“What do I do to live into the person that Jesus made me to be? Do you know what the answer was for me? I did stuff!”
June has been one of those months that has sat incredibly heavy upon my heart. Social Justice is an area of life that quite simply breaks me. From the moment I first understood the devastation of human trafficking, to the time I watched my first documentary on sex slavery in the Phillipines, my heart was wrecked. When I see articles, statistics and story lines around the subject of domestic abuse, I have a feeling in my stomach akin to nausea. On a daily basis, God continues to break my heart for what breaks his. I must never get complacent from this feeling as this is a catalyst for action.
An area that I have become complacent in is the area of racism and for that I am ashamed. It has always been an area that sickens me but I must confess that for all the time I have spent educating myself surrounding the issues of injustice, I have failed to truly try and understand the pain my brothers and sister of colour have been experiencing.
As we are aware the appalling death of George Floyd has sparked protests around the world . I was blessed to attend one in my town. We are seeing a tidal wave of people expressing emotion about these recent oppressions. What we must be aware of is that whilst many of us may be just awakening to these issues, this is obviously not a new occurrence. It is time for me as not just a believer in the ways of Jesus but a human being, to stand up and assess my own heart. It is time to educate myself on the historical and systemic issues that keep people of colour under this oppression. As a white woman, I will never understand what it feels like to live in fear due to the colour of my skin, but how dare I choose to sit back and allow this to pass. This is not a trend that will end the second the hashtags move away from our instagrams, but must continue as long as we are blessed enough to live on this Earth. This month I have sat alone with God and lamented, I have questioned what my first step is and I have taken practical steps to fill in the gap of ignorance I have been living in.
It makes me sick to think that we could ever look at a human being and begin to insinuate that they are not worthy of love. Whether they are LGBTQ+, a person of colour or a different set of beliefs to us. Who gave us the right to play judge? Human beings are the most beautiful, diverse and complex beings on this planet and it breaks my heart to see people losing their seat at the table.
As this lockdown continues, I continue to process both the things going on around me both externally and internally. As well as issues of race, I have continued to spend time on my own heart and looking a little into the future. I am a firm believer in mentorship and coaching and myself have invested in them over the years. I have started with a new leadership coach as well as spiritual director and already I am reaping the benefits. In my most recent session with my coach, we addressed the area of dreams. One thing you need to know about me is that I am a massive dreamer, I am constantly writing out dream boards and getting excited about what the future holds. I am so excited by the gifts and passions that God has put in me and I love to plan adventures! In my past, God had begun to form beautiful, bold dreams in my heart, but I allowed them to be crushed in a sea of trauma, unhealthy relationships and a lack of self worth. I did not understand that God had created me for big things so I became a yes woman to other people’s ideas of how my life should be. Over the past 4 years I am growing more firmly into the person that God has called me to be and I have been dreaming hard.
These past few months have been tough emotionally and I have had a few things stripped away from me. Dreams that I envisioned did not go the way I planned and there was a lot of stuff to debrief, because of this, It felt scary to dream again. I have put this on the wayside. I do believe wholeheartedly that I am in a season where I am forced to learn to take things one day at a time. We are all in a season of extreme unpredictability and actually after surrendering this over, I have found a lot of freedom in this. Having said that , when you take the ability to dream away from me, it hurts a little piece of my soul. Having mentioned this to my coach she encouraged me that it was time to dream again. She asked me to come up with 100 dreams. 100!! This sounded incredibly overwhelming to me and yet, whilst we were on the phone together i came up with 50, many were as small as trying new coffee shops and watching Stormzy live all the way to honeymooning in Rarotonga and writing a book ! 🙂 I did not hold back, no matter how far fetched they seem! Some address the woman I want to become. The countries I want to live ( Australia) and much of them revolved around fitness and coffee.. classic ! Nonetheless, to dream again lit a fire in me and got my head out of my current situation. What a blessing it is to understand the gifts and talents that have been placed within us and to go out and set the world on fire with them.
LAYING IT DOWN
I have mentioned in a couple blogs past, every year I set a word for the year ahead, I spend time praying over this as it sets an intention. This year was the word Surrender. What a hilarious word to have with the circumstance that we find ourselves in. I really was under the illusion that I had full control over my life. It was arrogant of me to think that I could predict and set out my days and months ahead as if I was the captain of my life. Now i’m not saying that there is anything wrong with planning, i think planning is necessary to keep a level of structure in our lives and to achieve goals, but i now see that I need to be willing to lay those plans down and say to God, “Not my will, but yours” I believe that he has given me desires of my heart as I have grown into the woman I am today and I now feel an excitement to walk in freedom to see what the years ahead of me bring. I am promised in scripture that God is able “ To accomplish infinitely more that we might ask or think” ( Ephesians 3:20 )
As the UK eases its way out of lockdown, I am excited to meet with pals again over flat whites and brunch, creating vision boards and exploring the world again. I await for the red light to return back to ministry but with the realisation that no time is wasted and that opportunities are around me everywhere I look, both in the mundane and in the goals that sit in the deepest crevices of my heart.
I hope everyone is staying safe in this time and I hope that this time in quarantine has seen dreams that were bubbling below the surface, begin to spring to life again
Just an FYI, I was invited to be a Guest on a podcast relating to mental health so if you want to hear a little more about my story, check it out!
Love, Ashleigh x