered character.

We often start out relationships with at least a couple filters. Maybe someone puts on a toughness that, faded, exposes an extremely sensitive side; or maybe another person tries to cover up their unusual sense of humor with a straight face. Ask any couple (or close friends) who have been together for over three years it’s tiring to put on personality makeup every day! So if you’re wearing it, wipe it off. Personality is the new appeal.

Let’s talk about Ruth.

From the book of Ruth, we know 3 things about Ruth’s character:

  1. Ruth is loyal.

Naomi, Orpah, and Ruth are suddenly widowed in a time when widows have limited options: remarry ASAP (most likely within your people group) or hope family will care for you. Both choices involve going home. So, Naomi presses Orpah and Ruth, “Return home, my daughters. Why would you come with me? Am I going to have any more sons, who could become your husbands?” (Ruth 1:11).

By all practical standards, the best thing Ruth can do is go back to her original homeland, put on a little bit of makeup, and get on ChristianMingle.com. If she can just land some guy, any guy, she can start her family over in the comfort and safety of a sure home.

Ruth’s current circumstance is important to this story because I want you to understand that there is a quick way. There’s often a quick way to get what you want. There’s a quick way to make yourself more physically attractive. Ever used an Instagram filter? There are literally filters on Instagram that cover blemishes in seconds, that give your skin a little more glow, or make your eyes a little bigger.

There are also personality filters. For instance, there’s a laugh when you really don’t understand someone’s jokes but want them to think you have a sense of humor. There’s a smile to paste over an angry heart. Guys, if you didn’t know, you can get a lot of girls’ attention by holding a baby, even if you’re just briefly leasing it from a friend.

How quickly can you turn on a filter? How quickly can you change it if you decide you want a different one? You can turn it on or off in a second. It’s not natural, it doesn’t last, but it’s easy.

Back to Ruth, having to decide between what’s easy (making a Christian Farmers Only profile) or following Naomi. In 2:16, she decides, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.”

This is to-the-core, no-reward-in-sight, not-the-easy-way loyalty. This is Ruth’s unfiltered character.

  1. Ruth is a hard worker.

When Ruth and Naomi arrive in Bethlehem, Ruth immediately sets out looking for a way to provide for mother-in-law. There’s a field within walking distance, and it’s barley season, so she decides to glean grain behind the harvesters. She’s not harvesting barley right from the field like everyone else, by the way; she’s gathering leftover grain behind the people who already took the bulk. She’s doing the tedious work.

Enter Boaz. He sees Ruth gleaning behind his harvesters and asks his overseer who she is.

The overseer replied, ‘She is the Moabite who came back from Moab with Naomi. She said, “Please let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the harvesters.” She came into the field and has remained here from morning till now, except for a short rest in the shelter’” (2:6-7).

Notice that Ruth didn’t start gleaning with the goal of getting Boaz’s attention. Some people will work hard only when others are watching. That’s a filter. When they finally get the attention, the filter wilts; the loyalty, hard work, selflessness, maturity, empathy, humor whatever – eventually fades and leaves piles of barley grain where the smell of freshly baked bread used to be.

But Ruth isn’t gleaning for Boaz’s attention. She’s just doing the work in front of her, no filter.

  1. Ruth is humble.

At this point Boaz introduces himself. He’s heard of the loyalty, seen the hard work, and

At this, she bowed down with her face to the ground. She asked him, “Why have I found such favor in your eyes that you notice me—a foreigner?” (2:10). Remember, being a foreigner in this time was a disadvantage since individuals were valued highest within their people group. Ruth would not have expected any particular kindness from Boaz.

Humility doesn’t always look like bowing down at someone’s feet (although you could certainly try it out in your relationships and see what happens). Humility is forgoing pride and entitlement both of which are abstract, unproved characteristics and letting your actions speak your account.

The great thing about coming to people without a sense of entitlement is that it gives the other person a chance to recognize your work and reward it freely, without the sense of obligation.

Boaz answers, “I’ve been told all about what you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband—how you left your father and mother and your homeland and came to live with a people you did not know before” (2:11).

Ruth’s character precedes her. News of who she is and what she has done finds Boaz’s ear before he even meets Ruth. If you ever think that you can wait to develop good character until you start a relationship, just remember that you’ll be the only person who knows about your good character when that time comes. Do your family, friends, and other eyewitnesses up to this point in your life know you as a genuine and life-giving person? Would they agree that your history matches up with what you’re trying to convey to Mr. or Mrs. Right?

Ruth has no need to put on an impressive front because she was impressive before Boaz was watching.

Interesting fact! Fast-forward to the New Testament and you’ll see that Ruth’s unfiltered characteristics—loyalty, hard work, and humility—set her up for the relationship that puts her directly in the lineage of Jesus. What a reward for her genuine good character!

Now, to the story I know well. This is how I met Tyler.

Tyler and I talked very briefly at a 2012 Breakthrough concert. He immediately grabbed my attention when I noticed something outstanding about him: he was definitely the tallest person in the room.

Back then Tyler was what my brothers referred to as, a “skater punk.” Big Osiris-style shoes, dark band shirts, skinny jeans, big bracelets, and a tattoo. He even had an ear piercing! (That is, before my dad “offered” to rip it out). If you can’t imagine the look, don’t sweat it. I have compiled some beautiful photo evidence.

 

 

If If I had evaluated what I was “looking for” back then, his outer appearance probably wouldn’t have caught my eye. He had the I-don’t-need-friends kind of look.

My attraction to Tyler shifted in one night.

He had invited me to attend a going-away party for his youth pastor. Knowing that he liked my music, I accepted the invitation intending to minister friendship into his heart. When I showed up, however, I found that he already had a lot of friends, all rushing him with hugs and telling me about what an outstanding guy he was. He had fixed this person’s roof free of charge, brought that person to church, helped someone through depression, showed honor where it wasn’t earned, etc. etc.

Like Ruth’s loyalty preceded her (2:11), Tyler’s genuine compassion and hard work preceded him in his friends’ stories. I knew before I saw.

Then one day my mom and I are sitting at his house with his family and mom gets a call that sends her into the other room. A few minutes later she comes out crying, saying we have to leave because someone we know is in the hospital. Tyler doesn’t waste a second. He barely knows my mom at this point, but he is hugging her for a long time, letting her cry into his shoulder, telling her it’s going to be okay.

There aren’t a lot of these amazing moments because Tyler’s not the type to wait around for the camera to capture his good deeds. He just does those things unfiltered.

He didn’t suddenly become compassionate when I met him. I already knew from the accounts of his close friends and family that compassion was part of his genuine unfiltered character. And it hasn’t faded! He still helps hurting people. He still fixes  what roles he can when I’m overwhelmed. He is seriously designed by God for me, though I would never have known that through looks. His most attractive feature is his character, unfiltered. It’s who he is down to the core that hooked me in the first place and draws me closer every day.

In Tyler’s case, solid character flipped a light in my head, revealing just how attractive he had always been. Filters, off, this guy is and has always been a catch!

What does your personality say about your appeal? Who are you outside of your relationship? Because eventually, naturally, the filters disappears, and you’re left with whatever was under the blush.

What do you look like unfiltered?

I brought this message to the youth last week and asked them how we can identify filters in a potential friend or love interest. Our youth are incredibly intelligent, so take a moment to look at their answers and see if you can apply them to your own relationships!

How do you figure out if the other person is filtered or unfiltered?

  • Ask God to show you what they’re like behind the scenes.
  • Observe their personality in multiple settings. Do they act differently between elders and peers? Between family and friends? Between church and work or school?
  • Watch how they treat their parents and siblings.
  • Do they speak poorly about people behind their backs?
  • Interview their family members and close friends.
  • Watch how they act on a bad day.
  • Check their social media. What kinds of things do they post?
  • Spend enough time with them that any possible filters have had the opportunity to fade.