Humble Beginnings/Restarts

Challenge & Revelation, Life updates

I made a few decisions in the past year that I am not proud of. I negated the strong choices I made for my life as a youth and growing Christian. At that time, I was listening to the wise counsel around me and absorbing all that I could. But as I grew calloused to those words and my heart wasn’t being fed with Truth, I stepped away from those choices.

One of those choices came back around the other day and revealed to me how much of a hypocrite I was being. I knew I was but I didn’t want evidence to prove it. And there it was, in full color. Dang.

The past 9 months have been an insecure time for me. I didn’t like that I felt so alone and I also wasn’t trusting God with my future. Part of me figured I needed to go look for the man I was supposed to be with. The most stupid part of this was that if I hadn’t made the decision to go on the first date, a lot would have been avoided. The hurt, the insecurity, the pushing farther away from the only One who could heal my heart.

I remember giving tidbits to my dad as I explained how frustrated I was with my dating journey. I felt like I had let him down. He shrugged it off and said, “Ashley, I was praying for you, especially this season in your life. And I just felt like God was saying He was protecting you from a lot of men who didn’t have good intentions.” Part of me agreed, and part of me scoffed but boy, was he right! As he began to talk about his dreams for my future husband, the knot in my stomach tightened. “I can be happy without a guy..” I began, spouting off what I had already known but had yet to hear someone tell me as I pushed onto the path of “Do-it-myself.” Believe it or not, that was the moment I knew I was done with dating. No more playing with fire. I didn’t need it or these Bosos that kept trying to butt into my life.

So here I am, a humbled 22 year old girl, a little wiser, a little hurt. I found out someone I was seeing had a girlfriend – while we were dating. I immediately grew furious. Then I took a breather and said, “Wait. You lied more than he did. He didn’t fess up to the truth, but he mentioned and you ignored it. He asked if you were friends or more and you hesitated. You knew in your heart friends but you didn’t want to lose him if it wasn’t what he wanted. Once again, you changed yourself so someone else would like you. You’re the hypocrite. For saying you would stand tall and then crumbled when the actions called to be taken.”

I began to get discouraged. I felt like how I imagined Samson felt after he looked back at some of the stupid decisions he made. “I set myself apart for something better! I made God-honoring decisions to only throw them away later! How do I get that honor back? How do I stir up my hunger for God again when I feel like I have been so distant for so long?” I could have let the enemy defeat me right there but then I remembered something I read in Craig Groeschel’s book, Fight. (Later realized it’s a guys’ book, but hey, we’re all warriors. And it’s Craig Groeschel! Win win.) God graced Samson with his gift, even after every time he dishonored God. What does that tell me? That each time I turn back and say, “God, I was wrong. Those actions didn’t honor you and I don’t like what was in my heart. Please refine that part of me and make me more like you.” He gives me grace and mercy, erasing all memory of my mistakes and renewing my blessing and call to serve Him. One of Groeschel’s deep thoughts continued, “Samson gave into his emotions instead of God’s leading. He lunged after immediate gratification instead of obeying God. And he lost sight of his blind spots: which ultimately cost him his sight. (Judges 14:8-9) The only reason Samson kept making mistakes was because he kept going back to where he shouldn’t be.

 

So where are you supposed to be? Do you know?

I reflected on this for a while and remembered the vows I had made about how I wanted to live my life. I was in awe of how God protected me from it all but I didn’t know where to start taking steps back towards Him. So I picked up my Bible. I talked to God (even though it felt so hard!) I began to check out Christian books from the library, whatever I could get my hands on. I reached out to community groups in my church, to build a network of other believers around me. These decisions didn’t fall into my lap, they were steps I chose to make. Just like the ones I regretted, but these had passion and conviction behind them.

I hope my story encourages you. Those people who spoke wisdom into your life that you’re ignoring? Don’t ignore it. It will save you a lot of pain and time. Those vows you made? Stick to them. Even when they seem out-of-date with the choices everyone else around you is making. We get knocked down, but we get up again. Each day, God makes us new. The old is gone. The past is the past, but God is calling us to a higher standard. Christians = Christ-like, right? How are you reflecting Christ to others?

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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?