Tag Archives: struggle

Spiritual Struggles : My journey through Psalms (94)

I have, like many people, struggled with anxiety and depression for a good part of my life. It is where the enemy targets me—especially in moments where I am basking in the glory of God’s light. This time of year, November-January, is always the hardest. The days are dark and long. The stress is high. Each day is a battle, a spiritual one.

A few nights ago, around ‘fall back’ time, I had a dream. To the average person, this dream seems mundane at best…stupid at worst, but here it is:

My good friends got together. They did not invite me, I just happened to stumble upon them at a park where they were gathering. They greeted me with smiles and told me the plan. Of course, I was invited, they were glad I was there. But I knew I was an afterthought. 

I walked away. 

A couple of them followed, but wallowing in self-pity, I didn’t return. Instead, I watched the gathering like an omniscient ghost. Every good friend I have ever had, met, or spent time with was there.  Illogically they were together and having a great time without me, even though most of them didn’t know one another. 

Later, I flooded the bathroom–I’m not really sure how that fit into the dreamscape, but I woke up startled and confused, breathing in the anxiety of my dream.

My friends. My Family. The people I do life with. I know they love me. Intellectually I have no problem accepting this. Yesterday I had an amazing time hanging out with some of the people who have been with me since elementary school–clearly not a place of anxiety This dream was stupid, yes, but it also is very telling about my fears. 

But then…

I had dinner with a friend of mine and I said something pretty stupid. My extemporaneous delivery in conversation sometimes is terrible, and my comment was meant as a joke, but based on her reaction I realized it was not life-giving, it damaged hope. I felt bad. I’ve obsessed over it for a few days now, even though I know she immediately either forgot or forgave my insensitivity, I still sometimes struggle with the feeling that one wrong move and all my relationships might just crumble.

 

I fear many things, but rejection is pretty high on the list. Even when I’m with people I love and who I know love me, a part of my mind is always battling against the whisper that I am unwanted–that I don’t fit in and I should stop trying to.

I fear being an afterthought. Forgotten. And worst of all, being isolated in my own head because I allow these fears to become realities.

Because the fact is, sometimes I do allow it.

Psalm 94, of course, spoke to me after a night of restless dreams. Verses 18-19 read:

When I said my foot is slipping, your love, O Lord, Supported me. When Anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy.

The fact is simple. We all have a choice–to lean on God or let the world support us. The world will always let us down. No matter how much our friends and family care–they are only human and they make mistakes. We simply can’t count on them to sustain our life force the way that God alone can.

Don’t get me wrong. Friends and family are important! Jesus had 12 BFFs that he did life with, but even Jesus asserted that we must leave them and trust only in God.

Only then will we find consolation for our weary, fearful souls.

I found this graphic to be simple, but effective. It helps me, so I’m sharing it in case your spiritual battles are equally mind-blowing.

I can’t control every subconscious fear, but I can put God in control, and listen only to his voice. When he is my foothold, then the fears can never control me.

What does your name mean?

I used to hate my name.


Ashley


I spent most of my life hearing ‘names are important’, ‘names have meaning’, ‘names are valuable’. So I asked my parents why they named me Ashley.

I knew what my sister’s name meant: Katherine ‘pure and clear’.  Beautiful.

I knew what my brother’s name meant: Justin ‘just, upright, righteous’. Now that’s a meaning with a punch of purpose.

Mine? Sure I knew mine too: Ashley ‘from the Ash Tree’. Uh…what?

My sister worked as a missionary. A teacher of children. A spiritual guidepost for kids and teens.

My brother became a lawyer.

What was I supposed to be? I can’t grow a plant to save my life. I even killed Bamboo.

Okay, I know what your thinking. I don’t actually believe our names control our destiny, but I do see a correlation between names and purpose and I think God is pretty clear about that too.

So you know what my parents told me when I asked them? They told me Ashley was a pretty name and, at the time, unique.

I struggled to see purpose in that. Especially since the 1980s saw such an explosion of baby Ashley’s that I was always one of 3 Ashleys in my class.


Ashley C. 


Frustrated, I grew irritated every time the Bible recorded or mentioned purposeful naming because, to be honest, I felt left out.

I know that’s irrational.

I know my parents didn’t mean anything by it.

Over analytical, as always, my name and identity felt empty. Hollow. Meaningless.

Until I started to look at it differently. It’s probably why I love subtext as much as I do. When I started seeing myself as multidimensional, it opened up a new perspective and it helped me see my identity much more clearly.

People sometimes call me Ash.

What an image that puts in your mind. Useless grey dust. Gross.

Except, ash isn’t useless.

I’ve always had a fascination with the phoenix. Somewhere along the process of growing, maturing and finding my identity, I realized that ashes actually hold potential. power, beauty and subtext.

You see, a phoenix has a unique talent. It goes through trials, but what appears to be the biggest trial of all, death, never actually destroys a phoenix. Instead, when this mythical bird bursts into flames and collapses in what appears to be a useless pile of ash, it rebirths a new phoenix–it’s still the same bird, but it’s different. New. Not destroyed, revitalized.

And did you know that Ash tress are actually used as symbols in ancient mythology? Guess what they symbolize? Yep, rebirth and revitalization.

JRR Tolkein said, “from the ashes a fire shall be woke. A light from the shadows shall spring.”


From ugly to beauty. 

From dark to light. 

From the ashes. 

From the Ashley. 


What better destiny could a person ask for than to wake a fire where there was nothing seemingly worth saving?

I am a fire reviver.

I am a phoenix.

Now, I embrace to perspcetive shifts that help me see beauty where there was once only grey dust.

And I couldn’t do that if I weren’t


Ashley


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