Your Label Doesn’t Define Me.

Challenge & Revelation

A cute guy passed by me today. When we made eye contact, he spoke a smiling hello as he passed by. My heart stopped for a second and two things went through my mind: “he actually noticed me!” and “he probably notices the 4 kids in the stroller, too.” I nodded a shy, “hi” and returned his smile but walked away a little defeated.

Why had I assumed his impression of me was disappointing and let it hold me back? What was it that kept from flashing my pearly whites and returning a flirty smile?

Just as I was pondering my predicament I saw a man cross the street. His high buttoned collar, suit, tie, and big glasses immediately left me assuming he was a nerd. O U C H! We all crave to assign labels onto others. None of us are without fault! 

Who am I

Why are we so quick to judge? What’s the end goal?

Our desire to label and categorize each person we see displays how close minded we have become. How can we change that? After digging deep into why I was feeling this way, I realized it was rooted in insecurity. When I’m not grounded and standing firm in my beliefs, I tend to hold my real personality back.

The struggle begins where we allow our thoughts to go. I’ve recently started reading “Crashing the Chatterbox” by Steve Furtick, thanks to my good friend Cori, and the wisdom of scripture and perspective has radically reshaped how I spend my time and what thoughts consume me. Here are two highlights from the book that I’ll share in today’s blog:

                “When we allow our thoughts to go unchecked, a steady drip of lies cements the wrong patterns within our minds, building a Berlin Wall of bad beliefs.”

                “When lies are not confronted, callings are not fulfilled. How many contributions that God created you to make for His glory are still wrapped in your good intentions because they’ve been neutralized by spiritual hesitation?”

This book is full of lines that challenge and inspire you, saturated with thirst-quenching wisdom.  I don’t have all the answers but I do know that the more of God’s Word I drink in, the more of the world dispels from my thought life. What are we feeding ourselves? Is it negativity and judgement of others? Is it world-wide acceptance and oblivion? Or is it Wisdom and Love that encourages our true, special identity in Christ? 

In the opening story, my habit of judging others was projected on someone before I even met them. I automatically assumed they thought like I did. If my thinking was loving and open-minded, I could have made a friend that day. What is holding us back from our true potential?

Do you know how God, your creator, sees you?

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How I Lost 30lbs Accidently: Misconceptions and Inspirations

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates

The perception of my body image and weight has been a struggle all my life. I was never a “skin and bones” kid and that alone made me feel fat. When I transitioned to High school (which came with its own battles,) I began to eat out of boredom. We’ve all been there. Nothing wrong with a little snack once in a while – but I found myself eating to stay focused. I grew more insecure and reserved (certainly not the real Ashley!)

My weight loss journey really started with my mom. She took action and decided to ditch the diets and hit the gym. My mother will always be an inspiration to me in how she sets her mind on a mission and doesn’t get side tracked until it’s accomplished. Wow. (Read her short testimony, here! It’s inspirational.)

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My mom and I on May 10, 2015

When the reality sunk in that my mom was about to me smaller than me (and more in shape!) I said, “Heck no!” The summer of my sophomore year in High school I went to the gym every day and in 9 months went from a size 14 to a size 6. I had never felt better.

But school started back up and as my schedule filled, staying fit became less of a priority.. (Tune in on Wednesday to see how I’ve arrived to where I am now!)

Looking around you think.. she’s got everything

Uncategorized

First off, I must say, forgive me for the long blog hiatus. In the crazy whirlwind of moving to the city, making my first apartment a home, teaching full time, and interning with a Christian non-profit in Chicago you could say I’ve had my hands full. I’ve been writing blogs for Empower Chicago and usually all my “revelation” is posted there. This however, is a not-so-spiritual outlook and I figured it would be more appropriate to be read here, amongst peers and supporters. (Thanks for reading by the way!!)

I have had the Little Mermaid’s song “Part of Your World” stuck in my head for a week. Ask my coworkers, apparently I’ve been singing it for that long, too. (whoops.)

While in the middle of humming the lyrics, “Flippin’ your fins, you don’t get too far..” I immediately saw how the character, Ariel, was comparing her life to an unknown one and believing it to be better than her own.

Friends, we are plagued by this “grass is greener on the other side” mentality every day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stepped away from friendships because they have become so consumed with materials or social status. Life is about exploring, relationships, and shouldn’t depend on what we have or others have. Life is not about looking Pinterest perfect or how many likes you got on the thousandth selfie you posted on Instagram.

As this obsession grows in our culture I’ve been drawn to becoming more simplistic in my way of living. (Granted, my simplifying things could be complicating it for others.) It’s the little things we do that show where our priorities are. Sometimes, you don’t have to look picture perfect before stepping out of the house. We live in a world where no one is perfect. And in my case, if you live in Chicago, everyone is a little weird. Even the girl on the train sporting her Michael Kors bag and Hunter rain boots.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been using the time I’d normally be doing my makeup or hair in the morning and adding 15 minutes to spend time with the Lord. It’s not a big amount but it helps me focus on who is really in control of this day. It’s not me. It’s not others. God is my center.

We all can lose our focus and think if we just had a little larger salary, we’d be able to really make an impact. Then things would be better. But what if you get that job and you work with people you despise to sit around all day? There is no perfect job other than the one you’re meant to do. And even then, every day is a choice. Yes, dare to dream! But don’t compare and imagine it to be perfect. We’re human. *laughs* We’ll never be perfect.

If you are not happy in the now with what you have,

When will you be satisfied?

“Looking around here you think
Sure, she’s got everything

I’ve got gadgets and gizmos a-plenty
I’ve got whozits and whatzits galore
You want thingamabobs?
I’ve got twenty!

But who cares?
No big deal
I want more

Flippin’ your fins, you don’t get too far..”