But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you.
Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.
Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
The implications of this action were so grand because Ruth essentially saved Naomi’s life by staying with her and promising to provide for her in her old age, but that also meant Ruth had to leave her own culture and people forever. Ruth pledged to provide Naomi with a new family and a means of prosperity while leaving comfort behind. Staying with Naomi, she would be in a place where she was considered an outsider, an immigrant in a foreign land. His verse, commonly quoted in the Pence family, holds the truth of how we navigate life and all it brings. It is our beacon. It has defined our vision, led us forward, and kept us from turning too frequently sideways or backward in the midst of struggle. It comes from the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament. In this story, Ruth is a young woman whose husband dies shortly after they wed. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, tells Ruth to leave, to have her own life, and not to come and live with her anymore, but Ruth won’t leave the elderly woman behind. What would have become of her? Ruth tells her that they are family, they are one unit now, and therefore wherever life takes Naomi, Ruth will follow. His verse, commonly quoted in the Pence family, holds the truth of how we navigate life and all it brings. It is our beacon. It has defined our vision, led us forward, and kept us
Tim Keller gives a sermon on this passage, in which he says, “[Ruth] suddenly realized, ‘If I obey God I may not have the life I expected, but I will have a better one. If I give up my definition of “good,” God will give me back—maybe not the “good life” I wanted—but the great life.’ ” In this ancient story, told in hindsight and passed down for generations, Ruth’s choice may appear easy because we know everything works out well for her. The truth is, we never know in the individual moments how our decisions will impact the future. We cannot be sure that if we follow what we believe to be God’s calling and plan for our life, things will be fine. In fact, we know the opposite is true, which makes these decisions all the more difficult. No matter your religious affiliation, I believe Ruth’s courage can be admired and emulated in all walks of life.
Like Ruth’s story, this book is also written in hindsight. It is a culmination of the months and years of after, with observations of during, and lessons from before. It attempts to provide a firsthand account from someone who witnessed the 2016 presidential campaign from the trail and how it impacted the Pences as a family— as my family. From an outside perspective, another vantage point than ours, it may seem as though everything fell together seamlessly or our movements were perfectly placed, as is the inevitable result of my retelling what we’ve already lived. But I would ask you, the reader, to remember this: The end result of anything is simply a combination of small decisions made along the way that are often overlooked or forgotten. The times in our lives when we can either remain where we’re comfortable or step out in faith toward the unknown, while difficult, can often be the most powerful and rewarding.
These stories share what happened to my family, who when faced with monumental decisions, went forth in faith and little else.
When thinking about a title for this book, I had a few in mind. They were all winks to my family members, inside nudges that I hoped would translate as a warm embrace in their hearts when they read them. But as I continued to think about what needed to be said about my family in this book, what creates the foundation for the stories I share with you and other readers, it was Ruth’s promise to Naomi.
It was essentially what we told one another when Dad became a candidate for vice president of the United States.
It was literally what I told my parents when it was finalized they would be traveling for several months on the campaign trail.
It was what I said, again, when we won the election and were transplanted back to Washington, D.C., where we had lived while Dad served in Congress.
It is what Mom says to Dad with every knowing glance. It is what he says back when he reaches out his hand.
It is what we say despite the arguments, the disagreements, the debates, and the struggles we have, along with every other family in the world.
It is what we do.
Where you go, I will go, too.
Charlotte Pence is the New York Times bestselling author of Marlon Bundo’s Day in the Life of the Vice President (Regnery Publishing, 2018). Her work has also been published in Glamour magazine and featured in US Weekly, among other major media outlets. A graduate of DePaul University with a BA in Digital Cinema Screenwriting and English, Charlotte contributed writing and production skills to the Emmy Award winning documentary, Fleeced (WFYI Productions).