2 years ago. If you would have put me in an empty room with a boombox, I swear I could have danced for hours. When I heard music, I saw movement instantly. Figures would began moving in my head. I could tell you if it was a solo, duet, group choreo; it was high key  AMAZING. I saw the moves, angles, formations, placements, visuals as if I was on the front row watching the show. I could dance all day. And that’s what I did. At one point of my college career, I was in three dance organizations. The co captain of a dance team, choreographer in another organization, and committed member in the last. I was maybe dancing at least 6 days a week. Along with a full load of classes. But dance was who I was. My passion. So I thought.

PARADIGM SHIFT IN 3..2..1..

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I gave the Lord complete reign over my life at the end of 2015. How I saw the world, our world, shifted. It was like a backdrop was torn in half and what was really happening behind the scenes was revealed. I had to know more. I was thirsty for truth. I needed to know that I was living my life “right”, and I use that word in quotation marks because…well…you’ll see why later.

Imagine this. There’s a big test you have to take in 24 hours. You have not studied at all. This test literally determines your future. And others’ around you. What are you going to do?

Most would say study. (I’m with ya pal). If you didn’t say study, umm, just come along with me.

If you’re studying, you remove all distractions in order to focus because the human race is depending on you,  right? Get alone. Silence the TV, Dre Beats, etc. Stop doing anything that doesn’t glorify the Lord.

Wait whet?

Ohhhh yeaaaa see that was added because that’s what I did. My dance life, in my opinion, in no way glorified the Lord and was a distraction to this new truth seeking process.

LORD GOOD. ARTS BAD.

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It just so happened that a lot of things I liked, according to YouTube (lol), was the devil’s playground. Goodness Ash, what is wrong with you.

I felt like my by-default sinful nature had ran rampant and no part of me was good. Anything after that 2015 point that I was naturally drawn to must be destroyed or silenced. My passion for the arts was on that list.

Okay wait Ash, what about praise dance?? Reenactments of Jesus’ life during Christmas?? Poetry about the Lord??  

Calm down people let me finish my post (haha).

I was not involved in any of that. I did mostly hip hop dance, some african here and there, and made a point to learn other styles. And I danced to some very raunchy music, but my argument was that I just enjoyed the beat.

It wasn’t just dance I turned my face away from, but any form of expression that did not outwardly say “Jesus is Lord, You are my universe”, I could NOT get with AT ALL. I stopped going to plays. I stopped watching movies. I stopped watching Spongebob LOL. I stopped listening to music, but the same 10 songs on repeat. Hopefully you’re getting the picture of how drastic of measures I was taking.

Side Note: Any new believers out there reading this? Stay away from YouTube. Until you are confident in the Lord’s voice, stay away from YouTube please. Thank me later lol

Anywhooooo

I felt…guilty. About everything I enjoyed. So to prove to the Lord He was really first in my life, I stopped everything. I wanted to align my desires with His as the scriptures would say. I felt the weight of the world in a sense that I needed to be perfect in order to reach the lost souls/ free of all worries because truth had come to realization in my life and I was satisfied.

MISINTERPRETATION 

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It went from silencing all distractions to get closer to the Lord to the process being translated into all dance was not good and any form of expression for any purpose other than glorifying Jesus was of Satan. That’s. It. And I still believe this statement, just in a much different way now. But that is another post. I became very judgmental as you would imagine and pretty close minded. I had completely lost the urge to dance again.

But one day I heard the song Oceans by Hillsong. This was probably in March or May of 2016, I really can’t remember. Just know that I was extra late on knowing who Hillsong even was.

I listened through my earphones while walking to get something to eat and I stopped in my tracks. That was the first song I had heard in months that ever made me feel like dancing again. I instantly saw the images moving in my mind again and this feeling started flowing through me. After I heard the song and basically saw a routine in my head, I honestly thought I was losing it. I pressed play again and the same thing happened. I thought it had left. That feeling of wanting to move. I was confused.

I wanted to cry. I thought I had messed something up and not prayed hard enough. I needed to pray harder so that this internal battle wouldn’t consume me. I tried to keep myself away from listening to that song, but I could not. I played it over and over and over and everytime that feeling did not fail to return. What is happening Lord? Why have you put me in a body determined to reject what is right?

UNDERSTANDING

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After long nights of prayer, it had become apparent that my interpretation was obviously a little off. Dance was a gift that the Lord had bestowed upon me. I was not to abandon it, but seek the Lord on how to go about using it. And all of the other forms of art I used to express myself in. The Lord had given me all of these gifts for the glory of His Kingdom. But in the legalistic manner I had taken with it, it was not the point I thought He was trying to express to me.

There have been a couple of times I have performed since then. I can’t even explain the euphoric feeling that goes through my veins on stage or the joy when I am one with a song. ESPECIALLY since it has been done for the glory of my Father.

I’ll be honest. I still can’t tell you I know completely what I am doing. And even in September of 2017, I battle with the idea of dance in my life even though it flows so naturally through my being. I can’t tell you if this particular artist is really of God or has strayed completely. I can’t tell you if rated R movies will send you to Hell or give you a clearer picture of how perfect our Father really is. I am in an in-between place in my life right now, but I can assure you I follow the sweet Holy Spirit that never fails me even when flesh Ashley is confused.

If I didn’t have a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I would definitely still have the Lord in that box I wanted Him to stay in. Knowing that the Lord is truly limitless, I can put no restraints on His will or how He sees fit to make the world turn. All I know is that through my time of being near Him, He is one who wants the best for His children, even if it means being in uncomfortable places for a season.

To God be the Glory

Raise your hand if you’re from the South.

Raise your hand if you grew up going to church more than once a week.

Raise your hand if the main concept  you held onto was to avoid hell at all costs.

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Here we go. The awkward stuff. Haha. But trust me. It won’t get too deep. This post is dedicated to the in betweeners/walk the liners/the juuusssstttttt enoughers. Basically, tight roping the line of sin. I used to be that way. Honestly, when I find myself not praying and reading regularly, I end up back in that area. I am just thankful that now I am able to snap back with the HELP of the Holy Spirit, and not in my own doing.

MY INTERPRETATION OF A GOOD CHRISTIAN

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DON’T SIN.

DAS IT.

And when I say sin, I mean don’t have sex and get pregnant. That was the big one. The unredeemable sin. I felt like I was doing great if I was making all A’s and avoiding boys. I hit the mark. The Lord will definitely honor my sacrifice right?

EHH. A LITTLE SIN WON’T HURT

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But just like any other sin, it became difficult to just avoid. Especially if it’s just sitting in your face taunting you.

So I indulged in other things that I felt wouldn’t condemn me forever you know?

The “typical Christian college student” things.

Get drunk. Party. Get high a few times. The experimental piercings. And push the line of sex. Meaning, be all kinds of sexually immoral without intercourse.

I was at the point of where I wanted to be dedicated to the Lord but I wanted to “live the college life” too. So I did everything that satisfied my flesh. I would hear of my friends’ wild adventures and feel torn. How can I stay that “church girl” and have fun?

That question. That thought. It is what keeps many younger people from fully giving themselves to the Lord. It is what kept me from fully giving myself away.

FOMO- FEAR OF MISSING OUT

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After a while, the parties got old. I hated getting to the point of a “situationship” with a guy and knew the topic of sex would come up and I would have to end it. It was weird that the only way I could enjoy these social events, I had to be under the influence. I knew that I would have to exchange things for temporary happiness, and I got tired of it.

I thought that giving my life to Christ meant saying good bye to all of what I knew and made me kinda happy. I didn’t know what was on the other side, so I was scared. There were plenty of older people who seemed “fake happy” in the church and I thought that’s what I was signing up for. I knew it was the good thing to do, but I didn’t want to be sad doing it. I didn’t want to get in the swing of traditional Christian lifestyle then end up coming out of it because I wasn’t happy or fulfilled. I especially didn’t want my decision to essentially flip flop affect those watching me. I was just…lost and confused.

So.

I leaped. And I was scared out of my mind.

THE UNPOPULAR DECISION

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Some people thought I was radical. Some people applauded me for my “bravery”. Some people thought I was unreasonable and close minded. My family thought I was going to be a nun.

Despite what everyone thought

That leap was the scariest and most beautiful jump in my life. I gave Him all of me and honestly saw things with new eyes. It felt like I breathed new air. Jesus offered me an invitation and I took it.

No more straddling the fence. No more “well, this sin isn’t that bad”. Or “He knows my heart”. I was all in. And my life has been forever changed.

Now some can read this and argue what the Lord says biblically about certain acts or if something is sin or not. I’m not here to condemn or judge. I only changed with the intimacy of my relationship with Jesus. We can argue the Bible all day (which should not be done). But there are certain things that just didn’t feel right after I was changed. And what that meant for me is probably or probably not the same for you.

So if you’ve ever been or are at this point in your life. Just leap. Everything that’s happening to you is not a coincidence or you even reading this is not by a mistake. You will be surprised at how much the Lord wants to reveal to you and you only. Be encouraged. It won’t be the easiest. But it’s all worth it.

 

To God be the Glory