Interview with Jane Rubietta by Christian Book Previews' editor, Debra Murphy:
CBP: Can you please share your Christian testimony?
Jane: It's hard to know where to start. When I was 13, I went forward and accepted the Lord. Then when I went to college, I was living the wrong life, and several people that I knew died, and fast forward, that's what brought me back to the Lord. One of those was my sorority president, and she committed suicide, and I thought, Wow, she had everything going for her and she did this. God really used that. Then I got through college, went to seminary, and married a man who became a pastor. And that would be the next testimony I would give, is that I realized I was really messed up.
CBP: What felt so messed up?
Jane: I was just a wreck. I was angry, and was depressed, and I didn't have a word for depression, nobody was using it much. And I was tired and had babies. It was hard.
CBP: What was your depression like?
Jane: I even address this in my book, Resting Place, because it is just so huge. I was weary, and there was no joy, and I couldn't see any light. It was like living under water. It was in that place that I finally said, Okay Jesus, if this is the real deal, if it makes any difference being a Christian, then this is the time to show me. Otherwise, I don't think Christianity is valid. And so, that next stage of my journey began as a challenge to God: I'm messed up. If you're real, then I need to be happy. And then I reached out and moved into some healing places where I knew there would be people who could help me in my journey.
CBP: How did you know where to go?
Jane: That is a long story, but what I ultimately realized was that I needed to talk through some brokenness from my childhood, and so I ended up in a 12-step group that works with that. The first time in that circle, when everybody went around and said, "Hi, my name is so-and-so," and then they talked about how messed up they were, I cried. I am not alone anymore. It was so amazing, and I knew God's love, but I began to live in that. I had never left church -- I was the pastor's wife, you can't leave church -- but I went back into more honesty in the places where I ministered in: small groups, women's Sunday schools, and being more honest about what I was dealing with, and then people started opening up. I was thinking, wow! they're as messed up as I am! And it was out of that that I began writing.
CBP: What brought you to write this particular book?
Jane: Well, with chronic fatigue, whether it's diagnosable or not, we all live with this low-level tiredness, low-grade fever. We live with that all our lives. I remember turning to my husband one day and saying, "I don't want to wait until heaven to not be tired." Of course, there's the thought, if I just sleep longer that might help. More than that, I think, is the core issue of trust. Do we really believe that God is our Shepherd and He wants to restore our soul and to lead us beside still waters? Jeremiah 50:6 says, "My people have been lost sheep... They have forgotten their resting place." And that's where we are.
CBP: So that's where you got the name for your book?
CBP: So where is the resting place? What do you need? How formal does it need to be?
Jane: Good question. Really, a resting place can be two minutes where you are just silent, and your only agenda is just to move to God's chest like you would a daddy, and say, "I want you Lord, and I'm just so tired." Just wait there, and let God love you. Or it can be a full blown day, or overnight, where you go away by yourself, and you just let God love you and you love God, and read Scripture and meditating on God's Word and sit still, dealing with some of the issues that keep you from resting.
CBP: What a beautiful thing to do -- what's stopping us?
Jane: There is that whole agenda that we always have, oh, I'm so busy I have 360 emails in my in basket; I have my palm pilot and softball, or whatever. There's all that, but underneath that is a much bigger issue than I'm so busy.
CBP: What would be the reason we're so busy?
Jane: We're busy trying to please, trying to prove ourselves, trying to validate our worth, earn our keep, trying to be all things to all people, trying to maintain control. If we actually stop the treadmill, then we have to say I'm going to trust God. And trust is pivotal.
CBP: In your book, can we look for what would be a best setting for a spiritual retreat?
Jane: In the front, there's a "How to Use This Book", or how to make this resting place for you. It can be just a walk in a state park, it can be staying in a retreat -- there are retreat centers all over America. You can just book in, and they'll pray for you while you're there, and are very unobtrusive. They'll put your name on the bulletin board and just pray for you there. So you can do that, or you can go to a friend's house who's not going to be there, and just rest there. There are so many possibilities.
CBP: What about going to a retreat where they keep you busy?
Jane: Yeah, we eat all night. Those are valid, we need those places where we have community and where we are challenged to grow and we can break through the "How are you?" "I'm fine" that goes on and begin to be real with one another. And that's really good. What happens in those places is there rarely a place for application where you can say, Okay, what difference does this make to me? How do I live differently when I go home? A personal retreat allows you to wrestle with those issues right there.
CBP: Do we busily need to talk to God?
Jane: (laughing) Do we busily need to? It's so true. For a long time I hated praying, because it was just me going over this list, and I had a thousand people on a list, and I had a Monday list, and a Tuesday list. Within a few names into it, I was asleep. I hated prayer.
CBP: Where does the silence of listening come in?
Jane: I know. That's part of the whole idea of finding a resting place, where we don't have to talk any more. God knows our heart. God knows our needs. To just be still and let God love us there.
CBP: How can we hear him if we don't have that silent time before Him?
Jane: That's right. You can't listen and talk at the same time. Not well.
CBP: What does it do for our relations when we don't take that time for retreat?
Jane: It will destroy our relationships I think, because we keep living this, almost a schizophrenic life. We know what we believe: we believe that God is real, we believe in Christ our Savior, we go to church. What ends up happening is that we pretend. We pretend we're godly people, we pretend that everything is fine, and then the denial gets really, really big. And pretty soon that's when we have so much brokenness in ministry, and why we have so much fallout is because there's not room in Christianity for people to really be broken. Our family gets torn up because they don't see who Jesus really is. They don't see what a difference it makes to know Christ.
CBP: How have retreats changed you?
Jane: It took a while, to be honest with you Debra, because I would go away and it would be so great, and then I'd come home and my house would be upside down, the hamster would be dead because somebody left the door open and the dog got in. Everything would be trashed, and I would lose it. I would just blow up. But gradually, I began to realize that the whole point is that God changes you in the midst of it. Throughout the years, I've become much less angry, I've become kinder, more patient. And also, what's been cool, is there's just more joy.
CBP: What stops us from not taking time for this retreat?
Jane: A common fear is "What on earth am I going to do?" And I remember asking a woman, "You've got four boys, let me take your boys and you can have a day away by yourself with the Lord." She put her hand on the door jam, literally leaned on it and said, she looked absolutely panic-stricken, said, "What would I do?" It doesn't help to say, you don't have to do anything, because that's so threatening, and so that's why I wrote Quiet Places, my first book and then Resting Place, my eighth book, because I wanted to give people tools for how they can live in God's presence.
CBP: Tell me about your ministry.
Jane: It's so much fun, Debra! My husband and I run Abounding Ministries, and we do work in public school and in parochial schools and in business and professional clubs, and women's retreats. He writes music that goes along with my books. It's just been so exciting to see God change us in the midst of our trying to be faithful. But also to see the hunger that people have to really be loved by God.
CBP: What do you hear from women? You probably hear from their husbands, too.
Jane: Yes, I do sometimes. And Resting Place is actually for men and women. Today in the book signing, a woman came around the corner and realized why she was standing in line, because she saw the name of the book -- I don't know, I think people just stand in line because they don't know what else to do and they get a free book -- she started bawling and started weeping because all of a sudden her exhaustion was so real to her. She just said "I need a resting place so badly."
CBP: In the Bible it talks about the Sabbath as a day of rest. Somewhere along the line we've truly lost that. Is this about getting back to finding that Sabbath?
Jane: It is. Whether it's a Sabbath-moment, and I don't use that word very much in the book because I don't think we understand it. And we certainly don't understand how God set it up in the whole Old Testament and Jewish system. Whether it's just a few minutes of Sabbath rest, or it's a whole day, we have to learn how to move into that place where it's not us running the world, it's us running to God.
CBP: I have also had friends who said, "Hello, think of our mothers. They did not take on, their lives did not run at the speed that we ran. No wonder we're exhausted." Can you share with us, how should we use this book? Should we read it in order? What guide should we go by in reading this book?
Jane: You need is what should lead.
CBP: So not chapter by chapter?
Jane: You don't have to read it chapter by chapter. What I did, is I put it together with the idea in my mind that if God is supposed to be our resting place, if Psalm 23 is real, if God really is our Shepherd and He really wants to lead us beside still waters and restore our soul, then what stops me from doing that? So I looked at the issues that keep us from resting. I look at anger, I look at fatigue, I look at our soul hunger that masks itself in busyness and shopping and all sorts of compulsive behaviors. I have women who open my books and say, "Oh, Chapter 7, that's the one for me." It's not written in an order that you have to follow, that each chapter stands alone. You can use it small groups, too.
CBP: Well thank you. Is there anything that you would like to send away to women?
Jane: I would love for us to realize how much God loves us, and how much He longs for our hearts. And how much He wants to provide rest for us. If we will do that, it will change the way we live our lives, because we will become more loving people.