God is Love.
Ok, so this is really for my benefit more than anyone else’s, but I just want to try this out and see how it goes. The purpose of me doing this is so that I’ll eventually become more comfortable with sharing my testimony and talking to others about my faith and even my daily struggles. It’s super hard for me to open up in the first place, but I figured it would be easier to start out just blogging about it at first rather than try to talk to people face to face. So I guess I should start by telling you about me.
I’m Ashley. I turn 24 next Wednesday and I have a twin brother. My parents are both alive and well and happily married. I grew up in a loving home and was always given the opportunity to go to Church and read the Bible. I was spoiled rotten and always had more than I ever needed. My parents are awesome and I am probably undeserving of them 99.9% of the time. I sometimes attended church, especially if my friends were going but I can’t say that I ever read more than a verse or two at a time from the Bible, or that I ever prayed on a daily basis or ever even really knew God and what he was all about it. I just never got it. I thought everything my parents provided me was more than I ever needed. I never imagined it would take me until now to really figure it out. When I was 14 and a freshman in high school, one of my best friends unexpectedly died. And since I really didn’t know God or understand his love, I couldn’t understand how he could do this to me or to Tyler, who was and still is to this day one of the kindest and most intelligent people I’ve ever met in my life. I continued going to church, I’m ashamed to say why but if I’m really being honest with myself it was mostly because there was free food and all my friends went. I just kept getting further and further away from God. By the time I went to college I was in a really bad place. I really didn’t have anything to do with church or God unless I felt like I needed something and then I would pray. Even though I had gone to counseling, I had never really gotten over Tyler’s death or dealt with it and the fact that I never got to tell him goodbye and there was a huge hole in my heart that I couldn't fill. Believe me I tried. Almost everything, but it never went away. No matter how much I drank or how many friends and boyfriends I had and all the parties I went to that ache was always there. And the one constant in my life, softball came to an end for me too after my sophomore year. My shoulder had been bothering me and I had done numerous MRI’s and been to countless doctor appointments and all of them said they couldn't find anything. They finally decided to just do an arthroscopic procedure and clean up some scar tissue and minor things since it was causing me so much pain. Once they started the operation, they discovered that I had torn my labrum and had a partial tear in my rotator cuff so they went ahead and fixed that. It never healed properly and I ended up quitting softball and after some differences with my parents, I eventually ended up moving back to Franklin and going to Sam Houston to finish college. The one thing I had always been good at it, even though I put in practically no effort was now gone too. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was miserable. I got a degree in General Studies just so I could get out of school. I had no goals in life and I was working at the hotel in Franklin. My life was going nowhere. I then got into a bad relationship which I stayed in for far too long, about 2 ½ years before I finally realized that it wasn’t good and decided to get out. By this time I was 23 years old. Thankfully I had managed to get a better job at Guaranty Title Company which I still work at, but now I felt more alone than ever and on top of everything, I hated myself. My life was starting to fall apart all around me and no matter what I did, I couldn't keep it together. In May, actually the day after mother’s day weekend (I remember because I was hungover and had decided that I was too busy to go with my parents to my Mimi’s house) my grandma was put in the hospital because of her congestive heart failure and ended up never coming back home. She died August 3, but the few months she was in the hospital was a constant battle. Of course, me being the selfish person I was and am didn't make enough trips to go see her. Even the night before she died, I decided I would wait until the following day to go see her and I never got that chance. At her funeral, my cousin Melissa spoke and was talking about how fervently she was praying for us calling us each out by name. That hurt me worse than anything. Here she was dying and she was praying for me and everyone else in our family and I couldn't even take the time to come see her the night before because it was an inconvenience to me. She was an amazing example of what it means to me to be a Christian but sadly it took her dying for me to realize this. That hole in my heart when Tyler had died was now bigger and hurt more than ever. I was so lost in my own hurt that had built up over the past 10 years. I couldn’t deal with it anymore; I had tried to fill my heart with everything other than looking to God. I knew something seriously had to change in my life. I can’t even begin to describe the way I felt but I was so desperate to make this go away I would have done anything. Everything I had tried up to this point was only a temporary fix that really didn’t fix anything. In reality all the temporary fixes just made things worse. But anyways, one morning at work we were all sitting at the front of the office and Linda was talking about AWANA’s and asking Heather if she wanted to help and Samantha and I somehow ended up asking her about it and then told her we wanted to help out. We also started asking her about church and Sunday School and what time they started and decided we were going to start going. Well it just so happened to be a Wednesday and the major planning meeting for AWANA’s was that afternoon so we went to that and got all signed up for the following week when it started. We went home that night so excited about volunteering but somehow that night I got distracted from my new purpose and I’m ashamed to say I got so drunk that I couldn't even remember everything that happened the night before and on top of everything I was late to work. All that day I felt overwhelmed with guilt and I was so ashamed of myself and I felt like the biggest hypocrite in the world. That was the first time I ever consciously remember thinking to myself that I didn't want to live this way anymore. I just felt like I had a pointless life. Every day I came to work and just made it through and couldn't wait to go home and drink beer. And then I couldn't wait for the weekend so I could drink and not have to worry about waking up in the morning for work on time. Going to the meeting for AWANA’s was the first time in a LONGGGGGG time that I had actually felt like my life had a purpose and that I had something to look forward to. So anyways I was just miserable most of that day and couldn't figure out what to do about it. I’m still not even sure why but something inside me was telling me to text Toby and ask him what was baptism for. He texted me back and asked if he could call me and I told him that I would call him after work. I was nervous and excited and scared all at the same time. I had no idea what he was about to tell me but this felt like a new beginning to me. As soon as it was 5 o’clock I was out the door and calling Toby. We ended up talking for almost an hour and I remember being so amazed that he was so interested in me and had time for me and cared so much about me even when he hardly knew me anymore. I hadn't had a conversation with him in years. He answered all the questions I had and told me he was getting me a study Bible and would bring it to me tomorrow and that we would talk more. Before he got off the phone with me he prayed with and for me. I was still confused but I could tell that I felt differently. I had hope and the pain was less than it had been before and I didn't feel so guilty anymore. Little did I know but Carrie had come over to borrow a shirt from Samantha. Now I don’t even remember what started our conversation but we ended up talking about God and her experience at 220 and random other God things for hours. Here was this 17 year old high school girl sitting with us talking about God for hours when she could have been hanging out with her friends at the JV football game. At 17, there was no doubt where I would have been given the option and it definitely wasn't talking to people about God. I will never be able to thank her enough for that night. She saved me. That night she prayed with me and I accepted Jesus as my Savior for the first time in my life when I really meant it with all my heart. I wanted to live for Him. All these years of living for myself had gotten me nowhere. I will never forget that day. It was August 29, 2013.
Well that’s pretty much my abbreviated life story and since I got saved I’m not claiming by any means to be perfect or even a good Christian. I still struggle every day with getting rid of all the bad influences that I have allowed in my life over time. My hardest struggle is forgiving myself because the more I read my Bible the more I am ashamed of the way I was living and I would give anything in the world to be able to take it all back and go back to high school or even middle school and change the way that I had lived my life and the kind of example I had been for others. I had so much talent that God had given me, both intellectually and athletically that I just wasted by doing the bare minimum I could to get by. The only reason I played college softball was because my parents told me I could either play softball or get a job. I’ve been to church and Sunday School and Breakaway for the past two weeks and I am amazed at how many young kids there are who are following Christ and able to open their heart to Him and accomplish such amazing things at such a young age when it took me forever to even figure out how much love God had for me that he had been longing for me to feel and accept all this time. Another reason I’m writing this is because as much as I can I want everything I say and do to reflect Christ and if it doesn't I want people to hold me accountable and help me get back on the right track. This past Sunday I publicly accepted Christ during the invitation and I am planning on getting baptized on September 22. I’m amazed at how much my life has already changed and how much better I feel. I still have bad days and I definitely struggle constantly but there’s just no greater feeling than knowing there is a God and that he wants nothing more than for you to be a part of his Kingdom and that he wants nothing but the best for you and that he loves you unconditionally and more than you can ever imagine.