We Can't Stay the Same

A year ago i prayed, "Father, i want you to change me and i want to feel changed."

Today, i am laughing at myself.

Today, i have been changed and i definitely feel changed. 

We serve a God who answers prayers. 

i started 2014 in a kitchen in Macon, MS cooking for 100 men who were spending their weekend hunting. i started last year in a kitchen having an anxiety attack because i am not a cook, let alone a fake-cook who can somehow cook for 100 people on her own. i distinctly remember saying, "If this night is a reflection of what this year is going to look like for me, i don't want this." 

Turns out that that night i spent running around a kitchen feeling helpless, taking deep breaths, and reminding myself that, "It will be over soon." was a perfect picture of 2014.

Frankly, 2014 kicked my butt. Praying that i would be changed was indeed a lofty prayer to pray. In order to change, we have to know what needs to change. January 4th, 2014 Ashton didn't know what needed to change.

i remember being told that i had never really addressed my past and not fully agreeing with them. i was depressed and i didn't think it was something i could ever really be healed of. My counselor asked me if i knew that i could be wanted, and i surprised myself when i said no. i came back from Guatemala thinking i could "be okay" on my own, when in reality i needed people more last semester than ever before. i thought that i had "gone through what i needed to go through" and that anxiety no longer had a hold on my life, but then i found myself in the library having an anxiety attack. i thought that i had a plan, but that rug was ripped out from under me too. Heck, i was afraid of commitment but next thing i know i found myself laying on a table in a tattoo parlor. i thought i was happy, but then i was on a playground in Guatemala with a little boy named Kevin laughing on my shoulders and i knew what joy really feels like.

i went into 2014 thinking that i had it all figured out, thinking i was an A+ human with everything in line. i don't think i knew what change would mean for me. i can promise you that if Past-Ashton knew what last year was going to look like, she wouldn't have prayed that prayer. Now, 365 days after the prayer was asked, i'm glad i didn't have the chance to run away from last year looked like because i am more proud of who i am today than i could have imagined i would be a year ago.

Since being home, i've had a dangerous amount of free time. i've thought so much. i've seen six movies. i've had enough free time to somehow become lightly (very) obsessed with One Direction. i've read three and a half books, but i've added a dozen to my bookshelf. i've lived a beautiful, introverted life over this break and i'm glad about it. In my wandering time, i've found five of my old journals. The oldest dates back to my freshman year of high school and the newest ended last May.

Finding these has been both embarrassing and encouraging. i said a lot of dumb stuff, but it has been so cool to have my own words giving me a picture of who i once was. Opening the oldest one was hard; it carried me through my parent's divorce and the year of my life where i didn't have much going for me. The one from 2011 wrote out some silly boy issues. The most recent one is the sweetest to read. Though it was only seven months ago that i filled its last page, i have lived a lot of life since then. It was the first journal that i used to record my prayers and i have found that the way we pray grows with us. When i started the journal, i didn't know what it meant to be honest with God. By May however, God got a few "choice words" from me and i no longer treated Him as though He was at a distance. When i began the journal in September of 2013, i was a psychology major who thought she was going to go into counseling and would live in a sensible home and other american dream type things. Since then, i have changed my major twice, lived in a foreign country and i now cringe at the idea of living the american dream. i no longer want to be a counselor; i want to be a writer and i don't care if that sounds sensible to you. Screw the american dream, i've made my own dreams and i intend to follow those before i pursue my minivan and 2.5 kids.

We serve a God who answers prayers. 

We serve a God who is in the business of making us new.

As i read in my journal, on January 4th, 2014, i asked my Creator, my Maker, my Beloved, my God to change me. i said i wanted to feel changed. 

i do. 

As i type this, i am a different woman than i was and i am so glad. Guys, i don't even remember praying that. i don't remember writing the prayer that has changed my life. Humans are weird, but God is so good.

If you, my friend, are going into 2015 with a prayer to be changed-- good. We are all works in progress and we all need to change, whether we admit it or not. We can never look too much like Jesus. The good kind of change often occurs in our pursuit of His face (i know mine has). Good change, however, is not always easy. We have to walk through the bad to get through the good. We have to know what the dark is like so we know what Light really is. Change is necessary, whether we like it or not. Change is necessary because we were born to change so we could look more like Jesus.

The reality is that there were days last year when i wanted to die. There were days i couldn't stand to look at myself in the mirror. There were days so dark that i didn't think i could ever find light again. Asking for the Father to change me lead me into a season of pain, but that was only the beginning.

2015 is a new year. My Maker has made it very clear that this is a new season for me. As mentioned before, this is a fresh start. Just as you have to assemble a new toy in different steps, so i will change in different seasons. This year is all about healing. Now that my mind is clear and my past no longer controls me, i can heal. We have to become aware of a wound before we can heal it.

Last year, God showed me my wound. This year, He will heal it.

i am so thankful that He did not make us to stay the same. i am so thankful that change is necessary. i am so thankful that i learned that the hard way, but that i didn't learn it too early to miss out on the bittersweetness of the lesson.

i started 2014 miserable and sad but i ended it laughing and dancing with my best friends.

It's a new year. Pray things fearlessly and wait, because He will do more than you could ever imagine. 

Welcome to 2015, friends.

soundtrack for writing: Penny & Sparrow