I was around 15 years old. I had bought this yellow blouse with black roses swirled at different angles. “Hmm very elegant”, I thought, “Yet casual enough to be worn with skinny leg jeans.” I felt like a Queen in it. I was surely the bomb.com. And get this, this blouse was so beautiful to me that I vowed to never even wear it until my first date. Yea….I know lol. I had it placed on a velvet hanger at a specific end in my closet so that none of my other “not so worthy” apparel would ruin it. I marveled at it everyday. My mom told me I wasn’t allowed to go on a date until I was 16, so I was hopeful that in a few months that my most precious blouse would be put to use and I would be on that first magical date.

16 came.

And went.

No boy had asked me out yet. And honestly, I was devastated. That once beautiful blouse that I kept preserved was now a haunting reminder of the date I never went on.

Fairytales… or Reality

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I guess you can say I was a nerd in high school, and I don’t say that as a defecit to my social character. I was a really happy nerd honestly haha =] I had friends and I had fun with said friends. But my favorite place was the library. Talk about a world of possibilities!! I wasn’t reading Harry Potter or the other huge Bible sized novels. I was reading teenage high school romance novels of awkward girls miraculously, through the stumbles of falling books in the hallways, getting the attention of THAT guy. The one everyone wanted.

Okay, I definitely read other genres. I was a big fan of random facts about the world. But those were the books that captivated my attention the most.

Back to the awkward girl. That image of the least likely being chosen was fascinating to me! Goodness, it was almost addicting. Those books gave me hope that one day, I will be that girl that turned heads of the top tier attractive. I was convinced that once I turned 16 that everyone would know that the rule my mom gave me was expired and I was on the market.

When the reality set in that those were just fictional characters and made up stories, a deep sadness swept over me. How can I make what I read a reality?

I’ll Be Fine

There was a certain part of me that wanted to stand in the hallway and say “pick me!”. Then there was another part of me that said “Where is your dignity?”. Then there was another part of me that I hated to listen to, “The Lord has someone special for you.”

BOOOOOO

All terrible choices in my high school brain.

The Roaming Heart

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So which part of myself did I listen to? You guessed it. Neither voice. I settled for whatever attention came my way. I thought “some attention is better than none.”

And it didn’t matter if that attention was from social media (I had a myspace boyfriend yall, so embarrassing) , from guys I knew had no good intentions, from older men, etc. I had a roaming heart and I wanted to be chosen. I wanted someone to look at me and think, “Yep, you’re worth it.”

SKKKRRRRR. You hear that car wreck coming? Yeah, not a good set up to put your worth in men. Nothing good will come from it. Nothing good did come from it. Besides tears and heartache and confusion.

And I think the part that frustrated me the most was that most of these guys were guys who proclaimed to be Christian men. I was confused. But I didn’t realize at that time neither one of us had an actual relationship with the Lord, we were just church goers.

My self esteem was shot. I would win academic awards all the time, accolade after accolade, get invited to fancy dinners because of my accomplishments, and I was even  valedictorian of my high school class. But the craziest part of it all, I would have traded everything to say I had a boyfriend. Yeah it was bad. Crazy even.

Unexpected Solution

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You ever struggle with something so long that you literally accept this will be your daily fight until the end? I got to college and accepted the fact I would never feel complete if I did not have a boyfriend. I was extremely involved and had a lot of fun, but at the end of the day I was disappointed by the lack of interested guys texting or calling me.

Well fast forward, I eventually gave my life to Christ forreal this time December 2015, but I didn’t think much would change besides me going to heaven now (smh, sooooooooooooooooo much more God has for us) Let me tell you how I know God is real. I gave up EVERYTHING in my life that I did not think lined up with His word. I removed dance, parties, alcohol, hints of sexual immorality, music, and the list goes on (to clarify, I separated myself from these things to look into what the Lord said about them). I replaced these things with the study of His word, day and night. When I gave these things up to walk with the Lord, the desire disappeared. THE DESIRE DISAPPEARED. That longing for a boyfriend, a date, etc. , it vanished. Yall, I knew in that moment He was real. How was it that the feeling that loomed over and inside of me for years could leave with a snap of a finger. I felt full. I felt COMPLETE. I thought I was fooling myself to be honest. But this peace remained constant over me and I was able to look at female/male relationships so much more differently and analytically. I couldn’t believe it. Still pretty shocked.

It’s 2018 and I will not lie as if this battle does not try to peek its ugly head back in. The Lord is still carving things out of me and I still have to be intentional about what I speak over myself. Sometimes we fall into the trap of only doing what it takes to be delivered but not being faithful and walking out that deliverance. It’s not easy to believe that you’re fearfully and wonderfully made if for years you believed the opposite. But it’s POSSIBLE. How bad do you want to be free from your own mind? It looks different for everyone, but the bottom line is Jesus.

If you resonated with any of this and/or are dealing with these current feelings, talk to someone. This is hard, I know. But the other side of freedom is available for you.

To God be the Glory

Have you ever looked someone in the eyes and… shuttered? Almost as if they were looking into your soul? Goodness, if you haven’t, let me tell you – What a naked and vulnerable feeling. The common, immediate response is to look away. Drop the eye contact. Hide yourself again. Justify the disconnection you just made by running through the files of memories you’re convinced could surely scare anyone away. But maybe it didn’t happen like that for you? Maybe it was in the process of getting to know someone else. Thankfully, this is not an experience solely limited to romantic relationships either. The idea of being fully known can be a scary one. But in this season, the Lord has been challenging me to keep the eye contact and take deep breaths through the uncomfortable shutters.

To

Hey you! You continued reading. This means that you can either relate, are confused but kind of curious or you are probably nosey. Okay I was joking on the last one haha but just know you were supposed to be reading this at the time you were and I am glad you are here.

Now.

How did I get here in the first place

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We all have secrets. We all have a past. And there has been a point in everyone’s lives where something about us has been revealed and not received well at all. In a nutshell, we have all been rejected for something that we have genuinely portrayed. The damage could have been done in social settings, from your parents/caregivers, significant others, the list goes on. This rejection, if not dealt with, can manifest into some really messed up communication patterns and relationships. That’s what happened to me. I became clever at showcasing who I knew for sure would be accepted and only allowed maybe one or two people to see the unfiltered me. (Let us not fall into the trap of having the demeanor of “Everyone doesn’t deserve the real me!”. You owe it to yourself and your calling to be authentically who you are wherever you are. And of course, wisdom in all of your actions)

Wasn’t til about 2016 (the year I gave all of myself to the Lord) that random instances happened where I felt as if someone was getting to know me way better than my comfort level was allowing. I seriously held everyone at arm’s length and wasn’t even aware. Even my community at the time. Yea we definitely prayed for each other and the Holy Spirit would reveal things to those in prayer for me, making me feel exposed and seen, but I limited those experiences to ONLY when someone was in prayer for me.

 Y’all not expecting me to live this way 24/7 are you?? Feeling naked? And seen. And..exposed. Ha. No thanks.  

I mean, biblically, I understood the value in community, but it was not until about two months ago the Lord BLEW my mind as to how necessary community really was/is.

Be

What does it look like to just “be”

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Ready for a quick praise report? So this will definitely be another in depth post, so no worries, but from the month of November to my birth month of February, I set a goal to lose 30 pounds. And I did! Silly me for thinking that that process was just a physical transformation. My weight was/is connected to so much more than my appreciation of sweet treats.

As glorious as this victory was, I was still sitting in bits of shame. I had made a weird verbal commitment to myself to not share about my weight loss until I was about 50 pounds down. I was so scared to let people in my life and in the cyber world know what I used to weigh. I wanted to be as far away from that number as possible. It represented so much shame for me.

This is where the subject of community came back in. I would update people in my community periodically about the weight I was losing every week, but I would never tell them the actual number on the scale. But one of my friends asked me one day what was it holding me back from just expressing the number when the number was obviously changing weekly. “I don’t know, it’s just weird. It’s no one’s business.”

I’m scared that the weight will come back and I will let everyone down

I’m scared that if men really knew how much I weighed, I would be deemed as unattractive/undesirable

I’m scared to admit that I feel as though I have messed up what the Lord meant as fearfully and wonderfully made

Woo. Let’s take a moment. That was a lot. But that was how I felt. The raw and honest truth I did not mutter but felt gnawing at my shield of protection.

But! Crazy thing is…I pressed in and said it. I even told my friend what my starting weight was and I will tell you guys because thankfully I am not bound to the shame of those numbers anymore. I was at my heaviest weight Summer of 2017 at 313 pounds. Like WHET. But I had reached 268 pounds by my birthday in February. (Still working on another goal and my weight is fluctuating, but I’ll keep you guys posted.) After I had revealed my weight, the rejection/disappointment/disgust I was expecting never came.

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Wow God. So this is why community is important. We literally experience your love through others. Your relentless, healing love.

Fully

But…aren’t there risks to being my full self?

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This freedom I got a taste of left me in awe of the Lord. The only thing I would have to exchange would be myself or “bad” parts about myself that I wanted to keep hidden. Talk about a word vomit season. There has not been a time in my life I have been so forthcoming about struggles and lessons I am currently learning. Even while I am typing this blog now. I love to share about what I have already mastered before I present it. But I will tell y’all, this stuff is HARD and I am so lost most days. I still run from the Lord’s love on some days because being in healthy relationship with people is hard and demands a part of yourself that does not have the right to be protected anymore. It’s exhausting some days, but the fruit connected to being fully who you are is so worth it.

I had to let go of the fear of risks that pertain to:

  • Not being perceived as having it all together
  • The judgment of other Christians who opinions I truly value
  • The Lord seeing so much of me that He turns away (Psalms 139- He will never stop chasing you and you can never leave His presence)

There are probably more that just did not cross my mind in this moment of time, but these are definitely the big ones.

Known

Once you’re known, freedom is available to you

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In some of my current classes, we have discussed when taking a look at the Bible one can conclude that knowledge is just about synonymous with love. You can find this terminology all up in 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 8:3 but if anyone loves God, he is known by Him), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…), and I can go on but I hope you are getting the picture. But this deep love that is spoken for is usually always tied to behavior, acts of love, and other signs that a deep relationship is present. And since I have stepped into this realm of freedom, I can testify that there is so much freedom tied to a relationship where you can be authentically you and loved and the same time. That understanding gave me such a different perspective for so many other things surrounding me. It made sense to me why it seemed that people close to me stayed in toxic relationships. Though toxic, usually the other person in the relationship knew them, flaws and all. I will admit that taking a risk to let that tangible relationship go if you have never felt that before is beyond scary. There’s this unspoken security with full knowledge, so it’s understandable. But that relationship cannot be at the price of your peace, by no means.

If you get nothing else from this, understand this and understand it quickly: MAN will fail you. The only perfect form you find of this love is having a relationship with Jesus. And if we’re being honest with ourselves, that’s really what’s happening everyday as we form these empty connections to address deeper issues. The loud voice telling you that you won’t even be good enough for that kind of love, SILENCE him now. Jesus pursues us without even having the expectation to be loved back the same or at all. Wouldn’t tell you this stuff if I haven’t tried it myself.

Yesterday, someone squinted their eyes and told me, “Ashley, you look cleansed.” I laughed. Then I said, “Yea, I’m free.” Believe the hype. It’s available to you too.

To God be the Glory

***What about you? Have you ever experienced being fully known?

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

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“Located on your left and right are EXIT signs illuminated in case of an emergency. When it is time to exit, please do swiftly and promptly.”

Not sure about you guys, but escape plans are comforting to me. To know I can escape when danger is imminent, near, approaching. Nothing is better for my over thoughtful and overly imaginative mind.

But unfortunately, there are no illuminated EXIT signs in everyday life interactions. Such as social situations that serve as a recipe for anxiety.

For those who are familiar with me may be a little surprised at that last statement. Ashley? Anxious? In social situations????? A social butterfly being anxious in social situations is a paradox.

Hello. My name is paradox. How are you?

I LOVE PEOPLE. AND CONTROL.

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I try not to be super repetitive in my posts, but for new readers (hey y’allll), I like to give a little background for context.

I’m a performer. Lover of the arts. Danced and acted in front of large crowds. Have given several speeches as well. In these situations, I am in control of how someone is viewing me. I can speak in a way that can manipulate specific emotions and so forth. I can sense what people want from me and can CHOOSE to give them that or not.

But in social situations where everything is pretty organic, it’s sometimes a hit or miss.

Okay let me be more clear.

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I graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. A predominantly white institution. So the black community became pretty familiar with each other pretty quickly. But whenever there were social events mainly just for us, such as a party, set, and especially a cookout, I felt consumed with anxiety. I never felt like I fit the mode. I was always self conscious about my weight, my hair, if so and so thought I looked attractive, if I should speak to x even though we’re not that cool but I don’t want them to think I’m “acting funny”. Stupid right? I wasn’t that comfortable with myself in the beginning. I thought I sucked at talking to boys. I felt really awkward and disconnected.

Basically

When my role is undefined in a social setting, I am anxious. Allowing people to think what they want without me providing a shield of defense, i.e. role, is pretty difficult for me.

But put me on a stage in front a crowd. And you would never know.

I HATE SMALL TALK

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Man. Small talk is something I honestly dread. But it is INDEED necessary. Lots of times, I just want to jump to the part of knowing someone’s insides and ways. Yes, patience is a virtue I am still trying to master.

Those who have met me would regard me as a pretty energetic and bubbly person. I love laughing and making friends. But there is a certain type of exhaustion that takes place when I have to pretend as though I am interested in something that I do not care for whatsoever. I just don’t like the part of the standard questions. How many siblings do you have? Where are you from? Get out of here, blue is my favorite color too! 

Again, I am in a position of allowing people to evaluate me without an established defense. First impressions about me are funny to hear about as time goes on, but the initial time of it happening makes me well….a little anxious if you have not guessed the pattern yet.

AFFECTIONATELY AWKWARD

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Control is the difficult part here as well. I enjoy love, like the next person. But in regards to showing it….Where is my EXIT sign!!??? I want to control when and how it is happening and that’s just…well….not how it works.

It is a very difficult process for me. The fear of rejection has been a huge part of my life, and it has been a process to uproot the spirit of fear out of my life. Deep down, it kills me to think people close to me would reject my love. So I choose not to really dig into that side of my life much.

*BTW. I’m being very honest in this post. And this fact makes me anxious haha*

I feel unsure in affectionate situations. I have been conditioned to believe I didn’t know how to “do it right”. Yea pray for me saints, I am a work in progress.

SO. HAVE YOU PRAYED ABOUT IT?

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Philippians 4:6-7

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Want to know something funny? But not really funny? I recently found out in my prayer life, while I was praying about my anxiety, that I unfortunately go before my Holy Father in anxiety as well. I try to push everything together quickly, and think of all the humans I have come in contact with to tell the Lord to protect them, and even more irrational anxious manners. I couldn’t believe it when the Holy Spirit revealed it to me. I rack my brain up with a list of things to tell God as if I am running out of time.

As if I only have a time limit with the Lord before He gets annoyed with me.

It crushed me to realize this.

Our Heavenly Father loves us and wants nothing more but to spend time with us.

I was angry to realize I had been putting the Lord in a category of regular humans who had rejected me.

In that prayer I just felt Him saying, “Slow Down. I’m Listening”.

I felt like a little girl who had scraped her knee, soon to get in trouble, so her only response was to quickly explain everything that that lead up to the injury.

But what kind of sense does that make? Would you punish your child for scraping her knee? The irrational fear of being pushed away for something I can’t control is something not only I struggle with, but several people I know and don’t know have bouts with it too. It almost makes me cringe to meet people with the same destructive habits as myself.

It’s hard to honestly believe at times, but God really does care about our anxious moments and the times we feel alone and the times we feel misplaced. I’m still trying to get it right myself, but be encouraged! God has placed His hand over me so many times with peace I couldn’t even understand. And it didn’t happen until I took the step to call out to Him. Allowing Him to love me through my fear ❤️

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

 

 

 

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I have heard some really great stories, read some awesome books, watched some amazing movies. But the plot would not be as engaging without a key ingredient.

Irony. Good ole irony.

And as entertaining as it is to see this term unfold in stories disconnected from us, it doesn’t always have the same amusing effect when it’s in the middle of our lives. Happening in real time. No rewind or redo.

Let’s dig into Google’s definition.

Irony: a state of affairs or an event that seems deliberately contrary to what one expects and is often amusing as a result.

Couldn’t have said it better myself Google.

Although I am fascinated with super dramatic books, musicals, movies, and plays that contains jaw dropping irony, it was an awfully uncomfortable moment of irony I experienced during my junior year of college. Can’t say that it was all that entertaining.  I was pretty angry. The role I had been playing for 20 years suddenly took an exhaustingly amount of effort to step into. There was no audience. There was no script. Loud Silence. It was simply me and my beliefs staring back at each other with blank expressions.

Junior Year

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By this time, I was pretty secure in my idea of God. The formula was simple. Believe in God. Don’t go to Hell. 

I didn’t have a prayer life, unless I felt guilty about not thanking God or desperately needed something. I only opened my Bible when the pastor said “Turn to…”. There were only two Gospel songs I honestly listened to in my spare time. I thought other Gospel songs were depressing. I went to church on Sundays and occasional Bible Studies. I was a “good” person. Well behaved.

Buuuut something started happening. I began meeting other people of different faiths and meeting people who I felt were EXTREME in Christianity. God also started placing some men in my life who I previously assumed were peculiar, but had a significant presence about them. They became very key in my later transformation. They would make humorous references to the Bible all of the time and seemed so content in life. They were very knowledgable and the amount of knowledge they had about Christianity really intrigued me. I was inspired.

October 2015 came and I started reading the Bible on my own.

Talk about being angry. I started in I Corinthians… don’t ask me why, I couldn’t tell you. Maybe I just opened the Bible and that’s where it landed. I felt like the entire book of Corinthians was condemning, unfortunately.

But I didn’t stop. I read II Corinthians next.

Still Angry.

The God I thought I knew seemed vicious. Unforgiving. Disinterested. Dismissive. Pissy. Quick tempered. And more. Everything I THOUGHT I knew was crumbling. This sucked. A LOT. I was confused.

The Real Irony

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November 2015 came and I was ready to give up the faith. I had been reading the Bible everyday and at a very fast pace. I was covering a lot of ground in the New Testament and a little in the Old. The peculiar guys I mentioned earlier (who are dear close friends now) , I followed them around asking several questions a day to get answers for what used to make perfect sense to me.

But the week when I began to finalize the decision to stop calling myself a Christian and disown that belief system, weird things happened. I was thinking of how the conversation would go with my mom. What my friends would think. Simply trying to prepare myself for the backlash. But then I got angry again. How was it that the choice for me not to follow Christianity would be such a big deal when those who claim to believe in Him would do anything that they wanted anyway? I didn’t get it. I couldn’t tell the difference between His followers and atheists. Thinking of future responses to my decision, of course there would be some who would commend me for my bravery to say that I didn’t believe what majority believed, and then there would be others who barely read their Bibles that would try to preach to me about Hell. I had realized that there were hundreds of people following Christianity out of fear and had no idea what they were signing up for. It annoyed me. It disturbed me. Most of all, I was angry because that WAS me. But ignorance wasn’t bliss for me anymore. I couldn’t accept not knowing.

The Turn Around

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The week of my contemplation, I still had burning questions, but I just gave up on getting them answered. I was going to stop hanging around those new guys I had recently met. I wanted to be alone and start anew. On a mission to be an awesome friend so that my buddy would “accidentally” see her crush, I ran into them unexpectedly. It was an awkward surprise. I wasn’t going to tell them of my decision, and I was honestly afraid to. While waiting on my friend so that we could execute the “run into my crush on accident” plan, they began casually discussing the Bible again. But one of them said something that made me turn my head so fast I could have gotten whip lash. One of them were discussing a presumed account in the Bible of Jesus going to Hell to get some of the people. “What did you say?”. One of the guys began laying out scriptures for me, and I promise it felt like black ice was melting off of my heart. I could not explain it. I went to my room and cried. The next day was when I was going to call my mom and tell my friends. But that night and from then on, God has shown me things people would not even believe if I told them. Months passed, and I was completely transformed internally. It was a weird high that I always cried about. I was sold out for the faith and was all in. I finally understood what I had been missing.

Relationship.

I am still learning of all it really means to be a good servant and I still have to repent from time to time. But there’s no more doubt about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is real. He is love. And He fought for me to know who He really was and what He is all about. I experienced Him for myself and pray you open yourself to experience Him as well.

To God be the Glory