whether or not Your lips move

You speak to me

Dealing with Loneliness May 28, 2010

This is a repost from my other blog, Keep Him or Dump Him?

On this blog we talk a lot about being the kind of women we know we can be, and not settling for anything less than the best in our relationships.

If you’ve been on that journey for even a short amount of time, you’ve probably come to realize something. It’s a lonely way of life.

It can get lonely when you feel like surely you must be crazy for holding out for the “right” guy. You might have even been called “too picky” and told you need to lower your standards. Nobody’s perfect they tell you. And you know this, but you also know that you are worthy of the deepest love and respect possible in a relationship with a guy. And so you continue to hold on to hope as best you can.

It can get lonely when you see another girl partying and hooking up with few consequences, while you continue to wait. She seems to have so much fun. But you know that even if her body isn’t showing the effects of it, her mind and emotions are taking a beating that she may not be aware of—or that she just isn’t equipped to acknowledge. Somewhere along the way she was tricked into thinking that this is the way it is done, this is who she is, and this is how it is supposed to be. It can be very tempting to want to try her way of doing things. It can also be very tempting to set yourself up on a high horse above her. Instead of judging her or joining her, you decide to love her and be her friend.

It can get lonely when you’re the last one of all your friends to be in a serious relationship. You find yourself surrounded by couples and feel like the third wheel. You may even begin to scrutinize yourself and think there is something wrong with you. You feel like you have to choose between bitterness of soul and just accepting reality. You fight the temptation to just go out and find any guy willing to fill the void in your life. But you realize that when you draw your strength from God, you can think a little more clearly and try to keep your eyes on what’s really important.

It can get lonely when you are being pursued by men that you know are totally wrong for you. You get tired of always saying no. You might begin thinking that you should just go ahead and take what you can get. You might start thinking that God is holding out on you and this is what you have to choose from, so why not just go for it. But you are reminded that God has good, exciting plans for your life and choose to focus on that instead—even if it is a daily battle to do so.

I speak from experience on all of this. “But Ashley, you’re a happily married woman now, and therefore I am going to stop listening to you.” (I remember totally tuning out married women’s opinions at one time in my life, too.) Yes, but I have a very good “emotional memory” and remember very, very well the way it felt to be alone.

I didn’t always handle my loneliness very well. Often I was very immature about it. I’d avoid friends who were in happy, healthy relationships because it just put a spotlight on what I didn’t have. I would totally ignore the advice of happily married women because my jealousy painted them as being totally out of touch with the real world and what it was like to be single. I manipulated guys for their attention and affection to fill the void in my heart, but didn’t understand that this was what I was doing.

Finally I found a decent way to deal with loneliness. I guess that after a while I just got tired of being miserable. I started taking a good look at myself to evaluate who I really was. It was painful and not fun. And—you guessed it—it was still lonely! But I was at least learning to be a little more content with it. I had a lot of alone time with God because I didn’t really have much of anyone else. I ended up reading the Bible a lot, journaling a lot, praying a lot. And after a few months of it, I realized that I was becoming a different person. And I kind of liked her.

I need to point out that just because a woman is married, it doesn’t mean she is never lonely. Loneliness has more to do with your soul than your relationship status. It comes and goes, often staying longer than we’d like. But sometimes a little loneliness is OK. When we are dealing with it in appropriate, healthy ways, it can be a tool that helps chisel us more into reflecting the image of God.

What are some ways you have dealt with loneliness?

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ministry multipliers meeting May 25, 2010

Filed under: calling,mentoring,sex,women's ministry — Ash @ 2:55 pm
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I just came from a really awesome 2 hours spent with fabulous women from all across the country. They invest their lives in other women on a constant basis and it is just awesome to see their heart and passion for God and women of all ages.

In just those 2 hours, God further pressed into me the need for me to 1) be myself and the person He created me to be, and 2) speak out on the things that I am passionate about. Because there are dozens of others who are passionate about the same things, and we all need to be encouraged to continue in the paths God has carved out for us. For me, this passion comes out in the area of mentoring and what many might call “biblical womanhood.” Some of you who know me and spend a lot of time with me have heard me use the term “warrior princess” for this idea. (And yes, I’m still working on that paper– one of these days I’ll finish it and post it here!!!)

For those women who were there today, I want you to know I am going to work hard to create a blog post that will help empower parents to talk to their children about sex beginning from birth. There are several resources out there that have been useful to me as I’ve studied sexual development, and I’ll point you to those. For those who were interested in the Keep Him or Dump Him blog, you can click here.

I also want you to know that I want to hear from you. I have a very diverse audience on this blog, from teenagers to grandparents. I love each and every one of you and want to know what you need in your lives right now so I can pray with you and interact with you on this journey!

 

Grieving Nashville May 4, 2010

Filed under: Grief,Nashville flood — Ash @ 11:03 pm
Tags: ,

A deep sense of loss. Grief.

We didn’t lose any material possessions in this flood. No one I know personally was killed.

So why am I so sad?

I am grieving. Grieving Nashville.

I think you might be feeling this way too, if you live here. Especially if you lost property, precious photographs, irreplaceable heirlooms, or–and I pray not–loved ones. But even if you “lost” nothing, you may be experiencing complicated emotions ranging from fear to anger to helplessness, along with some survivor’s guilt. I know I have.

We’re grieving. We will have to work through this strange kind of grief, one that is totally foreign to me, personally. This is my first natural disaster. My first time feeling like my entire city has been pulled up by the roots and will never be the same again.

Places in which I made so many memories are now gone. My first house is likely underwater. I may never be able to drive my future kids to see it and tell them all the stories that happened in the first house their Dad and I ever lived in together. The lessons I learned there. The person I became there.

So. I have been angry. Downright furious, especially at the thought of having to return to “business as usual” the day after it stopped raining.

I have been sorrowful. When the pictures of the Opryland Hotel started coming out on the news, I couldn’t shake them. This was the place we walked around several times a year. This was where we always brought our friends and family visiting from out of town. This was where Aaron arranged for us to have our engagement photos taken, without me knowing we were getting engaged later that afternoon. I couldn’t help but break down and let the pent-up tears burst out.

I have felt unsafe. While the rain was pouring down, while I watched the footage of flooded communities, while I heard friends tell how they lost cars and possessions, I felt completely vulnerable. Would we be next? What should we do? Will we be okay?

In the midst of the fear and heart-wrenching sadness, I somehow managed to hold it together. I did what needed to be done. I survived. But I didn’t do it alone. More than ever, my husband proved to be my steady, unshakable companion. My sister kept me in reality and helped me gather water and supplies for our house and neighbors. We made it. The One who “sits enthroned over the flood” (Psalm 29:10) carried us through the storm.

So. What do I do now? God brought me here for such a time as this. We each have a role to play in the days to come. Whatever our new reality looks like, whatever our new city looks like, we each have something to offer. I don’t know what it means for me yet, but I know I am loved and I know I am not alone.