Tuesday, February 7, 2017

So many people have asked, many have made assumptions and questioned my heart and motives over the last few months. While I truly am working hard to not put stock in what other people think or say, I do believe that clarity, truth and understanding is important. We are always quick to believe all we hear and have little desire most often to seek out the truth in its entirety. Perception is not reality and I believe that we should always dig a little deeper into the lives of those around us rather than listen to what others may be saying even though some of it may be true. Overhearing conversations in a target aisle can completely throw a broken girl into more brokenness. I've been ignored, eye rolled and hated by people I thought were friends. We justify gossip in the name of Jesus and throw in that Christian lingo to draw conclusions about people we know not much about. We don’t know the hurt and struggle that each of us is internally dealing with because many of us hide it so well and do not speak of it. I may get in trouble for saying this, but I think Christians are the worst at drawing conclusions in the name of Jesus. We; including myself hide behind God and put on the face of perfection and yet the reality of that looks more like loneliness, despair, shattered dreams, rejection, shame and fear.

This journey of brokenness in my own life I want to share so that in TRUTH you see my heart and life through eyes of grace and love; through the eyes of Christ. I believe as God is doing a work in us; he still used us in our brokenness to share His truth and the ways He has restored and given us freedom in dying to everything else around us but Him. 2 Timothy 1:8 says-Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, but share in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. 

With that being said, I can say that I am a sinner, bound by the desires of the world, quick fixes and opinions of others. I have struggled with depression, immense anxiety, rejection, fear, extreme loneliness and a multitude of other things over the years. Unfortunately, I have distracted myself, kept myself so busy so I wouldn’t have to deal with any emotion that was less than joyful. I have not always sought the most appropriate ways of dealing with those things and allowed my self to push aside what was right to get what I felt I deserved or would ease my pain quickly. I have set God aside so many times to meet my own needs. At some point, none of my self soothing tactics worked any more and I was left in a position I never dreamed and had judged others for doing. I fell on my knees knowing that was all I had left...to surrender my brokenness to God. This instance required great faith and trust in my God I struggled to believe loved me extravagantly after all my sin and rebellion against Him. If I was going to survive I had to be willing to give up all of me. Up to that point in my life, most of my actions did not line up with my words. 

In December, I spent 3 weeks in Seattle at a "retreat Center”. This is what I told people because I was embarrassed that I was going to a “treatment facility” for anxiety and depression. As I pushed aside those feelings of shame the best I could, I tried to focus on my ultimate goals while attending A Place of Hope. They were to grow closer to the Lord so that the other areas of my heaped up heart were supported and easier to deal with. I needed to gain understanding about life as to why I was acting and reacting in negative ways and figuring out better ways of functioning as a woman with high anxiety and stress. I needed to learn better ways of managing my time to be more effective as a momma, friend, a future spouse and as a business owner. My heart longed to learn how to be “present” and content, to be still and to not be constantly looking for the next best thing. I have to say that the morning my dear friend dropped me off was one of the lowest points in my life. An overwhelming amount of fear and shame washed over me as I stepped foot into the treatment center. This loneliness like I have never experienced before left me paralyzed from even speaking for the first few days I was there. 
I prayed before I went that I would not have a crazy room mate, and that she would either not say a word or be really encouraging. Well, God’s hand was all over it because I ended up with a roommate who made me laugh more than I had in a really long time. If you know me, you know I LOVE laughing. By the fourth night my fears died down and I began to relax and eat up all the information I could! I got I got spend so much time outside, journaling and listening to music. All of theses things I enjoy but put on the back burner. My heart left renewed, and ready to conquer.
To explain in a little more detail, let me go back a few years….

As a young child I experienced great fear, rejection, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, shame and neglect. At the age of seven I was adopted but prior to my adoption the life l lived consisted of undisciplined parenting by my grandparents, abuse from my mother and her boyfriends, an absent father who was in and out of jail and abusive in between stints. This set the foundation in my young heart for how I would view myself as an adult. “I am worthless, I am unloveable, I am bad, I am unworthy, I am unwanted, I am not worthy of God’s love.” Throughout the years, these things became wired into my brain as truth. Trying to retrain the brain as a 33 year old is hopelessly impossible. I never trusted really anyone and tried my my hardest to push people’s button to test them and see if they would too give me away or prove my theories right on love and acceptance. I did I a lll I could to push people away before they push me away first. It became my defense over the years. I lived in constant fear of rejection. I thought it would hurt less if I had the control. So I thought…..

I figured that if I just ignored the pain, pushed it so deep down I couldn’t reach it that it would eventually go away. This is further from the truth. Our unwillingness to let go of pain and lay it at the feet of Christ will eventually manifest in ways that are far from healthy. Unknowingly it begins to effect our friendships, parenting and marriages to the point that it destroys them. I got to this point in many areas of my life and in an hour of great desperation late November, I knew that I needed in-depth, undistracted(by phone, social media, emails…etc)professional counseling and therapy to heal from some pretty deep wounds I never wanted to deal with through out life and the last 10 years . I needed professional help to discover my purpose and worth. I would say “again”, but the naked truth is; I’ve never believed that I was worthy or made for Great purpose or capable of being genuinely loved. 
So what did I do for three weeks you ask other than sit in class, therapy, dr. appointments, fighting with God, eating more health nut food than I cared to, exercise and journaling from 8am-10pm? I learned that genuinely loving others starts by loving myself. If you think about it, you can not ride a bike without someone showing you how to do it. In just the same way, you can not truly love unless you are shown how. As a child this was not something I feel was adequately displayed until the age of seven. I learned to forgive and give up control, to peel back the layers of pain, and that it didn’t have to be all at once. I learned that I could focus on one thing at a time. Part of my struggle in my selfishness was putting my needs before my girls. This is humbling and hard to admit. I had not been actively doing that even though I know I love them with all my being. Most of all, I learned that I am not defined by my depression,  shame, anxiety, divorce, and other short comings that have led me into darkness. I learned that I am indeed worthy, not because of others opinions and acceptance of who I am inside and out, but because GOD SAYS: YOU ARE MY CHILD. Isaiah 40:31-“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
God has spoken to me several times through out the last few months to die to myself, so I can live with Him and in His truth. To know that I am ENOUGH because of who I am in His grace and love. I am not made enough by mere actions, appearance, acceptance by men or others, but by the sacrifice Christ made by dying on the cross for my sins! The verse John 16:14 says “You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name and you will receive and you will have abundant joy.” I finally asked Him for help. I finally surrendered my will to allow the blessings of His to bring the spirit of truth. When we take a minute have a conversation with God, it changes us and it began a change in me.
The people He has brought into my life during this season of life have spoken truth but with love and great discernment. Being home from Seattle has been a great challenge as I fall into old habits and desires. I can honestly say that surrounding myself with people who are going to hold me when I am breaking and who will listen when they ask me how I’m really doing and want the real response. I have had friends randomly drop by to just give me a hug, ask to pray with me during lunch, drop off food, gifts of encouragement and those who text daily words of accountability to be in the word. More so, my dear momma and daddy have held me up on the worst of days and has supported and loved me through my sin, and struggle. My brother and I have grown closer, and my dear sisters and I have been able to fight our struggles together. Satan knows what I am capable of and wants nothing more to destroy me and has flung one hurdle after another in my way. 
A good friend shared a vision she was given….”In order for an arrow to be launched you have to pull back on the bow”. Much like life, in order for their to be positive change we have to allow God to pull us back. To remind us of who we are, to remind us where we are and that He is in control not because we are his puppets, but because He truly desires for us to live in complete joy and freedom. “He is our gift and He is our guide, in Him we can abide”. 

I share all of this not for sympathy but as part of my healing process. To say openly that I am broken, a sinner looking for quick fixes, selfish, and someone who has hidden behind the face of God. I share this to say that I am a good person who makes bad choices. That I am worthy, forgiven, accepted and loved by a God who has forgiven me and wants nothing more than to be in a close relationship with me. In spite of my mistakes, they do not define me. Even though I have deeply hurt others, if I seek forgiveness, there is freedom. I am constantly being molded and refined, distracted and needing to be reminded to stay on the right track. I am constantly having to die to myself in order to see God’s face and quite frank it HURTS and royally sucks! I am finding new freedoms daily and look forward to living in peace and contentment as God continues to define my purpose. While I have a mountain to still climb, it isn't as steep. God is good and my life is because of HIM. 

5 comments :

  1. This is so beautifully written. Ashley you are a gem! Far beyond the prices of rubies. What we need to do daily is find ways to remember that we are indeed God's Daughters, for He indeed is our Father in Heaven. ❤

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  2. Thank you so much for sharing. This touched the heart more than you know. You're an exceptional woman. Stay strong, god is helping us all even when we don't see it.

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  3. Ashley, you have a gift of writing. Thank you for being open and honest...such a thing that most can only "talk" about doing but never really do. You are an inspiration through your journey of healing. I pray for you often..you are loved!

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  4. Ashley,I "accidentally" came across this today. You are AMAZING. Thank you for opening your heart to healing and sharing all this publicly. I have been on a journey the last two years healing abuse from my childhood and it's hard and painful to face. Hang in there and keep pressing on. The freedom and peace from all the old stuff is increasingly incredible. -ashley

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  5. Love you and your heart! Just now seeing this post. You are amazing and inspiring!!

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