An Opportunity To Return To Rest
Ruthie Allen is a friend, wife, mother, entrepreneur, and photographer. She began the Return to Rest Retreat in 2014, understanding that her many titles complimented her, but that they were not what her identity was built on. Return to Rest is a retreat for ALL women rooted in finding true rest through Jesus Christ. Ruthie is excited to continue to share this message of rest with others as she facilitates this retreat in a cozy cabin in New Hampshire.
It was a privilege to speak with Ruthie and see the heart behind Return to Rest. As Ruthie and I chatted, I saw the shift between her definition of rest before and after she began the retreat. Like most of us, Ruthie understood rest as vacation time when she wouldn't have to work, that society tells us rest is a time to check out, shut off our brains, or pull out our phones and start scrolling. Most people understand rest as something that has to do with easing our minds, but what if true rest has more to do with our souls being rejuvenated than our minds being dulled?
Since starting Return to Rest, Ruthie says that her definition of rest has definitely changed. Ruthie mentioned that one aspect of rest is trusting in God, whether that be with our job, finances, relationships, our future, or identity. When we are focused on what we lack in those areas, our souls become unsettled, looking for relief. We keep striving to find a cure that will stop these nagging thoughts of, “I am not good enough, doing enough, or if I just do this one more thing...”. We think that shutting our brains off is the solution, but as soon as we turn our brains back on, we fall right back into those anxious thought patterns. We need a long term solution, not momentary relief.
Ruthie created Return to Rest out of a broken burnt-out place. She too was looking for a long term solution instead of cheap rest. Ruthie shared with me, “Now, when I hear the word rest, I think, ‘Am I trying to take control of this situation?’ Rest is trusting in God, not thinking. I face this battle mostly with work and trusting God with my work (as a photographer), booking shoots, and finances. Even if I set boundaries in my work life, by setting hours and not working outside of those hours, I am trusting that the Lord is still going to provide.”
Now I can say to myself and to all, “Relax and rest, be confident and serene, for the Lord rewards fully those who simply trust in him.”
Ruthie begs the question, “Are you doing this work out of abundance or worry?” She wants women to understand that it is okay to step away from work. Ruthie kept going back to the story in Leviticus 25 when God's people were called to take a one year sabbath. This story emphasizes the importance of rest and trusting God to meet our needs.
Ruthie has found that the long term solution to rest is Jesus, “Ultimately, to achieve a soul rest, we need to come back to the Lord. If not, we are never going to truly rest. We are always seeking something of the world and that will never be fulfilled. I want to tell people because it is the Gospel. We should be examples of what it means to fully rest in the Lord with our lives, work, and everything else. Again, it pulls back to the Old Testament (Leviticus 25) as rest was displayed to the world by taking a sabbath: There is freedom in it. The biggest compliment I get is, ‘How are you not worried about money or that you aren't posting a lot on Instagram? How are you not stressed about that?’ In response, “I serve a God who provides everything I need. Yes, I will work hard, but it all comes back to balance and set your mind right.”
Ruthie and I chatted about how she incorporates rest into her daily life by making it a priority. We are all different, but for Ruthie, having a morning routine helps her start each day resting with Jesus, connecting with Him, and trusting Him with her day. Ruthie realizes that this can look different for everyone, “Setting your mind at the beginning of the day, that matters. It helps me to take that time of rest before starting my workday being filled up with Jesus instead of social media. I am not perfect at it and still struggle with worry.” Ruthie reminds us that we have to continue to fight against our struggles, but rest helps us view them differently.
Spending time with Jesus leads us to trust that He is more powerful and gracious than our struggles.
True rest has not only helped Ruthie trust in God, but also to find new (and returning to old) hobbies. Instead of filling our heads with junk, like watching tv or scrolling through social media, Return to Rest encourages women to enjoy life-giving activities. During the retreat, Ruthie encourages the attendees to limit their screen time and bring other activities (such as knitting, crafts, games, drawing, etc).
Ruthie is passionate about continuing the Return to Rest Retreat to spread the message of true rest. Ruthie adds that she needs the retreat just as much as anyone does, “You need to be reminded of it. We all need this.” Through Jesus, we are able to restore our view of rest and Ruthie wants to cultivate an atmosphere to bring us back to the long-term solution… Jesus!
How do you make time for rest in your life?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
My name is Moriah Spencer and I’m an English Major at Nyack College. Ever since I was young I have had a passion to create. Whether that be writing a story, painting, or decorating my room. God has given me a desire to share how He has changed my life and I am excited to take you along on my journey!