As Christians, we are all stretched to grow and mature in our faith, but we aren't meant do it alone. We need Christian community to encourage and challenge us.
At the same time I was raiding the candy store with my friend, there were two significant life lessons my parents were emphasizing back home: eat food that is good for you, and pray about everything. I did not enjoy either lesson at the time. You see sugar was delicious, vegetables were disgusting, and prayer was a boring waste of time, but I felt constant guilt to do it.
As a quiet young girl who tried her hardest to say as little as possible, Colossians 4:6 encouraged me to make use of my words and be intentional. This shifted my perspective. Instead of doing my best to use as few words as possible, I started to view my speech as a way to point others to Christ.
As an unapologetic optimist, I used to assume the best about people which made me an unfortunate judge of character. Sometimes I honestly couldn't identify fake friends from real ones. But the sarcastic words? The little insults? They were the hundred paper cuts that eventually made me bleed. I had to learn the hard way that not everyone likes Ashley. And some people never will.
For as long as I can remember, my biggest insecurity has been my quiet personality. I’m not overly talkative, I’m not super outgoing, and I’m not the life of the party by any stretch of the imagination. Don’t get me wrong - I love to have fun. And the friends who know me well have plenty of stories. But I remember coming away from so many parties and get togethers beating myself up for not saying enough. I felt like I had nothing to offer in group situations and wondered if people really wanted me there.
Being in my 20s, I’ve had more of a mixed friend group and have been trying to navigate these sometimes murky waters. At times more successfully than others. I find that when I talk to guys I can be at a loss for words, afraid of giving them the wrong impression, and even avoid being caught in a conversation with them. To narrow it down, my friend and I both found ourselves becoming increasingly awkward and rude.
Our culture gives us this unfortunate idea that we have to perfect ourselves. To truly be successful you need to eliminate all of your weaknesses. You need to hold your own. You need to keep it together. You need to be a completely well rounded person. But how boring, really.
The old phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is one of the biggest lies to ever penetrate our society. The wounds from the words of others have left a far more lasting impression upon my heart than the physical wounds I have received.