I was excited, not to begin classes, but for the sense of independence felt. 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.
I wanted to belong.
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 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 that verse in my head, I didn’t truly understand it. I could admit sin, but reasoned that I was a good girl overall. I knew the Bible stories. I did Christian things. I even lived on the mission field! What did I really need saved from?
How could I? I could because my revealed hearts desire was not for God. It was 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 broken mess. I believed the lies that I was worthless and beyond repair.
Brokenness can be a great gift. That year wasn’t just a “bad season” or a “little phase of rebellion.” It brought a recognition that the greatest threat I 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 a date 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 any credit. Following Jesus is 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. You can read a bit of our story here. God gave us the privilege of raising three wonderful boys. Everyday with them is a blessing and challenge as I am reminded time and again of how much I still/will always need Jesus!
What happens next in this story? Only God knows. We have had incredibly sweet and wonderful moments. We have walked through hard times. I have no doubt that more will come. But God has always proven to be trustworthy. He shows me again and again that His ways are best.
Whatever happens, I can dance on the mountain tops and walk the dark valleys, though they bring pain, with confidence.
Because my story isn’t really mine at all…
It is His.
“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