ASHLEY THOMPSON

 
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I never imagined I’d be where I am today. Just a year ago I would wake up saying, “How did I get here?” This past year, I’ve been walking through a loss — a separation in relationship with someone I had been with for over ten years. I didn’t go into marriage thinking that it would end in divorce. I’ve found myself in a season that I didn’t plan for, yet a season that God has been preparing me for for quite some time.

 

I grew up in church — youth group, Bible club, Christian summer camps, the whole nine yards. I was on fire for Jesus, proudly calling myself a Jesus Freak to anyone that would listen. Somewhere around age fifteen I started to go my own way. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, turning away from God was easy. It doesn’t take much to walk away from something you don’t fully trust. There were past hurts I had, death that God didn’t stop, unanswered prayers that I couldn’t understand. Each of these were bricks on a wall that I put up between myself and Jesus. Another hurt, another brick. Soon I couldn’t see Jesus over that wall, and I preferred it that way.

Three years ago, Jesus found me at a place in my life where nothing actually seemed to be going wrong. I was a good wife, a good friend, a good daughter, and good worker — an all-around good person. Still, it wasn’t enough for some reason. I started to become agitated and kept thinking to myself that there has got to be more. I saw a close friend turn back to Christ after living the same path that I had been living for years. I saw her free, uninhibited by what the world was throwing at her. Her freedom was attractive to me and I knew I had to reach out to someone.

That day I came back to Jesus was terrifying. I didn’t know where to start, but I looked straight at that wall constructed after so many years and pulled out the one brick that was eye level. What was staring back at me was mercy — mercy and grace for my past, for putting up the wall in the first place. Beyond that, I wasn’t sure, but I felt more hopeful than I ever had.

Since that day, I’ve seen miracles take place — lives being born against all odds, healing from diseases, impossible financial provision, and most importantly supernatural movement in hearts that once seemed too hardened. I’ve also walked through incredible amounts of grief, periods of darkness that I felt I’d never resurface from. This is not to say that everything evens out in the end. No. It’s to say that even in the worst times, God was building my faith. I’ve learned more about the character of God while in the fire than I ever have walking on water.

Circumstantially this has been the worst year of my life, but I never want someone to mistake my confidence in God for ignorance in my circumstance. I’m grieving the loss of a future I thought was certain — and all the hopes and dreams that came along with that certainty. Even so, I can boldly say I wouldn’t trade any of it to be where I am today in my relationship with Jesus. Over the years, God has built up my trust and security in Him, so when the world came up against me, it felt like falling off a curb rather than a cliff. He gently released me into a community of brothers and sisters that pray and fight for me daily, a church that puts Jesus at the center, and leaders that speak life over me when I can’t do it for myself.

The “How did I get here?” question takes on a new tone now. The desperation and complaint that used to exist in it are gone. What has replaced those struggles are awe and wonder — awe and wonder about my calling, God’s grace, and the strength that He’s given me through every season.