GIVEAWAY ALERT: You can win the book When Strivings Cease by this week’s podcast guest. Keep reading to find out how!
In a world that applauds self-improvement, anxiety levels are at an all-time high. We feel pressure to lead, pressure to be productive, pressure to seize the day, and if you’re a parent … the pressure to parent well around the clock.
Well, today’s guest, best-selling author, Ruth Chou Simons, found herself squarely situated in that same camp, knowing there had to be a better way of living than chasing the world’s ever-changing, never-enough standard.
In this episode of the 4:13 Podcast, she’ll guide you to freedom from the never-ending quest for self-improvement and give you the truth that can change everything. It’s time to drop that endless search for adequacy and receive grace instead.
Ruth Chou Simons is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of several books, including GraceLaced, Beholding & Becoming, and Foundations. Her first Bible study curriculum, TruthFilled, released in 2020. She’s an artist, entrepreneur, and speaker, using each of these platforms to spiritually sow the Word of God into people’s hearts. Ruth is the founder of GraceLaced Co., which contains beautifully-designed prints and prayer journals that use word and art to present how grace intersects daily life. Ruth and her husband, Troy, are parents to six boys, which is their greatest adventure.
Today, Ruth and I talk about her newest book, When Strivings Cease: Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace, where she exposes the quest for self-improvement for what it really is.
Often, we think we need to keep achieving in order to receive God’s favor. But this is simply not true. And in our quest for adequacy, we struggle to see the difference between working and striving.
We end up striving in our own strength to achieve something we’re not trusting God for. And it’s in the emptiness of success that we realize good is never good enough. This inner striving becomes an insatiable monster that always needs more to feel satisfied.
Does this sound like your story? Oh, girl, you’re not the only one! And that’s why I’m so thankful for my conversation with Ruth. She answers several questions about this topic that you may be asking too, like…
- What’s the difference between working and striving?
- Am I striving if I’m taking steps toward self-improvement?
- Is it okay to use self-help books and resources?
- Why is it so difficult to accept God’s grace?
- How do I seek to obey God’s Word but not allow it to become a substitute for grace?
- What can I do to stop striving and accept God’s grace?
I want to clarify that today’s conversation doesn’t give you the “5 easy steps to make your life better.” That would be missing the point. Instead, Ruth helps you realign your heart with what you’re created for. She’ll help you see that the answer you’re looking for isn’t the latest and greatest strategy for self-improvement; it’s the transforming gift of amazing grace.
So remember, dear sister, that you need not strive because God’s grace is enough, and you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.
[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below. Then check out the links below for more helpful resources.]
- You can win a copy of Ruth’s book, When Strivings Cease. Hurry, we’re picking a random winner on May 27. Enter on Instagram here.
Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild
- Missing Pieces: Real Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
- Me, Myself, & Lies: What to Say When You Talk to Yourself
More from Ruth Chou Simons
- Visit Ruth’s website
- When Strivings Cease: Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace
- Follow Ruth on Facebook or Instagram
Related Blog Posts
- Can I Kick Self-Doubt to the Curb? With Erica Wiggenhorn [Episode 181]_
- Can I Let Go and Live Free? With Rebekah Lyons [Episode 184]
- Can I Get Out of Bad Habits and Into Good Ones? With David Nurse [Episode 115]
- Can I Quiet My Anxious Thoughts? With Jamie Grace [Episode 143]
- God Does Not Need You
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4:13 Podcast: Can I Stop Striving and Accept Grace Instead? With Ruth Chou Simons [Episode 194]
Ruth Chou Simons: If you succeed, everyone will be proud of you, they will love you, and you will not be a disappointment. And so when I finally came to hear about and know the Word of God and the Gospel, grace was really hard for me to understand.
Jennifer Rothschild: In a world that applauds self-improvement, anxiety levels are at an all-time high. You know why. We feel the pressure to lead, the pressure to be productive, the pressure to seize the day. If you're a parent, you feel the pressure to parent well around the clock. Well, today's guest, best-selling author Ruth Joe Simons, found herself in that same camp, knowing there had to be a better way of living than the world's ever-changing, never enough standard. So on this episode of the 4:13, Ruth will guide you to freedom from that never-ending quest for self-improvement, and she'll give you the truth that can change everything. It's time to drop that never-ending search for adequacy and receive grace instead. So let's hear how together. Come on, K.C.
K.C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and biblical wisdom set you up to live the "I Can" life, because -- here's truth -- you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Now, your host, Jennifer Rothschild.
Jennifer Rothschild: Hello, dear ones. We're so glad you're here again with me and K.C. That's K.C. Wright, my seeing eye guy. It's just two friends, one topic --
Jennifer and K.C.: Zero stress.
Jennifer Rothschild: So if you've got any stress, you just let it go. Thirty minutes here with us. You can pick it back up when we're done if you really need to. But I have a feeling after this conversation, you'll decide you don't need that stress anyway.
I am Jennifer, here to help you be and do more than you feel capable of as you live this "I Can" life. And this is a really good topic today, because it does seem like we are on this never-ending quest for self-improvement. I mean, sometimes it's in our what we do, sometimes it's in our appearance, you know.
K.C. Wright: Oh, hello. Yeah. Speaking of zero stress, that was not my life yesterday.
Jennifer Rothschild: What happened?
K.C. Wright: Oh, no. Okay, so I'm shaving my beard. By the way --
Jennifer Rothschild: Wait. Off?
K.C. Wright: Huh? No.
Jennifer Rothschild: Okay. You're trimming it?
K.C. Wright: I'm getting ready for church.
Jennifer Rothschild: Okay.
K.C. Wright: I'm speaking. I'm going to be in front of a crowd.
Jennifer Rothschild: Right.
K.C. Wright: And I wanted to look sharp. Okay?
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
K.C. Wright: So I start shaving the beard just to trim it. Just to trim it. Well, I went a little high on the left side, which means I hit my sideburn and up above my ear --
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, gosh.
K.C. Wright: -- which made the other side -- it was uneven. Okay?
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, gosh.
K.C. Wright: I'm like, okay, don't freak out. Don't freak out. Just mirror what you did on the other side. Okay? So I go to the other side and I tried to do the same thing and, oh, my goodness, it was so bad. It reminded me back when Covid hit and we were all on lockdown for, like, two months and nobody could get their hair cut.
Jennifer Rothschild: Right. We were all cutting our own.
K.C. Wright: Remember that? Remember that?
Jennifer Rothschild: Yes, yes.
K.C. Wright: I remember handing my clippers, wrapping a towel around myself, giving the clippers to my daughter --
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, no.
K.C. Wright: -- Eliana, my ten-year-old at the time, and I said, "Ellie --
Jennifer Rothschild: Be merciful.
K.C. Wright: -- may God be with you." And she gave me what I call an Amish haircut. It looked -- she did a great job on the top and the sides, but, boy, that back. Woo. It was a mullet that still keeps me up at night. Anyway, so -- it was terrible. It was terrible.
Jennifer Rothschild: So you had to go to church with an Amish beard?
K.C. Wright: Well, my beard was fine. It was my crooked, sideways -- because here's the deal. I cut so high above my ears --
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, no.
K.C. Wright: -- that it went back and it kind of gave the mullet look.
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, K.C.
K.C. Wright: I'm just telling you, I don't think anybody noticed, but...
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, I guess you could have preached with your head tilted the whole time and they'd be like, Is that his hair or is that him? What's going on?
K.C. Wright: I still just remember Ellie going, "Oh, Daddy." 'Cause I'm like, "How's it look? How's it look? How's it look?" I'm frantic. We're an hour from church. "How's it look?" "Oh, Daddy."
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, Daddy," that's all you got.
K.C. Wright: Talk about stress.
Jennifer Rothschild: Which, by the way, for all of us listening, whenever someone you love says, "How do I look?" Your answer is, "Great." Because really what they're asking for is a boost of confidence, not real feedback, right? But -- you know, we do need real feedback. But, boy, in those moments you just want to be like, okay, it's got to be good enough, I'm going for it.
K.C. Wright: My barber actually lives one street over from me, and I almost texted Stephen, "Do you make house calls on Sunday mornings at 8:00? I need you now."
Jennifer Rothschild: That's awesome, K.C. Well, the good thing is hair grows.
K.C. Wright: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: Hair grows.
K.C. Wright: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: All right. You know what? That actually does kind of fit what we're talking about today in this ever quest for adequacy and good enough. And you are, my brother, good enough, whether you have the most dysfunctional looking beard known to man or not. Okay.
All right. Why don't you introduce Ruth for us.
K.C. Wright: Ruth Chou Simons is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author of several books, including "GraceLaced," "Beholding and Becoming," and "Foundations." Her first Bible study curriculum, "Truth Filled," released in 2020. She's an artist, entrepreneur, and speaker using each of these platforms to spiritually sow the Word of God into people's hearts at her online shop, gracelaced.com. That's gracelaced.com.
Jennifer Rothschild: Hey, that was radio of you.
K.C. Wright: Thank you. Ruth beautifully presents how grace intersects daily life with word and art. Ruth and her husband, Troy, are parents to six boys. Just extend your right hand in faith right now to your phone. Let's pray for Ruth. All right? Six boys? She needs prayer.
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, yeah.
K.C. Wright: Oh, my gosh. She says those six boys are definitely her greatest adventure.
Now Ruth and Jennifer talk about Ruth's new book, "When Strivings Cease."
Jennifer Rothschild: All right, Ruth. You are a best-selling author and the amazing artist behind GraceLaced, so obviously you've had success in your life, and so you've worked hard. But you've written this book now called "When Strivings Cease." Okay? So to accomplish what you have, obviously you have worked, you have been striving. All right? So obviously this book is dealing with a different kind of striving, and maybe an inner striving. So I'd love for you to unpack this and kind of give us a picture of your life maybe. What prompted you to write a book about strivings ceasing?
Ruth Chou Simons: This book really is the backstory of how grace became the cornerstone of my life, my ministry, how it's changed everything about the way I think about who I am and where I get my worth from, the grace of God. And so ultimately the book "When Strivings Cease" is about how I grew up between two cultures. I grew up between my Asian background and my western upbringing here, where I ultimately found that I was constantly looking for how I could measure up, where my successes would put me on the map to have friends and to be seen and known and loved. And isn't that what we're all really looking for? We're all wanting to feel like we're known, that we belong, that we're welcome. And I don't think I could have put that into words when I was younger. But I really got the message loud and clear from peers at school, from my community, from family friends that if you succeed, everyone will be proud of you, they will love you, and you will not be a disappointment.
And so when I finally came to hear about and know the Word of God and the Gospel, grace was really hard for me to understand. It really was. It was difficult for me to understand how God would choose to give a free gift, a gift that didn't have to depend on me, that didn't have anything to do with my savvy or my hustle or my being pretty enough or doing things well enough. And so I love how you asked that question at the start, just that -- yes, to write books, to own a business, to do anything that you're called to do takes work. But I like to define this kind of striving, striving in our own strength, as anxiously toiling or maneuvering or trying to work yourself silly to gain something or achieve something that you don't quite trust God for. And so when I see that in my life, I know that I'm not trusting God to give me what is only from him and I'm trying to gain it for myself. And that anxious striving is what I'm talking about in "When Strivings Cease."
Jennifer Rothschild: I think so many of us, Ruth, can relate to this. Because sometimes one might think, oh, well, for Ruth to come to this point, she had to probably utterly fail. No. Sometimes it's in the emptiness or the potential emptiness of success that you suddenly realize, wait a minute, good is never good enough. An A is never an A plus, 100 is not enough on the test, whatever it may be, because there's an inner striving that is never met because it's an insatiable monster that always needs more to feel satisfied.
Ruth Chou Simons: Exactly.
Jennifer Rothschild: And that's a really -- I mean, I think all of us experience that in some ways. Maybe some cultures more than others, some family systems more than others, but I think we all get it. We're going to circle back to grace in a minute, because I think grace is counterintuitive to how we're wired often. But something you said made me think about this idea of the gospel of self-improvement, you know. You talk about it in your book. So tell us what -- and you might have already alluded to it. What is the gospel of self-improvement and how do we so easily fall into it?
Ruth Chou Simons: You know, the word Gospel is really -- it means Good News, as we know. And there's no good news in the world's gospel of self-improvement, this idea that if you just try harder, you can make yourself more lovable, likable, you'll live your best life, you can perfect yourself so that you can get everything you want. It sounds good at first, and that's really what self-help strategies really are. There's nothing wrong with having a tool or reading a good book that helps you get organized. But when we start putting our hope in those things, in those tools, when we start thinking that there is this end in sight in which I can be the best version of myself and, therefore, I can conquer all things because I'm powerful enough and strong enough and good enough, that is a really terrible place to be because that's a place where we put ourselves as the hero of everything, of our own stories.
And so, yeah, when I wrote the subtitle, the "Replacing the Gospel of Self-Improvement with the Gospel of Life-Transforming Grace," my desire was to draw out -- and just our awareness that we're all looking -- we're walking down those bookstore aisles, we're listening on social media thinking what's the next best thing that will help me achieve my goals or be the version of myself that I really desire, and we're missing the part where we were created for a relationship with God, and we were created so that -- in a way where the agent of change has to be God's work himself through us. And so the agent of change isn't our ability to strive and get ourselves perfected, it's really through surrendering to him, and that's a difficult concept to wrap our minds around.
Jennifer Rothschild: It's so -- yeah. Like I said earlier, it's a little counterintuitive. So let's circle back to this concept, then, that you're talking about of grace. Like, at what point did you fully realize that God's grace was enough? Was there something that happened, like a turning point or an event that happened to make you realize, okay, God's grace is the only thing that's enough.
Ruth Chou Simons: Yeah. I think it really was the perfect storm of, you know, second year in college, feeling like I had screwed up, not in ways that people could see on the outside. Like you said, you know, sometimes you can look like you're succeeding left and right and you're just perfect and you're doing great. But I knew internally ways in which I was making a mess of my life. I knew ways in which I was bitter and sad and depressed and always anxious about whether or not I was doing and being and making all the right choices, you know, all those things that you feel in college. And it was the perfect storm of those things kind of rising to the surface, me recognizing I can't be so amazing that I don't need grace. Like, I kept trying to be really amazing, but I was falling short. Like, I just couldn't. And then put together with discipleship where I actually didn't just realize that Jesus died on a cross for my sins, but I started understanding, okay, what was the law and what is a law meant to do? And, yeah, if I can't fulfill the -- if I can't meet the requirements of the law, that's because I wasn't meant to be able to do that in my own strength.
And so I detail this in one of the chapters of the book, just that -- it was just a simple Wednesday collegiate lunch at our student ministry. And our college minister just preached out of Matthew 5, Sermon on the Mount, and Jesus' words about basically, you know, you don't think you murder and you're saying you don't murder, but if you even hate someone, it's like committing murder. You know, you're not adulterous, but lusting.
And so that was like the moment that it kind of clicked for me. It was clicking. It wasn't a one moment flash of light, it was happening throughout this entire season of my life, but the pieces were coming together where I was realizing, oh, I have a really superficial understanding of what Jesus came to do. He didn't just come so that I could be forgiven and then go on my way to live my perfect life, he came to show me that I am wrecked and destitute and lost and dead in my sin without Him. And all the transformation and all that he intends for my life can't be even understood or grasped until I lay down the part where I think I can do it all myself and receive his empowerment through the grace of God instead.
And so that's when Romans came together, the Book of Romans, and that's when Galatians came together for me. And I needed somebody to walk me through that, I needed somebody to teach me. And so it was so sweet to finally understand what sound like heavy doctrines, right? Like you and I -- you know, whoever's listening right now might be like --
Jennifer Rothschild: Whoa.
Ruth Chou Simons: -- Hey, I just want like a -- I just want a few good tips for my day today. And I'd say, Sister, listen, I get it. Like, I wish I could just tell you five ways to make your day amazing and to knock your list -- you know, knock everything off your list and be the best version of yourself. But what I'm really trying to do is just reach through your AirPods and just say what we really need is to realign our hearts with what we were created for. We were created for this intimacy with a God who would choose to do everything to make it possible for you to be in his presence. Not by your striving, not by your good choices, not by your being an amazing parent, but just simply because you give up and you surrender and say, "I'm yours." That's what he's after.
Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and that is the picture of grace, this concept that it is not earned. I mean, God loves you just as much on your worst days as he does on your best days. Nothing alters his perception of us through Christ. It is counterintuitive, though, Ruth. So what do you think it is about God's grace that makes it super hard to accept? Or maybe it's not even that. Maybe what is it about us that makes it so hard to accept?
Ruth Chou Simons: Well, I do think, one, it's hard to accept because -- well, even in the garden, Eve saw that the one fruit that God said not to eat, she said, Well, it's going to make me wise, so maybe I should eat it. And ultimately it wasn't just that the fruit was shiny, right? It wasn't pretty. It was that she wondered if God was holding out on her, if there was something more that she could be receiving. There was something outside of what God told her that she could be achieving for herself.
That's why -- remember my definition of striving in our own strength, trying to get for ourselves something we don't quite trust God for. And that's really what Eve did. She literally was just like, Well, maybe God didn't tell me the whole truth. Maybe he doesn't know best. Maybe he doesn't have the best in mind for me. I might know more or get more if I do it for myself. And so the truth is I think it's hard for us to receive grace because, one, I think in our own pride, in our fallenness, we are self-reliant, we are self-righteous, we want to rely on ourselves.
But the other side of it, Jennifer, is that I think that in some ways we're kind of biblically illiterate and we've kind of grown very unaware of what Jesus says about who he is, what's actually true about God's character. Why would we really rely on this holy God unless we know that he is good and kind and that he's merciful and that he's sovereign. That he still holds all things together, that he really sees all the details, that he is in our mundane. Why would we trust him that his grace is enough if we have a shallow faith and kind of wonder -- like, if we simply only go to Instagram for our encouragement and never really go to the Word of God. And I'm not knocking Instagram --
Jennifer Rothschild: No, I know.
Ruth Chou Simons: -- I obviously work on Instagram, but you know what I mean.
Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, yeah. Well, because -- yeah, 'cause I post Scripture. I post spiritual encouragement and all that.
Ruth Chou Simons: Me too.
Jennifer Rothschild: But my being a resource is not the same as The Source --
Ruth Chou Simons: Yes. Absolutely.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- and neither is yours.
Ruth Chou Simons: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: I mean, we are resources, but we are not The Source. And so --
Ruth Chou Simons: Absolutely.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- yeah, we need to go straight there. Because you're right, I think there is some biblical illiteracy. I am guilty of it, and I write Bible studies. I mean, we're always learning and we're always growing, and so I love that encouragement.
I want us to go back to your book, to the introduction of your book. Okay? Because you write that we all have this tendency -- okay? -- our tendency to be more and do more and achieve more. They're just really based on our core belief about who God is. Okay, because you just kind of said that. And that, of course, will affect who we are. So go a little deeper with that. Because you talked about knowing God. And there's -- there's this awareness knowledge and then there's a deeper knowledge. So kind of unpack that for us.
Ruth Chou Simons: Well, I think we can't underestimate the fact that we're all shaped by what we understand a father to be. And I share the story in the book, but I'll just tell it quickly because this is always in my mind. That before my father -- before my dad was a believer, you know, he was a real quiet, kind of stern person. And that's just in his nature in general. But I detail in the book about how one time I tried to bear my soul and tell him all the things that were going on in my life and he really didn't respond at all. And when I asked him why he doesn't listen to me or talk to me or respond to the things that are seemingly important to me, that I think are important, he said, "Well, because you haven't finished the dishes yet." And in that moment, I realized why I had such a strange understanding of God, my Father, because in my mind I thought -- you know, it was not that it was my dad's fault for making this, it's just that that was my context. My context was you're worthy of being paid attention to when you get your job done. You are worthy and you're seen and known and you have a place at the table when you read your Bible and when you do a good job, when you don't sit in this way, when you follow through with your commitments, all the things that we think are like, quote, good Christian things to do. And so we start making the goal to impress others and impress God rather than pressing into what he's invited us to, which is to know him more.
And so when I wrote that introduction in the book, I said, Well, we're all struggling with this. We're all struggling with this idea of, like, we got to just do more and be more, because we do that with others around us, right?
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, right.
Ruth Chou Simons: Just hop on social media and you see it. Or at the same time we're kind of doing that at the core with God as well where we stay away when we think maybe he's mad at us, or we gladly proclaim the Gospel when we think we have been an impressive version of ourselves or when -- you know, I have a new Bible study come out, I'm flush with ideas, but really I feel a little -- maybe real quiet or I feel gun-shy when I feel like I haven't been as steadily in the Word. And the guilt and pride issue there causes us to create this extra narrative where we think that we need to keep achieving in order to receive favor, and that's simply not true.
Jennifer Rothschild: You know, guilt and pride, they are not compatible with grace. And I think sometimes when we feel guilt, we think that's a laudable Christian emotion. Oh, because that means I'm sensitive to the Holy Spirit. Conviction means we're sensitive to the Holy Spirit, but guilt can be used by the enemy. Guilt is used by the enemy to draw us from grace, not lead us to grace.
Ruth Chou Simons: Yeah.
Jennifer Rothschild: But, you know, as you were sharing -- because I -- I mean, my heart felt the story with your dad as you just shared it before he was a believer. It was what he knew, you know.
Ruth Chou Simons: Exactly.
Jennifer Rothschild: I hear that, though, and I think, okay, I grew up as a believer, I had my own strivings. But I even remember as a little girl when I first came to Christ -- I think it's Colossians 3 -- but I remember the headline of that chapter, "Rules for Holy Living." And I cannot tell you, I devoured it.
Ruth Chou Simons: Right?
Jennifer Rothschild: I'm like, Okay, good, you just gave me a To-Do list.
Ruth Chou Simons: Yes.
Jennifer Rothschild: Even as a little girl, it was like, Okay, now I know how to please you. And so I think there is a -- even if you grew up in a perfect family system -- which no one did -- even if you grew up in a perfect culture where you were just loved for who you are, not what you did -- okay, all that withstanding -- there's even enough messaging in Christianity to confuse you if --
Ruth Chou Simons: Absolutely.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- you're not careful. And so I would just be curious, Ruth, how do you parse that? Because it has taken me years to realize, no, I follow Scripture and I do what the Lord says, but it's really not -- I don't have the ability to do it myself. It's Christ's power in me and it's a response of love, not to receive love. How do you deal with that? Because I know you love the Lord and you love the Word and you want to do what it says. So how do you do that and it not become a substitute for grace?
Ruth Chou Simons: I love that you just shared that whole thing of, like, rules for Christian living. Because for so many years, I -- I mean, it's embarrassing to even admit this out loud, but I would skip over the first several pages of Paul's Epistles -- right? -- and get to the whole part -- the one anothers. I'd get to the part where --
Jennifer Rothschild: Tell me what to do, yeah.
Ruth Chou Simons: -- you do this, you don't do this. You do this and you don't do this. And never recognizing that in all of Paul's writing, the therefore is always pointing back to the reason for why we can now walk in a manner worthy, as he says. Right?
And so it really took me a very long time to -- well, it took me a higher view of God and a higher view of his Word to realize I'm not going to skip over chapter 1, 2, and 3 of Ephesians. I got to read what it is that Paul's saying. If it was good enough for him to start the letter to the Church of Ephesus this way, it's good enough for me. Like, I got to start there. And, you know, it's there for any listener who maybe hasn't, you know, skipped over -- who is skipped over recently, I would just say remember that he always starts with who God is. And then he always tells us, well, then, therefore, this is your identity in Christ because of who he is. And then he gets to, So then, guys, let's start acting this way in accordance to who we are in Christ. And so I think all our behavioral issues -- you know, we say that and it sounds like we're talking about kids, but we're really talking about grown women here.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.
Ruth Chou Simons: But our behavioral issues really point to belief issues. Right? Right believing ultimately leads to right living. It's not a formula, it's just the true situation of what overflows out of our lives is the contents of our hearts.
And so when Paul tells us, this is how you one another each other in a biblical and Godly way, well, that overflows from each one of us knowing who we are in Christ and having that reservoir to then be able to have holy living emanate from us. And so I think part of the problem is -- I and anyone else who struggles with this -- we start at the wrong place. We start with a place of how do I please God? How do I do this right today? And sometimes it's just because we're so results focused.
Jennifer Rothschild: Sure.
Ruth Chou Simons: We're so like, Where's the fruit? Like, I got to see results today. When the work of transformation, the work of sanctification happens one step at a time as we direct our hearts to actually line up with his. So I always know when I'm not really, like, lining up with his heart when I'm going, I'm going to be patient today. I want to be a patient person. And I'm just like really -- even that's a good thing, but I could be striving to do it in my own strength rather than focusing first on, like, who has he said I am in him?
So if my identity is unchallenged, if it's secure, then why do I have to be impatient? Impatience is only trying to get something that I'm scared that I'm not going to get from my own comfort or good. But if God is my good, then I have all the patience in the world because he's going to give it to me in good time. That's the kind of pattern I had to work on. And I got to tell you, it's not like it just comes naturally. I had to, like, physically say those things to myself. And anyone who's followed me before would know that I say, like, I'm preaching to my own heart. And that's really the pattern I had to walk through, like, get myself -- you know, hold myself accountable to what's the truth here? Why are you spiraling out of control? Why are you acting like it all depends on you, and how do you realign with the truth again?
Jennifer Rothschild: That is so good. There's so much you said there. And I do want to encourage -- I know there's some listeners, the Type A's, who have been trying to write everything you said. We will have this on the show notes, because -- I mean, even just one statement I heard you say, Ruth, really strikes me, the simplicity and depth of it: we don't have behavior problems, we have belief problems. Well, that's my summary of what you said. And that's astounding for some people right now to hear that and realize, oh, I've been working on the wrong end of things. All right, so -- boy, I could talk to you forever. And obviously --
Ruth Chou Simons: I know, me too.
Jennifer Rothschild: -- we're going to have your books there, because I want -- that's how our listeners can listen to you talk even more through your book. But I love your heart, I love your spirit, I love your mind, I love your willingness to follow the Lord here.
But we're going to have to close this up, so let's go to our last question. All right? From a practical standpoint, what does it look like -- because we've talked a little bit theoretical. So what does it look like to stop striving and to accept God's grace? I mean, I know it's not a one and done, I know it's a daily thing. But give us a practical image of what that looks like every day. What can we do?
Ruth Chou Simons: Remind yourself every day who God is by -- I would say the two most important things is, one, go to the Word so you're not making things up in your mind. Go to the Word. Start somewhere. Just start small. Read Ephesians where we read about the grace of God. Read even out of the Psalms and hear the psalmist's heart for God's kindness, his love and his mercy and his grace.
And then secondly, on a practical level, go outside. Every day spend some time -- I don't care where you live, if you live in downtown inner city or you are out in the mountains, in the woods. Wherever you are, we all have access to a sunrise or a sunset. I need that every day because I need to remind myself that he is still in control and that the very covenant he made with Abraham that he would be faithful through the stars in the sky, like, counting the stars as they stood there together, that same reminder is true every night when the stars come out. And so just on a practical level, I would say put your phone down. Put your phone down, take your gaze off of what you can try to maneuver or strive for or gain by spending five more minutes hustling on an app or surfing the net, and just put it down, go on a walk. And maybe don't even listen to a podcast or don't even call a friend, just spend some time talking to the Lord, say, God, I need to know who you are. I read today that you said you are faithful and that you're sovereign and good. Show me how you are. Start -- I'll just start by acknowledging, Father, that you made all this and I had nothing to do with this.
K.C. Wright: Beautiful. Amen.
Ruth is right, he is holding this whole thing together and he is holding your heart right now. Her last two practical steps are worth repeating. Go to scripture, read about grace, read through Ephesians, and then go outside.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. Right? I agree with that. I thought that was so practical. We got to observe his majesty. Remind yourself that God really is in control, and you are not, and you don't have to be.
K.C. Wright: And I know another way to tap into God's grace, Ruth's book.
Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, there you go.
K.C. Wright: And, of course, we're giving one away on Instagram. Go to Jennifer's Insta profile right now. It's simply found @jennrothschild. And on the show notes you can find a full transcript of this entire conversation.
Jennifer Rothschild: Until next week, our dear friends, we're so glad you joined us. And remember, you do not need to strive, because God's grace is enough and you can do all things through Christ, through his grace that gives you strength. I can.
K.C. Wright: I can.
Jennifer and K.C.: And you can.
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