This is my story – the end and beginning.
Updated: Feb 24, 2021
I was excited, not to begin classes, but for a sense of independence. For the first time, I was not known to anyone as the “pastor’s kid” or the “missionary kid.” I was just Ashley – one freshman among many. It was a new beginning and free reign to be whoever I wanted.
My paths crossed with a boy who had a similar background. His family was also living overseas as missionaries. We started dating and I began to hang out with his circle of friends.
I made many foolish, even dangerous, choices that I knew went directly against God.
How could I? I was taught right from wrong. I knew what the Bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works…” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God began to show me that, though I knew those words intellectually, I didn’t truly understand them in my heart. I could admit sin, but reasoned that I was a good girl overall. I knew the Bible stories. I did Christian things. I even served time on the mission field! What did I really need saved from?
How could I make such a sharp turn from all that represented my upbringing? I could because my revealed heart desire was not for God, but for myself. I wanted a genie God – to receive good things, but still do what I wanted. By the end of that year, I was a shattered mess. I believed lies of worthlessness and being beyond repair that were spoken to me and that I told myself. What I didn't know yet was that brokenness can be a great gift.
That year wasn’t just a “bad season” or a “little phase of rebellion.” It was the climatic breaking point - a God-given understanding that the greatest threat I had faced was not others or the potential consequences of my actions. My greatest danger was the sin that had always been within me. For the first time I understood exactly what I needed saved from and God used that brokenness to bring me to Him.
I can’t give you the date of when Jesus rescued me, but that moment was the beginning of the end. It was the end of me and the beginning of a new heart beating for Him.
There is a song by Lauren Daigle with the line, “You take what is, and You make it beautiful.” It’s true. If you see anything in my life that you think of as “good” or “beautiful,” it is of God. I can’t take credit. Following Jesus is wonderful but hard. For the rest of my life, I will struggle against the desire to have my own way. But, with a Love that never stops pursuing, He is always working on, correcting, changing, and making me more like Him.
I met and married Eric shortly after Jesus saved me. You can read a bit of our story here. God gave us the privilege of raising three wonderful boys. Every day with them is a blessing and challenge as I am reminded of how much I still/will always need Jesus!
What happens next in this story? Only God knows. We've had incredibly sweet and wonderful moments. We've had and are walking through hard times. God proves Himself over and over again to this woman who struggles so much to keep the faith when her eyes can't see.
Whatever happens, I can dance on the mountain tops and walk dark valleys because I don't go alone.
You see, my story isn’t really mine at all…
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:4-5