Nostalgia can be a beautiful and lovely thing. It can also be a tremendous burden to carry around with you. I love thinking about the moments where freedom and infinity seemed like two very tangible objects in the great expanse of the universe. Cynicism has risen to the occasion and frequently holds me captive in its chambers. I forget that there is freedom in Christ, and that there is even freedom from the past.
The past does not define me. It is a piece of me, yes. But I am not just a summation of all of my mistakes haphazardly stitched together. I am like the phoenix that rises from the ashes. I’ve met many opportunities to burst into flames. I’ve seen many meltdowns. I’ve incurred an unimaginable amount of heartache in my life. But it isn’t who I am now. Those things only made me who I am today. I’m learning that you are who you are in the moment in which you are living. I am the Ashley that I am today. And tomorrow, with great hopes, I will be an even better version of myself.
I’m not running around reinventing myself. Rather, I am striving for self improvement with each given day. If I am not improving, I am stagnant. And stagnant waters stink. I don’t want to remain murky, bug-infested, stinky water. Rather, I want to be a babbling brook that refreshes the spirits of those that I encounter. I want to make positive change wherever I travel.
I don’t always remember every detail about being younger. Instead, I get muddled bits and pieces of fragmented memories, and my brain works in overtime to make heads or tails of certain things in order for it to be tangible thoughts. But the things that I do remember? They make me so very thankful that I’ve lived the life that I have lived. And even more hopeful that this is a life that is full of ups and downs–mountains and valleys. That even when I am feeling the lowest, that there is something higher just around the bend.
I do remember that being very young I never felt like I was at a loss for friends. I felt like I belonged somewhere. It wasn’t until later on that I felt the stinging rejection of not being good enough. My skin was different. My hair was different. My body wasn’t perfect. My teeth have a giant gap right in the front. I grew up awkwardly and puberty did not treat me kindly.
I think it was middle school that I realized that if I could protect anyone from feeling like I did those grueling years, that I would. I want the girls that I’ve the pleasure of nannying to know that they always belong. They may not always fit in with the crowds at school. But, they belong somewhere. They matter. They are important. They are lovely.
And to borrow from The Little Princess, every girl is a princess. I believed that growing up, and though I lost sight of it for many years, it is this wonder and hope that I want to impart onto the girls that I can influence.