Reviewing my history is a tremendously brave endeavor. The seasons that I have weathered will forever leave me feeling as if I have aged a thousand years in such a short amount of time. I never claim that my past experiences, tragedies, and mistakes have afforded me some right to feel as if I have superior knowledge about the world. I don’t. As a matter of fact, I recognize that so many things that I did in reaction to situations left me with a stunted emotional development. Instead of forcing myself to cope naturally and healthily to negative emotions, I found myself grasping for anything that would satiate the present longing in my soul.
Praise God that isn’t who I am now.
I believe in this relationship with Jesus Christ to be the most transformative relationship ever. Finding Christianity didn’t mean that I found a religion that would provide to me a structured set of rules upon which I could base my life. Rather, I found this adventured-filled safari into the wilderness of my past, present, and future with the creatures being people, memories, or worries.
The only thing I miss about the me that came before my transformation? I miss the brass, unafraid version of me. Pre-Christ Ashley was never once afraid to speak her mind, no matter the audience. Instead, when I have the opportunity to share the one thing that should (I’m not claiming perfection. I believe in sanctification. I am a work in progress.) mean everything to me? I freeze. I remain silent when it matters the most.
I have scars. There are the sort that you can see peppering my flesh like unsightly reminders of the times that I couldn’t find any other way to cope. Instead, I let them serve as my testament to the restorative power of my relationship with Jesus. Instead of me allowing them to be my scarlet letters of shame, they are badges of victory. I have been through my understanding of hell on earth, and I haven’t been defeated.
I have scars. I have the sort that line my heart, and I know that no matter how long I live, they will still be faint and tender to a forceful touch. But they forever stand to serve as a reminder that the moments I let others dictate my worth and my value, are the moments that I set myself up for hurt I was never intended to bear. I am thankful for them, because I know that they remain to remind me never to let myself return to those days.
If you can’t see the changes in me? That’s okay. Maybe you haven’t known me enough to watch my transform from a caterpillar to a butterfly. You’re in the fortunate majority that never dealt with my mouth that would put sailors to shame, my actions that would wound even the most innocent of creatures I encountered, and my heart that was a black as a room the moment you turn off the light after watching a scary movie. But if you did know me before? I’m sorry. I am a work in progress, and God isn’t finished with me yet.
And until the day He calls me home, I know that there is one soul out there that would hear my testimony and see His face, and that’s one soul enough for me to endure even the most-desert of seasons.