Ashton Ray1 Comment

The End

Ashton Ray1 Comment
The End

Words. How i love them, but how they tease me. In the midst of commas and colons and periods and letters, i find peace. i process and i cry and i meet God as i write. My Maker has given me the heart and mind of a writer, yet there are nights where the words do not fall. My brain is spinning and my heart is full and i am, like always, feeling things deeply, but the words are not dancing as i would like them to. 

But i will write on. 

i am inching towards the end of a season and the beginning of another. When i say inching, i mean i am only a day away from moving. The end is sooner than i will allow myself to acknowledge. 

This season has been beautiful. i have not stopped learning since i moved to Lake Forest at the end of September. i have experienced, eaten, and enjoyed new things. i have lived with people that were once strangers. i learned to cook. i have cried. a lot. i have gotten to live in a home with parents who love God, each other, and me. It was so different but so wonderful. i think i have learned the most from them. 

There have been everyday treasures found in this internship like the morning light on my bedroom floor or afternoon coffee in the camp office. i have learned to see joy and gratitude in the everyday, but i have also experienced the miraculous wonders of our Creator. 

i have seen Him redeem the parts of my life that i had never dreamed would see the light. Friend, i do not think that i could express to you the levels of freedom that the Father has shown me. i genuinely love myself and i am proud of the woman that i am. It it incredible. And it is wonderful. And it is real. 

God has shown Himself to me on the good days and the bad. He has turned my cynical heart to joy and thanksgiving. He has turned my anger into laughter. He has, once again, taught me not to lean on my own understanding. Plans are for the birds. 

i had ideas of what my life would look like after the internship. i anticipated a different school, a different state, and new people. i would finish at Lake Forest in May and start school again soon after. 

Until one night i was in the car with my surrogate mom and might-as-well-be sister and my heart turned. We had been at a party that night and all of my favorite people were in attendance. All of my favorite people who all happened to live in the city i swore i would never live in again. i had spent a lot of time at the party telling my friends about my exciting plans for next semester, about what i felt God was calling me to and how excited i was.

Let me point out that Justin Bieber was right in telling us to "never say never." i had an impressive list of reasons i would never call Jackson, Ms home again. My first two years of college were long and hard and healing, but draining. i looked at the school and the city as the setting for all the hard and the messy. It is my own personal battlefield that was fought from my dorm bed and the couch in my therapists' office. When God told me that i was not going back to school in August, i closed my heart and mind to Jackson. Going back to Jackson or Mississippi College were my "nevers." 

That night in October, in the same seat of the car that i am sitting in now, God changed my plans so fast it's almost laughable. i say almost, but the truth is that I have laughed about it a lot in the past few months. God broke down a false-wall i had created with my list of "never" and He showed me what He truly desired for me. He showed me that He had made those people at the party my favorite people for a reason. 

i think that God gave me desires for my next step, but those desires had been covered by a fog of my plans. i wanted community and newness and redemption and good coffee and to see Jesus in new ways. My little human brain thought that those things could only come in a completely new town. But our God is one of redemption. He delights in making the ugly beautiful and bringing beauty from the ashes. It is the same story in a new light. He makes beautiful things. 

In January, i will be returning to my battlefield, but i am going to plant flowers and allow my heart to sing songs of hope and joy. i am re-enrolled at the school i once hated. i am overjoyed at the idea of walking back on campus within a sea of familiar faces and weirdly green grass. God has changed the hearts of kings; He can obviously change the heart of a stubborn 21 year old. 

i am in awe of all that this season has been. i am walking away from it with a heavy heart, but with a heart that has been healed and loved and constantly full this semester. It has not all been easy; I have laughed a lot but cried a lot too. I have felt new joy but also deep pain. It has been a mess of emotions and a beautiful picture of our Maker's constant love. As i walk forward, i am approaching this next chapter with anticipation for what's to come. The spring semester will be different, but it will be a continuation in the song of redemption that God has written for me. He makes all things new and i am really pumped that He invites us to be a part of that.