A Life Well Lived
Carol Suzanne Ruddick
(June 21, 1942 – October 26, 2023)
When most committed believers pause long enough to grasp the realities and priorities of their journey, there exists a heart-cry: that theirs might be a life well lived. As the one who lived closest to her for over 52 years, as I reflect over the years we spent together, I can attest to Carol Ruddick’s journey reflecting a life well lived.
Carol was never satisfied with the status quo. During good and bad times, she was one who consistently reached for more. She upheld a high standard. And it was her nature to encourage and help others do the same. Carol had a special love for those she knew …. a genuine kindness that almost always was reciprocated. Carol could be trusted. Next to the love we shared, was a trust that was a bond between us.
Of her many accomplishments; university teacher, entrepreneur, case manager, missionary, licensed psychotherapist and counselor …. I think her greatest gift was what she imparted as a counselor. She was good … actually exceptional. She had a special compassion that blended into the wisdom she operated in.
Whatever became her focus …. she would be all-in. I think one of her greatest joys was as a mom, grandmother and great-grandma. And her example: it made ME whole. Her love of the Lord was deep, real and very practical. One of my favorite memories of her was in going to a rural location in Vietnam to minister …. on the back of motor bikes …. slipping and sliding as we traversed narrow, muddy rice paddy dikes. That was when we were in our 60s.
Early in our walk with the Lord, we daily joined in prayer with a couple who had been missionaries in Cambodia. They were sent at a time, as the mid-70s approached, that most missionaries were leaving due to the heightened battle-ground it had become with the advance of the Khmer Rouge.
Their mission was in preparing a key remnant of believers to go underground. They acquainted us with a Bible reading plan they had developed to give them the spiritual fortitude to deal with the high-level, toxic spiritual atmosphere they faced. It involved immersing ourselves in nine chapters of the Bible each day. Much like we would feed our bodies three meals a day, this spiritual nourishment involved three chapters, three times a day. My adaptation of this bible reading plan became the routine and key to our spiritual maintenance in the years that followed. It became foundational for everything else … one that Carol pursued into her late 70s.
But I think Carol’s greatest virtue was birthed out of tragedy …. extreme tragedy. The kind that puts your faith on the line. It was the brutal murder of one of our adult daughters and then the bizarre unfolding of years of events …. given substance and life from a false prophecy … that seemed to exacerbate and compound an already untenable personal loss.
Despite these overwhelming developments, Carol gave her focus to becoming certified in the highest level the psychiatric and psychology fields have in trauma counseling. The message she effectively imparted in doing so was forgiveness. While refusing to be a victim, I can affirm that Carol Ruddick lived her message. Yet, there is more to this unique issue, so central to Jesus’ message. It determines the reality that we choose to live in.
She used to sum it up with the words that “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself.”
While in Afghanistan in May of 2002, Carol ministered one-on-one to a group of women whose cultural norms gave their husbands license to brutalize them and treat them as less than human. Carol indicated that listening to their stories was the hardest thing she had ever done. Her response to her own tragedy – the murder of our daughter – gave credence to the peace, strongly witnessed by these women, that she herself possessed and was offering them.
I find it insightful that the example the Lord gave us (Matt 6) on how to pray, what we call the Lord’s prayer not only gives focus to this matter of forgiveness when we pray, but in the very following verse of this classic prayer, there is a sequence impacting the very issues and realities of life, which begins by reiterating the pivotal nature of this relational matter of forgiveness.
“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Matt 6-14-15
The Passion translation adds a dimension to this truth with the attitude that needs to accompany prayer: “Make sure you forgive the faults of others, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you.”
Forgiveness is a gift you give yourself. While very much a choice, its practice is a mark of spiritual maturity. Again, it determines the reality we live in: that of Light or that of darkness.
Forgiveness rests on a foundation of being able to trust. The pivot point, the point of demarcation into the reality determined by God is our trust in the Lord as described in Proverbs.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not unto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
When we begin to grasp that the Lord is the one who overrides the circumstances that happen to us …. especially those that are due to the faults of others …. the practice of forgiveness changes our response to others.
I’ve heard it said that while we are called to love our brethren, not all are deserving of our trust. Trust is a special relational dimension that rests on the expectation of the consistency of the behavioral patterns of the trusted one.
Again, trust must have its foundations in our interactions with the Lord. From that will emerge those relationships that are genuinely trustworthy. Trust is something that develops in personal relationships that recognizes the “faults” but encourages and emphasizes the gifts and (realisticallY) the expectations. It is the gateway into the spiritual realities governed by the nature and person of our Lord.
There is much wisdom to be gleaned from Paul’s teachings, especially those concerning the fruits and gifts of the Spirit. However, within Jesus’ role to reveal the Person and nature of the Father are vital keys to living in God’s reality: gratefulness, forgiveness and trust being at the forefront.
Trust represented one of the most significant overriding dimensions of Carol’s and my 52 year relationship. In honor of this woman of God, whose chief message was forgiveness, whose character and integrity was one you could trust implicitly, I’d like to briefly unwrap a few points about the unique connection between these two virtues: trust and forgiveness.
In doing so, I need to reemphasize this important discipline which Carol and i shared: of daily spending time in God’s word. It represents an exposure to those higher dimensions of not only Truth, but the very nature and person of God.
This practice of regularly being exposed to God’s word imparts Life. It has its foundations in Truth and the reality where God resides. It becomes the gateway into the means by which the Holy Spirit fosters Spirit-to-spirit communication with us. It defines the difference between soul and spirit; and the pathway of living within the spiritual realm rather than the soulish realm.
Understanding the glue that connects forgiveness and truth requires a glimpse at unforgiveness and untrustworthiness.
Unforgiveness is almost always justified. It is fueled and controlled by our soul-nature. That’s why trusting the Lord has to be the first step in distancing ourselves from this reality.
Allowed to fester and take root, unforgiveness becomes a spirit that undermines perceptions of not only God’s reality but reality in general, as it morphs into bitterness and becomes obsessive and even the cause of mental illness. The WSJ had a recent article on an accomplished woman, a PBS producer married to a surgeon with two children, who for the last 40 years of her life was deluded into a homeless life of deceit and guile (“She Talked Like a Millionaire, Lived in a Parking Garage and Fooled Almost Everyone,” WSJ, Jan19, 2024). Sadly, a world distanced from the realm of trust and forgiveness.
Forgiveness therefore becomes a choice, a decision …. based on the knowledge that only God can be the judge. It offers the access into a freedom from the need for vindication …. that incorporates the power to be able to genuinely pray FOR your enemies and those who spitefully use and persecute you. Survival for believers in lands of persecution rests on the ability to live in this God-reality, where forgiveness and rightly-placed trust become staples for the community.
In the eyes of persecutors, it represents one of the greatest witnesses to the reality of God. The bitterness that evolves from unforgiveness, on the other hand, becomes the trigger for inroads into all kinds of darkness and unanswered prayer.
Until she retired from her practice as a licensed psychotherapist and joined with me on the missionary journeys to the persecuted that we shared, Carol’s office was in a facility called People-House. It was run by and officed largely by New-Age practitioners. Carol used to joke that she was their token Christian. Nevertheless, she was respected and loved by those with worldviews completely different from hers. It was because she was real. There was never any pretense. And her identity as a believer was never in question.
Yet when push came to shove, it was the life she lived. She always sought to do the right thing. Carol was always reaching for that reality. It was the reality Carol chose to embrace and live within, which was recognized by those not only in this office complex but wherever she went. It was the Light that shines in the darkness that resulted in her being loved and respected wherever she went.
Indeed, Carol Ruddick’s was a life well lived.
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Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner of the Joseph-calling and God’s economy message, being an international voice for the higher dimensions of spiritual game-changers and intercessors since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation, the Strategic Intercession Global Network [SIGN] and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program and the Jewish Business Secrets YouTube series, Mr. Ruddick’s messages equip leaders and economic community builders with strategy where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to 3838 South Wabash Street, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at https://strategic-initiatives.org/donate/
2024 Copyright Morris Ruddick — email@example.com
Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For more information go to https://strategic-initiatives.org