ep. 96 Freedom from a Self-Focused Life

Ruth Chou Simons

ep. 96 | Freedom from a Self-Focused Life with Ruth Chou Simons

On today’s episode of the Journeywomen podcast, I chatted with Ruth Chou Simons about freedom from a self-focused life. The heart of what Ruth and I discuss is how gazing at the beauty of the gospel draws our eyes to Christ, enabling us to walk in the freedom of self-forgetfulness.

So you’ll know her a little better, Ruth Chou Simons is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and speaker. She shares her journey of God’s grace intersecting daily life with word and paintbrush through GraceLaced.com and on Instagram. Ruth and her husband, Troy, are grateful parents to six boys—their greatest adventure. And, she’s also the author of Beholding and Becoming: The Art of Everyday Worship, as well as GraceLaced, which won a 2018 Christian Book Award.

  1. What does it mean to behold? How does the way we direct our eyes, minds, hearts, and hands in the everyday affect who we become?

  2. How does our self-esteem mirror how we esteem God?

  3. How does fixing our eyes on God shift our perspective?

  4. How does the gospel redeem us from self-idolatry and enable us to walk in self-forgetfulness? How does it reorient our affections?

  5. Practically, how can we look away from ourselves and look to Jesus? How do we practically preach the truth of how we’ve been rescued and respond with rejoicing to our hearts when we’ve fallen into the trap of self-focus again?

  6. Why does this continue to be a struggle for us on this side of heaven? How do we stay the course when the journey feels long and difficult?

  7. How does God call us to behold a greater view of his greatness through creation? What does doing so enable us to better understand?

  8. How does the presence of social media exaggerate our self-focus? How do you continue to engage culture through technology without giving way to self-idolatry, self-obsession, and the desire for power?

  9. How does what we choose to behold when it comes to mundane tasks we all face daily reveal what we believe about God’s provision for us? When our hearts are rightly oriented, what do these moments become?

  10. What does shifting our gaze to behold the beauty of God free us up to do and enjoy?


  1. What 3 resources would you recommend for someone who wants to walk in the freedom of self-forgetfulness?

  2. What piece of advice would you give your 25-year-old self?

  3. What is something you're looking forward to in your journey with Jesus?


“Beholding is to admire and come up before something and want to be shaped by the experience of directing my affections, my awe, my attention - that’s what beholding is really about.

“We behold Christ to be transformed by him.”

“Ultimately we can behold lots of things in life and in doing so we are shaped by those things.”

“Our eyes ultimately turn to the direction of our affections.”

“We are not worshipping only when we step into that sanctuary. He is in pursuit of us and sanctification happens every single day in the most ordinary moments.”

“If we see ourselves as image-bearers - if sanctification is conforming us to the likeness of Christ - if we see that rightly, then my job today is not to create in myself the image of who I want to be, but to allow myself to be transformed by his conforming me to his image.

“If we are image-bearers being conformed to his image to bring him glory, then the issue of self-esteem gets the back seat. We can say, ‘was God glorified.’ “

“God’s in the business of showing us how much bigger he is than we could ever conceive. We are made for awe and he is so awe-inspiring. When we start thinking that we can box up all our theological ideas and hermeneutics and put it in a box and say ‘I nailed it, I figured it out,’ that’s when we don’t have a posture of humility. Of course he’s knowable, but he’s knowable in an infinite way. The art of beholding is putting ourselves in a place where we constantly say, ‘God you are far greater and far more worthy than anything.’”

“He wove a story that could be for our good and his glory.”

“I am blown away by the entirety of the story of redemption. That he would show us the depth of our need and in the same breath provide for it, and in the same breath sustain us in it and keep us persevering in it.”

“The sanctification process happens until we meet him face to face.”

“I was created for a purpose. Sin cast me far from being able to fulfill that purpose. And because of Christ, because of the blood of Jesus, I’ve been redeemed and in sanctification made more in his likeness. So I can return to the original purpose that he created me for to bring glory to him.”

“My purpose in life is not defined by whether I succeed or fail in this moment, but whether or not I’m communing with a holy God who put me on earth today for the very purpose of right now.”

“Because of Christ, I don’t get what I deserve, but I get to live in the light of redemption. He is sanctifying every moment.”

“We are not looking at the circumstances for what they are, but we are looking at every circumstance as an opportunity to see how he is doing eternal things starting right now.”

“As simple as it is, if we were to start our day observing all the ways he is faithful and how he brings the day to order with the sunrise, it’s startling to see how that puts us in our place.”

“As believers, we are not exempt from self obsession and idolatry.”

“Everyday is an opportunity to grow in the awareness of God’s work or to grow obsessed about my own.”

“We have to be wise about when we say things and when we don’t.”

“Ask yourself when posting online or wanting to say something, ‘Who does this make much of right now?’”

“Let’s not be a generation of women who find all of our fuel online.”

“We need to be invested in the local church. Our greatest investment is first and foremost to the people in your home, and then to the people God has brought into your life in a real and tangible way.”

“If we want to learn the art of self-forgetfulness, we really just need to learn the art of being in awe of God.”

“Love the hidden years.”


Beholding and Becoming by Ruth Chou Simons

Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness by Tim Keller 

How to Worship Jesus Christ by Joseph S. Carroll 

The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer

The Expulsive Power of a New Affection by Thomas Chalmers


2 Corinthians 3:18



  1. What does it mean to behold? 

  2. What do you find yourself beholding on a daily basis?

  3. What does it look like when you are being self-focused? 

  4. How can fixing your eyes on God shift your perspective?

  5. How does beholding God change the mundane moments of life?

  6. What are you going to do or implement as a result of what you’ve learned this week?


“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2


The Christian Standard Bible —a translation built for the church— offers devotional content from their Bibles, encouraging testimonials of how God is changing lives, and the opportunity to learn more about the Christian Standard Bible translation on their social media channels. Find them on Facebook and Instagram @christianstandardbible and Twitter @csbible.

Crossway's purpose as a not-for-profit ministry is to publish gospel-centered, Bible-centered resources that honor our Savior and serve his Church. One such resource is Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin. This best-selling book challenges you to go deeper in your study of Scripture with a clear plan you can use every time you open your Bible. The second edition includes new study questions with each chapter, perfect for small groups to go through together. Learn more and find other resources at crossway.org/journeywomen5/.

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