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.
I remember the day when I received my purity ring. As a thirteen-year-old girl, I was mesmerized by the glittering of the garnet stone in the sunlight. My parents explained to me what it meant to be pure, and how the ring was a symbol of a commitment. I don’t think I fully got it. Even though my parents did their best to help me understand the holistic design for purity, my young mind oversimplified the concept of purity and made it solely about the physical aspect. As a brand new teenager who hardly even spoke to boys, I thought that the whole “purity deal” was easy. Of course I would be abstinent! I had been taught that sex before marriage went against God’s Word. I didn’t think that I would need a reminder of my commitment to purity.
Love makes it okay to have sex. I’ve heard that line more times than I can count. But, no matter how good it sounds, I can’t find it anywhere in the Bible. In fact 2 Timothy 2:22 urges us to flee from youthful passions so we can pursue love instead. "So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Timothy 2:22).”
I grew up believing sex was bad. No one ever actually said it that bluntly, and I doubt I would have ever verbalized it that way (because let’s be honest, I never would have said that word out loud). But as I sat through church service after church service that encouraged saving sex for marriage, that’s the conclusion I drew. My youthful “solution” = Do not desire sex at all. The problem with my “solution” = A fear of that which God designed for His glory.
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 dream has been to become a wife and mother. In my mind, the ideal scenario was to start dating in late high school, get married fresh out of college, and start a family not long after. The only problem was that there was never a guy in the picture. I finished high school without dating anyone, so needless to say, things didn’t start out the way I had imagined.
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.
Like most of you, I love to watch rom-coms. I’m not the biggest fan of the Hallmark channel, but my parents are in December and February. My personal favorite movie is 10 Things I Hate About You, but I am definitely a sucker for the storylines in The Notebook, The Longest Ride, The Proposal, The Lucky One and plenty of Disney favorites (I am a proud Disney fanatic, no shame). But friends, we need to WAKE UP.