Today, Elizabeth speaks to us about seeing old stories through new eyes, the idolatry of marriage, and Jesus being bigger than religion.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in a place called Chesterfield, which is on the edge of the lovely Peak District. I am so thankful to have been born into a safe and loving family, surrounded by inspiring siblings on either side – I’m your typical attention-seeking middle child! My childhood naturally wasn’t without its challenges, but I count myself very fortunate for the encouragement and stability I received growing up. I really did feel I could do anything I set my mind to.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I’ve randomly been reading Exodus lately and am enjoying reading about the life of Moses – so often told in Sunday school stories – through adult eyes. I never used to get why God ‘hardened Pharaoh’s heart’ if he wanted ‘his people’ to be let go and able to leave Egypt, but I’ve started to see that sometimes God lets things happen in order to lead people into a deeper knowledge of who He is: ‘Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials, that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them and that you may tell your children and grandchildren…so that all of you may know that I am the Lord.”’
“I’ve started to see that sometimes God lets things happen in order to lead people into a deeper knowledge of who He is”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Not being so distracted all the time – very hard being a busy, digitally-hooked millennial.
Profession: Commissioning editor for a non-fiction publishing house and a commercial fiction writer.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Maybe ‘His Grace Will Follow’ as I have three best friends called Grace who have all come into my life at different times and represent significant turning points in my story.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? When I was a child, for sure, but also again in my final year of university. I felt the peace of God and had some lyrics circling around my mind and the young woman praying for me randomly said: ‘I don’t usually get words in my head but I feel like God is saying…’ and spoke the same lyrics I had in my head out loud.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? In so many ways. It has changed my focus and my perspective – but like any relationship, it changes over time and you have to keep working at it.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Recognising God in everything not just things we deem ‘spiritual’ and learning more about God’s grace for us and just receiving His goodness rather than working for it.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Reading Over The Top by Jonathan van Ness, and it’s teaching me a lot about self-love and identity but also pointing to the fact that self-love is not enough, we need God’s love too!
Top three essentials: Phone, coffee, fresh air!
How did God speak to you recently? I can always depend on meeting God in his Word when the world feels a bit wobbly.
Hobby: Drawing and painting.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Friendships where you can be real, prayer and silence (we surround ourselves with so much noise it’s hard for God to get a word in edgeways sometimes).
Favourite person in scripture? Jesus, obviously. But also Esther for her pragmatism, the disciples for being flawed (thank God), Moses for all his excuses and Anna for her humility and faithfulness.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That you don’t need to be perfect. That Jesus is bigger than religion.
“Jesus is bigger than religion.”
How do you engage with your community? Honest conversations, always.
“Honest conversations, always.”
Favorite holiday? I love skiing holidays and times with friends, but give me a beach and a book any day.
A goal you have? Use social media less! And I’m currently launching a new brand for the publishing house I work for, which is an exciting new challenge and bringing out three novels this year.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: We all still go into my parents’ bedroom on Christmas morning!
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? Why did I worry so much?
Thing you want to raise awareness about: The idolatry of marriage in the Church and how it makes young women feel like they are doing something wrong if they don’t have a partner. Also, how often we can feel the need to be one version of ourselves in Church and another version outside of Church, I really want to bridge the gap between Church and secular culture as there’s so much we can teach each other – and ultimately there’s no ‘spiritual-secular’ divide in Christ anyway.
What does your morning routine consist of? It depends what meetings I have that day and whether I’m working from home or not, but usually some fresh air and exercise and a good bit of dancing in the mirror to music.
What is on your nightstand? Currently, a big stack of books – including a proof copy of my first novel, notebooks, a copy of Cosmopolitan and my Bible.
Define Christianity in a sentence: A real and dynamic relationship free from rules and religion.
For more Elizabeth:
Until next time, keep witnessing!