Monday, August 13, 2007

Life changes

A little over 8 months ago I first heard of this girl named Jennifer Wright and the work she was doing at a little orphanage in the heart of Honduras. Little did I know that the story was going to be much less than a simple heart warming tale and would instead change my life forever. As you all know shortly after hearing of the work God was doing through Jen I decided to join her for 3 1/2 months. That 3 1/2 months then turned into 7 as I stayed through the summer. Well I'm home now....only I do not intend to stay. I will not be returning to school this fall. For all of you who are sitting back in your chairs, shaking you heads, thinking I'm making the biggest mistake of my life I ask that you would hear me out. I went to Honduras 7 months ago because I could feel God leading me down that path. From the moment I moved into Casa and started my new life there my life changed in more ways than I could ever begin to put into words. I went through an intense time of being broken and remolded. I was a Christian and was doing fine with my walk with the Lord before going into the mission field. However, the preexisting structure that I was inhabiting was nowhere near what God wanted it...and still isn't. I learned what it meant to die to self daily as I learned to live life in a whole new country. One that was equipped with its own beliefs, customs, traditions, and even language. I had to learn to give up my selfish Americanized way of thinking in order to truly connect with those I was coming into contact with daily. Again I wish I could put into words the changes my heart and life have gone through in the past months but could never do justice to the differences that have occurred. All I can say is that after living there for as long as I did my eyes were opened to the problems in our world. Starvation and pain went from something that people talked about around me or something I saw on the news to something I was living in the midst of. It became my took residence so close that its affects found their way into the depths of me and entwined themselves around my heart. It is impossible to walk out of that place so touched and not have been changed. I have spent 3 years of college crying every time I left home. I spent countless nights in my dorm room on the phone sobbing to my parents and begging them to let me come home. I sat in my living room numerous times with them battling the decision to go back and knowing it just wasn't where I was meant to be. However, I didn't know what else to do at the time and had nothing else to do with my life. So no matter how much my heart resisted I would always return to school. Don't get me wrong I loved my college life.....I met some of the best people life has to offer. I was blessed with the greatest roommate and friends that God could offer me. I thoroughly enjoyed my classes and adored (most of) the professors I had. However, I was lacking something....each time I went back I could feel something was missing. I never knew just what that thing was until I moved to Honduras and then it was simple. I was missing the contentment that we find when we are truly doing what God made us for. I was fulfilling the purpose and plans God had set before me. Being so far from my family wasn't any more fun than it had been during college. However, I can honestly say that I never called home once sobbing and begging to be allowed to come home. The fact of the matter is I no longer fall into this belief that we must fall behind and become thousands of dollars in debt in order to get ahead. I'm not discrediting the benefits of a college education and am definitely not saying that no one should go. I personally like knowing that our doctors, dentist, etc. have been educated in the field they are in. At the same time I don't feel like college is for everyone. I think that as a society we have made college so much into a MUST that we have made it seem shameful to not go. We have left a group of people feeling like they have failed simply because they never went to college. I know for me when my senior year of high school came around people were asking "where I was going to college" "what I was majoring in" "what colleges I had visited." I NEVER got asked if I was going or what my plans were for college because it was unacceptable for me to not go on. Again I'm not bashing the college idea. I will finish my degree at some point and I agree that it can open doors for me in the future. However, if I had gone back this year it would have been for 2 reasons. First, so that I could have one last years with girls that I've grown to love like sisters and wanted to spend our senior year making memories that could last a lifetime. Secondly, I was going back because I was scared of what would happen when God tells me I'm done in the mission field. What would I do then? So basically my motivators for not going back boiled down to my desire to socialize and my fear of the future. I was more or less looking at God saying I trust You but just in case You fail me I'm going to go ahead and have a degree to fall back on. He didn't lead me down this path into the life of a missionary to drop me at the end. I finally had to decide that I was no longer going to fall back on the worldly cushions I was placing around myself and instead free fall onto the cushions that God was longing to place all around me. I realize that God gave me a brain with which to learn and provide for myself but there comes a point when we cross the line of simply providing for ourselves with what He has given us and completely deleting him from the picture. I am sad to say that I've been deleting him from the picture for far too long. It is time for me to step up and listen to HIS timing and HIS way. Too be perfectly honest when I thought of going back to school I thought of all of you. I thought of the disappointment it would cause. I feared the shame that might come from those that I care for most. I cringed at the thought of letting any of you down. I could hear your voices lifting up and I imagined people labeling me a quitter, scared, dumb, or other such things. However, there came a point when I finally realized that my fear of these labels was worth it to have God think of me as faithful to my Him, passionate about His call, a servant ready for His work, or things of this nature.
I tell you this not because I want to be viewed as a saint or better than anyone else because I'm not. I'm a sinner saved by grace just like all of you. I instead tell you all this to beg you to understand even for a second why I am choosing this path for my life even when so many have warned me against it. I value all of your opinions and welcome your wisdom and guidance. However, I have to be quite frank....Jesus's way was never popular. He never allowed the opinions of other sway what He knew God was calling Him to do and neither will I. I'm done following the crowd or doing what I think I should do as opposed to what God would have me do because lets face it when we are standing at the gates of heaven we won't have our loved ones to answer to. It will be God's face I have to look upon and answer to as He asks me why I turned my ear away when he was calling me. This has been by far the hardest decision I've ever made in my entire life. It was done with lots of prayer, tears, and searching. The road ahead isn't going to be easy as I leave my heart people, my home, and even my country. However, as sure as I am that my loved ones want the very best for me I know that God has my absolute best interest at heart and isn't going to lead me into something I can't handle. I don't know if any of this has made sense to you but I pray that somewhere in the midst of my rambling you will see a glimpse of the heart that has poured all of this out to you. I don't exactly what lies ahead of me but I do know that God promises that His word and presence will be a light for my feet to light up my path. He will light the way and if He chooses to only light the path one step at a time I will faithfully trust His guidance. I will be in the states fundraising until November. At which point I will return to Hondo for who knows how long. I will for sure be back in forth visiting during this phase of life but I have no clue how long I'll be anywhere. I plan to stay in Honduras until God tells me we are done there. I simply ask that you would lift me up in your prayers and that you would try to understand the decisions I have made even if they aren't what you would have had me do. I love you all.


Mark said...

You go girl!!!

Sam said...

Thanks for sharing your heart about this Ashley. This blog helped me sort through a lot of the things going on in my head and in my heart as I look at my future and what it holds. I found myself completely agreeing with everything you said, and Im so glad you are allowing God to use you in this way, this is cool stuff. You will be in my prayers! I love you!

Jen said...

You rock my world!!! You're being an ordinary radical with boldness and courage and I'm proud beyond words to know you! May God continue to light the way and may You continue to follow it with all of that heart He gave you. Ministering beside you is an honor! Way to go Barney...:)

JSM said...

Ashley~ I know I barely know you, but I am so proud of you. You're right, there's nothing on this earth more soul-quenching than being exactly where God wants you to be, and doing what He has purposed for you specifically to do. I pray that He continues to lift you up, and give you the strength you need for the journey ahead.