Today, Ruth shares with us her inspiring free spirit, thoughts on grace, her journey as a writer and a life-changing moment the night of the Bataclan shooting. Thank you for your vulnerability, Ruth!
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: When I think of this question, I see and hear snippets of moments in my young life. Scrubbing chairs on the back deck in the spring afternoon sun in my knickers at age 3, dancing in my dad’s arms to Charley Pride’s “Mississippi Cotton Pickin’ Delta Town”, riding our bicycles without helmets on our long, winding neighbourhood street that ended in a cul de sac. I also remember my parents splitting when I was age 6, and my confusion mixed with excitement that we had a house close to my favourite beach in town, and…. a pool!
I grew up with a very free spirit, a lot of safety in my family, and people that took care of me. I also grew up with a mum who lived through a lot of trauma and had her own emotional difficulties which made our relationship difficult at times. She was wild and zany and fun and also at times very sad and moody. She also moved to Vanuatu in the South Pacific when I was 14, so I spent some time living with my dad, too. I played a lot of The Sims in that season of my life, haha!
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: I’m just heavy on starting Genesis over and over at the moment. When I struggle to have faith, or patience, of a belief in God’s power and ability and delight in setting His children ALL on a glorious path to fulfilment in Him and in relationship with one another, I just look to what His words can do. His words can create LIGHT. His words fashioned this world. His words brought forth LIFE. And, when it came to people in particular, He didn’t just speak them into existence. He bent down, intimately, and got messy in the mud. That’s as much an invitation as ever to help me get out of my own mess.
“And, when it came to people in particular, He didn’t just speak them into existence. He bent down, intimately, and got messy in the mud.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Releasing myself and others from expectations. I just have never seen or experienced God vocalising His expectations of me. While He delights in my journey to perfection, He wants perfection for me, not from me.
“While He delights in my journey to perfection, He wants perfection for me, not from me.”
Profession: I’m a writer, I guess! I mean, it’s what I’ve been doing professionally and what’s been winning me some serious bread for the last year. I also have my heart in counselling and mentoring. I have practiced counselling since 2017.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? 8:06pm. That’s the running title for my memoir, which I literally started writing last week! But it’s only because a very specific moment happened one night at 8:06pm that shifted my reality forever. I may have to think on this more. I actually like the idea of plain ol’ “Ruthie”, too. Something cheeky, fun and sweet about it. And that’s my general descriptors.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? I grew up in a church community. I say that with those words because I did have some active faith, but I wasn’t all in. I was skiing down the slopes of life with one foot on Jesus and the other on self, and self was quick to diverge when I was around 16.
A real, tangible encounter with God, with His voice, and with His call on my life, happened in 2015. I was scrolling through Facebook on my laptop (I know, so unusual these days), and saw a video of the shootings at the Bataclan, a music venue in Paris. I had lived in Paris prior to that, and was living in Leeds, in Northern England at the time. Something shook me. I began worrying about friends, and also starting to see/envision moments in my life where I knew the Bible (something I hadn’t opened in about 8 years) had pointed out the times we were now in. I then heard, in the silence afterwards, a strong, but loving voice ask me, “What are you doing here, Ruth?” At that moment, I groaned in the realisation that I was on the wrong path, and needed to hitch back on the Jesus ski, or I’d experience a chronic pain from the splits (metaphorically speaking).
How would you describe Jesus? Understanding. I think this is because at the deepest level of ourselves, we want to be understood. And He does.
How has your relationship with Him changed you? I’ve become more patient, and more accepting of things “not working out.” That’s a work in process though, I’m currently facing circumstances where there’s uncertainty, and I have a frust-rating (new term I coined… but it etymologically works, huzzah) of a solid 7/10.
I find that I can lean further in to conversations, and the emotional expression of others, without letting it shift me into a space of anxiety.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? My mother’s death was hard. I think the time leading up to it was harder. I felt assurance from God that even though she would not make it (He let me in on that reality moments after she was declared “clear” of cancer and in remission), He was working all things out for good. But she did not have that assurance. And it was the dynamic between her and I, as well as a lesson-filled relationship with my then partner, that caused strain on my brain (and heart) the most. But I just saw God saying, “Continue to praise me. I’m doing something you know not of.” I was told by Christian friends of hers that she said “alright” to giving Jesus a go 2 days before she died.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? This season now? I would have to say faithful, grace-filled community. My flaws are showing up in my relationships. I’m super aware of that. But for some reason, there are ears that hear and eyes that see my brokenness and their mouths respond “there’s grace in this space.” Our church community which meets from place to place is studying grace. Every week. Without ceasing. Because practically, we all need time and repetition to wrap our heads around the greatest gift ever.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): Ooooh I’m reading Digital Minimalism by a guy named Cal Newport. It’s full of practical wisdom on how to reduce your time on digital devices. It came at a time where I wanted to start writing my book (hello hours on end in front of a computer), but I cheated and bought a “Remarkable” which is an e-ink tablet for note taking and it is dream. No more square eyes!
I think what it’s most taught me is that I can easily get bored, and I need to appreciate the creative capacity that boredom affords me.
Top three essentials:
Access to the Word
How did God speak to you recently? Through a scattered sunrise that pushed defiantly through clouds and trees.
Hobby: Can writing be my profession and my hobby? Poetry, specifically. dabs
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Assumption is dangerous and clarity is kindness. Avoid the first, and seek the other; When people show their awkward ugly side, lean in. That’s what Jesus did; Pray before you go to sleep and ask God to protect your dreams. I cannot tell you how much time I’ve wasted ruminating the next day after weird, close-to-reality anxiety-building dreamscapes.
Favorite person in scripture? Solomon. He dropped some serious beats. But seriously, I’m so thankful that He did. His words challenge me daily.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That He is gentle and understanding.
How do you engage with your community? I have an online presence, which I dabble in when I’m not retreating from the digital space. My in-person community is pretty new! I just moved interstate and it’s a glorious opportunity to go deeper with new people, but I need to pace myself. So I show up where the people are, and create intentional pockets of time to stay in touch #introvertoverwhelm
Favorite holiday? New Years Day because while a majority of the population are mad hungover, I’m getting the first swim in of the year and no one can get in my way.
A goal you have? To finish writing a book by the end of this year. And see it physically published and on the shelf at my Granny’s place.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: This one’s hard, because my family is so scattered, and we’ve had some serious losses. But between my granny and I, I visit her and beeline for her pantry where I find snacks and eat them in front of her so that she knows she’s still useful in my life.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? It’s more of a request than a question: point me to the dogs.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: Grace! Grace grace grace grace grace. The importance of offering it, communicating it, and receiving it. This world seems devoid of grace these days, without realising it is central to life.
What does your morning routine consist of? Internal chaos met with an “oh yeah, God can deal with that.”
Haha. In actuality, I open up my notebook and write three pages of whatever comes to my head – joys, frustrations, distractions. Just getting it all out. Then, if the weather allows (it always allows, but it’s sometimes my mindset that doesn’t), a morning walk where I spent the first half talking to God, and the second half walking in silence to hear Him.
What is on your nightstand? A box with the word “patience” embossed on it that used to belong to my grandfather. It’s empty, because I enjoy irony.
Define Christianity in a sentence: The muddy mess out of which a beautiful body in His image is formed.
For more Ruth:
Until next time, keep witnessing!