The Hope that can come to you

Ruth Kathleen Smith (Laughing Water)

Small beginnings

Born on the Onondaga Reservation near Syracuse, New York, my Native name is Laughing Water. We lived on the reservation until I was four.

My parents were both Syracuse University graduates. After a powwow that ended unhappily for my father, he joined the U.S. Army.

We were from the Turtle Clan and he wanted to be from the Bear or Wolf. In the Army we seemed to move every five years, living in Army base housing. We returned to the Onondaga Reservation to see relatives when we could.

My grandfather on my father's side was related to the Sharenhowanen. My grandmother was the daughter of a Shaman. Grandfather had a huge farm with many horses, several cows, sheep, many chickens and large fields of vegetables.

My grandfather on my mother's side was a Swedish Methodist minister in Painted Post, New York, near the reservation. My grandmother was Swedish and Norwegian. My family's Native American roots are in upper New York and Canada.

The Journey

I remember going with my family to my grandfather's church in Painted Post. People from the church held Grandpa in high esteem. When we moved off the reservation we did not go to church. As I was growing up I made some Catholic friends and they told me about Jesus, God and the Trinity. I could not understand how there could be one God in three persons. I asked my father and he got very angry and said he did not believe in the God I did. He punished me harshly. At that point I did not know what I believed in but I did not understand my father's angry reaction.

As I got older I walked to a Methodist church that I faithfully attended and in Junior High joined the youth group. I believed in God and made some kind of commitment but did not ask Jesus into my heart to be the Savior and Lord of my life until I was an adult.

My father raised us in Native American style. He had a large garden and hunted with modern bow and arrow: deer, rabbit, snake and squirrel that entered his garden. He did this when he was not working.

To Native people, the feather is a symbol of trust, honor, strength, wisdom, courage, power, freedom and leadership. So it's a sign of what we get from Christ Jesus.

I did not always walk the Christian walk. I was a single parent with three very small children and I was a feminist in a sinful relationship with an abusive man. I felt that I could not get my relationships right with men and that I was a total failure. I was rejected, betrayed, brokenhearted and lonely. I wanted to end my life.

A few years later, I was alone and the mother of three elementary and preteen children. My heart was trampled on and I was too upset to go to bed. The thought kept coming to me that Satan had an evil plan for all people Christian or non-Christian. It was Divorce. It came at a time when I was in the prime of my life physically and had children who, as all children do, needed to be sheltered, nourished and protected in a loving family with a mother and a father.

I couldn't sleep so I watched TV. The 700 Club was on. It seemed like the host was speaking directly to me. Here is where I realized that I needed Jesus and that He would help me.

As I learned more about Jesus Christ I prayed more, read the Bible, and attended a church, support group, and Bible study designed for new Christians. I prayed each night for a man to love me but to love God more than me and to love me and my children faithfully.

I asked Jesus into my heart with the prayer at the end. When I asked Jesus into my heart, in my head I heard Him ask me to forgive my father. I did and He took all the bitterness and anger away.

Then I got baptized. This was the biggest change in my life. From that moment on, I was on a fast course with Jesus. He turned my life around and healed me emotionally and trained me to follow His ways. Then He gave me a wonderful Christian husband and stepfather for my children and gained two lovely stepchildren. I was truly happy when Jesus came into my life and filled with the joy of the Lord.

You can have a changed life that is fuller, happier, with a real purpose if you choose to admit you have sinned, believe that Creator is Jesus, God's Son, and confess that He is the Lord and Savior of your life. He can make all the difference.