This interview spotlight is for all women who are seeking to inspire and motivate other women to pursue their passion. We want to hear real stories from people we can relate to and learn from. Hope you will be inspired, encouraged and motivated by what they will be sharing. This week we caught up with Ruth Hodge.
Hie Ruth, Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m an Aussie lass with a propensity for avoiding answering the actual question. I’m a little scatter-brained but I’m told its in a good, zany, vivacious kind of way. I like to keep people on their toes, and not by way of releasing a box full of rodents and insects on the floor. I also have an… imaginative sense of humour. I can’t sew, but I make a mean tabouleh.
How did you come to know Jesus Christ and can you briefly share your Christian Journey with us?
My parents were baptised into the Seventh Day Adventist church before I was born (my middle name is Ellen, and we can all guess who inspired that one…). My parents divorced when I was six, and my mum left the church around the same time – so I grew up in a mixed kind of understanding of God, of my responsibility to my fellow Christians and humans. Despite deciding to get baptised at age 12, I left the church after my dad remarried four years later. It was an awkward time and I’d rather not go into it except for mentioning that there is a lot of healing going on in our not-so-nuclear, to God be the glory! Eight years later, God decided one night to say “Ruth, I’d really like you back now.” I was so mad at Him – devastated, and yet He just cradled me that night and promised me that I’d get through the change that was ahead. I’m back with a lot of stories to tell, a lot of healing to do and a lot of God’s love to be able to share with others. I’m looking forward to getting re-baptised and just dedicating my all to Him.
What is your significant life bible verse?
I’m a bit of a shocker when it comes to waking up in the morning and not thinking to myself “what should I worry about first?” so for me Psalm 143:8 hits the mark: “Let the morning bring word of your unfailing love – for I have put my trust in you.”
What have been some of your joys and greatest challenges as a young christian woman living in this generation?
Finally meeting on fire, like-minded people from all over the world who are my age and just so committed to the good news. On returning to a church after years of not attending, I was met by an incredible group of young people where I could get to work immediately on reaching others for Jesus. The challenge is that we have such a beautiful image of God to share with the world, but the world so often can’t bear to hear it – they’ve been disappointed for far too long and it is too good to be true. I know it because not long ago I was there. The other challenge is not being distracted by gorgeous, God fearing men all dressed up in dapper suits and singing bass and tenor every Sabbath (oh yes, boys, we see you).
Can you share some key lessons that God has taught you or that God is teaching you in this season of your life?
That His love is just so beautiful. That His true character, so often misunderstood, is far too lovely to ever give up for anything or anyone in this world. But I’ve also learnt that unlike the slogan “God is my co-pilot,” the reality is that just ain’t gonna do when it comes to His plans for my life. I am always steering in the wrong direction. À la Carrie Underwood, Jesus – take the wheel! So surrendering in every element of my daily life let’s just say is something I’m new to. Going from “I’m an independent woman who don’t need no man” to “I need Jesus I am such an absolute mess” a long-term effort. God’s also taught me that He’s the one thing in my life that is relentlessly and all-consumingly reliable. And that I am not in any way independent of His daily providence in my life. He’s the one that allowed me to wake up this morning, and for that I praise Him. What a top lad.
What is your life work or passion? Or what you currently doing?
I love to communicate. I write on and off for different publications (online and printed), and do a little blogging here and there, but I just love to flesh out thoughts, ideas and human communication in the form of written and spoken word. I have spent seven years all up doing two bachelors degrees in Arts and Law, and now I’ve been accepted to begin a Masters in Counselling back in Australia. I decided in my studies that the reason we need all these legal protections – manmade and man-enforced “rights” is because we are simply broken people in broken concentric relationships and communication and understanding is key on an individual and grand-scale. My ideal project is to start up a community talk session that really, deeply and empathetically opens up a can of worms when it comes to different points of view, world views, and human experiences. We need love – real love. Love so deep that we’re shaken, stirred, and healed by it. God’s love.
What is a day in your life look like/Can you give us a glimpse into your daily life?
I normally have the alarm on for 6:30 and without a doubt always press snooze and wake up an hour later, which means I do my morning devotion skipping along on my hour long walk to work talking to God and frantically apologising for not giving him the time of day earlier (I’m a work in progress). I’ll walk into work, do my thang work wise (the boring bit) and just try to have a laugh whenever I can. Apart from the Sabbath, my other favourite day is Wednesdays where we have a community choir in Notting Hill. I am a huge fan of Negro Spirituals and I just get to lyrically feel the power of Jesus in the air in those moments of singing above the pain and struggles of life. I stay up stupidly late to talk to my family back home in Australia and always take time to write, read my bible, and reflect. This happens kinda throughout the day. I can’t get enough of the Word.
In the busyness of life how do you cultivate your spiritual growth as a young woman?
I like to sing praise songs out loud on my walk to work. There’s a lot of mixing of religion in the part of the city I’m in, so it always goes down interestingly. But it’s fun! I’m not very good at prayer yet, to be honest. My mind wanders off and I have to apologise to God quite often: “oops – sorry, hehe… went on a bit of a tangent there, didn’t I,” I’ll always say. But God is always meeting us where we are. It’s great because as we walk along together, He points things out to me like the wild poppies beside a row of houses, little children playing chicken with their parents on the road and the dance of the leaves in on the pavement ahead of me. In the midst of all things busy we’re still – together. It is in the precious ‘coming to God as a little child’ moments that I truly connect with Him. I rarely complain to Him anymore.
What do you do spiritually and practically to maintain a Christ-centred approach in your work?
Operations and customer service in a start up company is a little patience-testing at time. I have a phrase I use when someone comes in angry: “such and such needs to chill.” And it’s true for everything and everyone – sometimes we just need to for one moment “chill” before we rush off getting uptight about something. But it helps me to avoid getting worked up myself – it adds a little comedy to the scenario and I bounce back saying “okay let’s help this person get sorted.” I think my calm and positive attitude at work has also affected my life outside of the 9-6 daily routine – I just smile and wait patiently, I seek to understand people, and I can avoid passing judgment so quickly. I can see that this is going to help so much as I venture into community work and counselling. To just listen and converse is the most powerful thing that humanity has.
What are some ways the Lord has given you triumph in the midst of life’s challenges? And how would you encourage somebody else going through a challenging time in their life?
I recently went through a huge life change – being born again (again!). It meant saying goodbye to the life I was used to – a whole lot of those “sins” mentioned in the Bible that I now tend to not see as “sins” in a negative way, but rather “things that are keeping me from fully experiencing God’s love”. You need to remind yourself that wherever God’s taking you, it’s so much better – and recently it’s taken a lot of me saying “God, actually, just take this away from me. Make it quick and snappy, I’d rather not dawdle and procrastinate.” Something beautiful is the fact that God created humans to be reflectors of His love and His nature, relationally intertwined. So reaching out to someone when you’re battling with something is also what the big man wants you to do. Oh, how He always has us in mind!
What advice would you give to a young woman who desires to go deeper in her relationship with Jesus Christ?
You need a network, gurl! Get yourself a group of like-minded lasses who you can just praise God together with, hold each other accountable and raise each other up when the going gets tough and the tough gets going (and oh believe me, it does). Personally, remember to say ‘In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus.’ I like the more nouveau phrase which is ‘Wake, Pray, Slay’ – a little bit of sass never did no harm, and it’s the same message. Arise, talk to God, and continue your day by abiding in Him. Jesus says ‘abide in me’ – He literally means “right now, in this moment, you can be, and are, with me. You can be perfectly saved. Good. Now just stay there.”
What is your desire for the young women of our generation?
To find healing and know their worth. Women have been mistreated, sexualised, objectified, broken, misunderstood and undervalued in society for a long time and in many different ways. To find God calling you out in the midst of all this is wonderful and even the echo of His voice is something I’d recommend all young women pay attention to. We are to be set apart. We’re to acknowledge and share the ultimate experiential existence of being “woman” and ultimately the author of your of your soul knows that better than any of us can even begin to contemplate. The author knows how the story ought to end – He wants that happily ever after for you just as much as you do. He sold all He had to buy the entire field knowing that you, a small treasure, were worth it to Him. Understand that you are precious beyond any measure – even life itself – to Christ. Know it, and own it.
What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learnt about love and relationships in your life?
I’ve seen far too many relationships dance before me, around me, and with me where love is something to be received – a ‘feeling’, as it were. But if God is love, then love isn’t these things. Love is other-centredness. Love is boundless self-giving. Love would give its all even in the face of being entirely wiped out. There should be no shame. I’m weary of ‘feelings’ – the heart is deceitfully wicked so I’ve learnt through my own experiences and those of people close to me. At the same time, love is to become a slave even though you’re free, as Paul puts it. This is so that others can become free. In the end we’re to serve. I think there’s something so inconceivably beautiful about that and I want to know it more.
Who inspires you and why?
The young women around me who helped me keep myself together when my whole world seemed to be falling apart months ago. They’d drag me out of the back pew at church as I sobbed endlessly, grab a very busty and voluptuous female church member for me to just sink into a huge comforting bosom hug with (can I get an amen? These hugs are the best!), and just sit and pray with me. They held me together, sang with me in those dark hours, and they have in the short time I have known them become dear friends. You know who you are. I’m also inspired by Ruth in the Bible. She was just so darn loyal. I want to be known for that.
Do you have any books or sermons that you recommend young women to read or listen to?
I’ve just polished off a book called A God Named Desire by speaker and author Ty Gibson. The way this man talks about relationship: his wife, his children, friends and strangers alike and about the nature of God is so poetic, so heart-stirring that it will have you saying “amen!” a hundred times over. The language made me cry on many tube rides home because it would constantly remind me that God’s even better than we’ve imagined – He’s the real desire of your heart – the missing puzzle piece to your entire experience.
What are some of your favourite things?
Brunch in the afternoon. Disappearing into the mountains for a hike. 7:30am calls from my Granny who will start off by complaining about the weather. Finding the hidden harmonies in songs. Pizza dates by the lighthouse with my mama. Videos of dogs trying to paddle when being held up above water (check it out). When the men sing the hymn “Seeking The Lost”. Double chin selfies.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Just keep your eyes on Christ, girl. It will save you so much heart ache. For reals. No. Seriously. Listen to the lyrics of Melissa Otto’s music, she had it right! Also – don’t get a credit card. Just don’t.
How can we find you online?
@strewthrewth is my instagram handle. I post photos of my adventures and little captions that just go with my feels about the life God’s leading me through. I also blog at strewthrewth.blogspot.com I’ll be getting some new branding up for a project I’m starting in Aus on my return. More on that later.