Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My Story

My  more than a conqueror steez lol

I post women’s testimonies every week for Changed Hearts: I AM Woman but I have never really shared my full testimony. That doesn’t seem fair right?! To be honest, I had not fully shared it because I didn’t feel as though it was completed. News flash Ms. Walston, it will never be completed until you are up and out of this earth girlfriend as I will continuously have areas that Jesus is shaping me in. I’ve briefly touched on parts of my testimony in different blogs (So We're Friends;Today I Choose to Believe the Truth) where I talked about insecurity and friendships so I won’t talk a lot about them here. Most of the people that follow me on social media started following me when I was saved and have no idea where I started. I never want to portray this image of being perfect or that I woke up one day saved, loving Jesus, obeying Him, and always happy because that’s a lie! I still have to repent, I still fail, I still have struggles, and I still mess up. I was in desperate need of a Savior THEN and I’m in desperate need of a Savior NOW. My purpose in sharing this is not to glorify sin but instead to glorify my Father in heaven who has transformed me. The best way to describe my story is this statement: you never realize that you are living in dysfunction until you are exposed to what is really normal. 

Brief Background:
I grew up in a home with both parents and my sister. We all went to church together but I wouldn’t say I grew up in a Christian household. We originally attended a Presbyterian church and no offense by any means but it was real dry…I wasn’t interested in going to church because I thought it was boring. When I was in middle school, my mom moved my sister and I to a Baptist church that I thought was “fun” but it was still just going to church, nothing more. I learned things while I was there but still had no clue about salvation, having a relationship with Jesus outside of going to church, etc. I either went to church because my mom made us or I wanted to see some little boy or friends. My parents eventually divorced and my mom, sister, and I changed churches a couple of times but always stuck with a Baptist church. Long story short, I wasn’t a fan of “church.” There had been so much drama in churches that I was exposed to at a young age that really put me off of church and I thought all church people were fake and phony and I was just over the “show” that was being presented that was called church. Nonetheless, I was the good girl; I was on honor roll all throughout grade school, I didn’t do drugs or smoke, I didn’t drink, I didn’t have sex. In fact I remember telling this guy before I decided to make him my boyfriend “I am NOT having sex with you” as I looked in disgust. Then I turned 18, went to college, and that’s where my story really begins…

So here’s the thing, I love hard…like really hard and I’ve learned that to be a strength and a weakness at times. I was the girl who always had a boyfriend, I rarely stayed single for very long and I looked at men as always being replaceable; lose one? Just go on to the next one, no big deal. I met this guy my senior year in high school that I fell completely crazy (literally crazy) in love with that I ended up losing my virginity to. And yes this is the same guy that I told “I am NOT having sex with you.” As with all puppy love it started off great but things went left at some point. I became very attached to him in an unhealthy way. Everything was about him, nothing else and no one else mattered and I became the crazy girlfriend. Yes I was the girlfriend checking his MySpace (how long ago was that???lol) his facebook, his phone, all of that. I was messaging girls who I thought he was messing with. I was so insecure in who I was in that relationship and I completely lost myself. There was a time that I lied about thinking I was pregnant because I wanted to keep him.  I didn’t trust him at all, I thought he was cheating on me all the time, but the scary thing was the mentality that I had was even if he’s cheating on me, even if he’s doing me wrong, I would rather stay in the relationship. I would rather be miserable and unhappy and stay in that relationship because I was so “in love” instead of leaving and that’s what I did, I stayed. Let’s be clear, love does not make you feel that way. If you feel the need to constantly check a person or you don’t trust them you don’t need to be in that relationship. Deal with your own personal insecurities by yourself before you try to add someone else into the mix. Likewise, you shouldn't feel the need to constantly check the person you're with when you pick the right one. Just saying...

            When I hit college I remained in this relationship and I remember one of my first memories of my freshman year was going to Target with this girl and trying to get away from her for a minute because I needed to buy a pregnancy test (the irony in this was that she needed to buy one too). Luckily, I was not pregnant and you would think that would’ve made me wise up however, later that year I thought I had an STD as I was having unprotected sex with this person that I didn’t trust and thought was cheating on me. Once again, luckily I did not. We eventually broke up but it took me years (yes multiple) to get over that relationship. I hated the woman that I was in that relationship and I vowed that I would never be that insecure, vulnerable, etc. in a relationship again. So I went from one extreme to another…I developed this independent, smart mouthed, no respect for men attitude because I didn’t want to be that girl anymore. I had such a bad attitude towards men and I’ll never forget I was talking to this guy one day and I was popping off at the mouth talking to him all kinds of sideways and he pretty much told me about myself and that I couldn’t talk to people however I wanted to and hung up the phone and we never talked again. You would think that would've make me check myself but did I care? No, still kept the same attitude and hung with girls who had the same attitude which didn’t help anything at all.

            My spring semester of my freshman year I met this woman at a bank and she asked me if I went to
My Ashley and I RIP Sunshine
church. I honestly looked at her like she was crazy and said no. She asked me for my number and offered to take me to a church called New Life Ministries. I’m thinking “what kind of horrible person says NO I don’t want to go to church with you!” but that’s how I was feeling on the inside but I gave this woman (a complete stranger remind you) my phone number anyways. I wrote it off thinking oh whatever she won’t call; well she did…and I ignored her call lol. But she kept calling until I eventually answered and went with her to New Life Ministries. I attended there with her for a few months and I quickly noticed it was something different about this church. It was a really small church but powerful. They preached about holiness, sin, heaven and hell, salvation, pretty much all the stuff I had been oblivious to or just ignoring. They also kept telling me they loved me but they’re actions showed it more than the words they said and I was so not used to that. As I continued to go I started to open my heart back up to God. I somewhat rededicated my life back to Christ and then the unthinkable happens…I find out that one of my close friends from high school was killed in a car accident. I was so angry with God. I’m thinking really God? I just gave you my life and You let this happen, what the heck?!?! So now we’re back at square one, just going through the motions of “going to church.” Although I was mad at God, I was still a people pleaser and I didn’t feel right telling the woman I didn’t want to go to church with her anymore.

            The funny thing is even with a jacked up attitude I was still a people pleaser, I never gave the people who “deserved” it attitude, and I didn’t pop off at my female “friends.” So I continued going to church even though, once again, I didn’t want to. When I started my sophomore year that was when I started really drinking. I can honestly say I didn’t drink that often and that I wasn’t an alcoholic or anything but when I drank it typically did not end well.  I recall waking up one day after taking multiple shots of vodka with my roommate with a huge knot on my forehead after running into the wall multiple times because I had drank so much. There was a time where I woke up with bruises on my cheeks because I had been pinching them so hard (I didn’t realize it because I was drunk) trying to create blush. But my most infamous moment was being in a hallway in the back of a club waiting in line to use the bathroom because I had drank tequila and I wasn’t feeling well and as I’m waiting to get to the bathroom, I throw up all over my shoes and the floor as my friends find me in my own vomit drunkenly trying to clean up the mess. 

  While all this is going on, I’m still “going to church” remind you. Still sitting up in church on Sunday mornings and maybe even Tuesday nights for bible study. I will say I was definitely skipping some Sundays here and there likely because I was hung over from Saturday. I was messing with a guy who I knew had a girlfriend but didn’t really care. I got a matching tattoo with someone I couldn't even tell you the last time I spoke to them. I continued to drink on some weekends, go out to clubs/parties, the usual things you do in college right? (wrong, that’s a sarcastic right in case you missed that memo). Well in 2008  these two new girls started attending New Life Ministries, Gopi and Mariah, and they don’t know this but I remember meeting them and not necessarily thinking they were weird but just thinking they were different (love ya’ll, mean it lol). They were very chipper, I was not use to that at all remind you I still had a bad attitude lol, and they knew all the answers in bible study and I’m thinking what the heck is going on here? Lol We attended the same college yet we had never met one another prior to attending church together. I always say that it takes me a really long time for people to get close to me which is true but what they didn’t know at the time was that I didn’t befriend them right off the bat because they seemed really churchy to be honest lol. I wasn’t feeling that at all…so I still had my group of friends outside of church and we drank, clubbed, and did what “normal” college kids do (once again slight sarcasm). 

Shenanigans from my wilder days as a friend would say
     At some point in all of this, the drinking and the clubbing was uncomfortable for me. I didn’t feel “right” drinking or dancing all up on guys but I kept doing it even though it didn’t seem to work for me anymore. The more people that attended my church that also attended my school I started to get worried about what if they see me at a party? What if I get tagged in a picture on facebook with a shot glass in my hand or in a super short tight dress and one of the “church folks” see it? I was so uncomfortable in doing these things that I couldn’t enjoy it anymore because I was so worried about being caught. Little did I know that this was God trying to pull me back to Him…So I’m starting to put forth an effort to have a relationship with God, I’m inviting my friends to church with me now and they would come sometimes but I felt something drawing me towards God and not the lifestyle I had been pursuing since I started college. But nothing was changing, it was still the same old same old. I was convicted but still doing the same things. I was laying up with a guy that I wasn’t in a relationship with, still drinking, and partying. This was normal, right? (I think you get the sarcasm by now right?) Cut to a few months later when I’m trying to get things back on track with “church” then boom insert distraction. What do you know I meet another guy. Here I am attempting to grow in Christ and I yoke myself up with someone who didn’t have a relationship with Him at all. We end up fornicating and it starts this huge sin cycle all over again. This relationship was very short lived, drama filled, and it created this anger inside of me towards men. I was the girl who seriously contemplated slashing his tires and keying his car. Like I knew where he worked and was plotting in my mind when and how I could do it. I lost so much from this relationship (money, self respect, peace, etc) but most importantly it set me back in my relationship with God. I will never forget being in church one Sunday and going up for an altar call, I’m not sure if I went up myself or if I was called to come up but I ended up at the altar nonetheless. I will never forget Prophet Henry saying to me “How long shall thou be caught between two opinions?” My eyes got so big and all I could think of was OH NO HE DIDN’T! He called me out on riding the fence between being in the world and living for God. He didn’t do it to embarrass me but God was trying to get my attention. He needed to get my attention and that for sure got it. I was so convicted by that but still not to the extent to fully surrender my life to Christ and change. I did however start to pursue Christ more. 

     In the midst of all the shenanigans ending with the last relationship I end up becoming friends with Mariah and Gopi, yes the too churchy for me girls lol. The thing was, I didn’t realize how dysfunctional my normal was until I met them, and not that they were perfect but they were pretty normal and they didn’t do half of the things I did. I actually don’t think they did any of the things I did lol They kind of called me on my crazy. I remember them laughing at me and also kind of looking at me sideways (not in a judgmental way but more in like a girl that's crazy way) at some of the stories I would tell them. I believe they called me crazy A when I told them I considered slashing that boys tires. I can think of three of my old friends that if I told them I was going to slash a guys tires not only would they have encouraged me to do it they likely would’ve asked me if I needed help because they would come with me to do it. With my old friends, I was the calm one, I was the good girl, I was the church girl; with Mariah and Gopi I was the crazy, sassy, smart mouthed, feisty one of the group. Needless to say my crazy stood out a little bit more with them lol. I started to realize how dysfunctional my normal really was.


For once in my life I didn’t have any distractions, my “friends” were gone, I wasn’t dating at all and definitely not looking to do so, it was just me and God. I was being stripped of things and people left and right and it was during this time that I started to get really serious about having a relationship with God. I started attending New Life in 2006, remind you this moment didn’t happen until the end of 2009 early 2010. As I’m starting to develop a relationship with God I was approached by my Bishop’s wife at the time and I was asked if I would start giving a word on 4th Sundays at church. The inside of me was screaming NOOOOOOOOO! I hate public speaking, I so did not want to do that none whatsoever! Still a people pleaser I said, sure! I had no clue what I was getting myself into…for everyone who was at New Life Ministries when I first started giving the word I apologize lol I read word from word from my paper that I had written out my message on, I didn’t include any scriptures, I read poems, and I did this for months! I would get so nervous and every single month I considered telling my Bishop I couldn’t do this anymore. I didn’t though…Eventually they got me away from reading word from word from the paper and that was difficult for me but it enabled me to trust God to speak through me. I was falling apart but in the best way possible. Everything and everyone that made me feel comfortable were gone; they graduated or left the area and it was just God and I. He picked up the pieces even though they were really messy. 

On Easter Sunday of 2011 I was licensed as a missionary at New Life Ministries church and it’s one of the days that I will never forget. I remember when it was discussed of me getting ordained I made up in my mind that I didn’t want to go back to the things that I used to do. I'm so thankful for my church family and my leadership of both the late Bishop and my current Pastor who encouraged and pushed me towards Christ. To be honest sometimes they literally had to push...and drag lol but I'm so thankful for my covering. Most people would read this and say “I don’t see what the big deal is, that’s what most college kids do,” but the thing is it’s the norm based off of the world’s standard. I’m so thankful that God showed me that what I thought was normal and okay to live was not His plan for my life. I’m proud to say that I’ve been abstinent for four years, I don’t drink at all (personal choice),  and I’m starting to learn what God created me to do. This is all through the strength of God and not my own. I’m still learning, and I will forever be learning. I thank God for deliverance, (from crazy especially lol) redemption, and restoration.

           I’m aware that when I minister I can come off very strong in addressing sin. That is because I know what it is like to be bound by sin and to be stuck in that cycle and my heart breaks for people who think that it is normal simply because that is what everyone else is doing. I’m not judging people but I’ve been there and I know what it’s like to be in sin and thinking that that way of life is okay and I also know what it is like to be saved by amazing grace and realize that that normal by the world’s standard is miserable. The reason why I talked so bluntly about the sex topic is because sexual sins are one of the biggest issues that people, yes Christians included, struggle with but we never really talk about it or how sex outside of marriage affects people. Soul ties are real; there is a reason that God created sex between a husband and wife and it is not to keep anything good from singles but it is to protect us from unwanted pregnancies, STDS, having abortions, but most importantly spirits that cling onto you from being yoked up with the wrong person. Our bodies are a temple, let’s honor God with it all the days of our lives. Hope this blessed someone :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Today I Choose To Believe The Truth...

 This will be a different kind of post. I don’t typically openly share things that I am presently struggling with because I don’t want to put myself in a space where any and everybody can give their opinions on how to “fix” the problem. It’s really nothing personal against anyone, I just prefer to share sensitive topics with people that I trust and know their intentions are for my good in the feedback that they give me. Nonetheless, I felt led to share and the funny thing is my first thought was uhm…how much do I HAVE to share??? The response? Tell it all…so here we go.

I gave a message at church on 8/25/13 called “Do you want to get well?” I was reading from John 5 where Jesus approaches the lame man who had been this way for 38 years and He asked him, “Wilt thou be made whole?” I talked about how I thought it was crazy that Jesus would ask this man if He wanted to be made well, if he wanted to be healed, if he wanted to be made whole when Christ knew the condition of that man. I talked about how in order for healing to take place, we must first acknowledge that we are sick and in need of healing. I talked about how if we don’t acknowledge that there is a problem, how will we be led to seek a solution? I further went on to say that as the body of Christ we have a tendency to portray ourselves as being perfect Christians; as if we don’t go through anything; that we’re always happy loving Jesus, and never struggling with anything. We portray this image of a perfect Christian when in reality we are in need of a healing but we fail to acknowledge it because we think that people may question our salvation if they really knew the things that we dealt with…as a saved Christian.

These are the words that played in my mind last night as I sat in my room in tears feeling broken down. Here’s a fun life tip: deal with the issues of life before they start dealing with you. I briefly talked in a previous blog about the reason why I decided to become a vegetarian was because I have benign tumors called fibroadenomas that have been growing in my breasts for years. I had a surgery to have three removed in January of 2012 and since then multiple ones have grown. Although I’ve candidly talked about this issue, I’ve only shared with a few people the insecurity that developed from this. After having the surgery last year I became very insecure. I didn’t feel attractive and though no one knew about the scars that I had, I knew they were there and it made me feel like less of a woman. I thought I had gotten over that but the reality was I had just tucked it away and chosen not to deal with it anymore.

In the last month I’ve been considering having the surgery again to have them removed because of the pain and size of them. For whatever reason I decided it was a good idea to get on YouTube (it was not one of my best ideas) and do more research about fibroadenomas and I came across a video of this doctor talking about the breast cancer risks associated with them. Although the likeliness of them turning into breast cancer over time is unlikely, there is a possibility that it can happen and that chance is heightened when you have a high family history of breast cancer which I do. My doctor had already informed me of this, I was well aware of this, but hearing it this time was different. As I lay in my bed last night thinking about it once again, I started to question myself. If I have this surgery again does it mean that I don’t trust God to heal me? Is the surgery God’s answer to relieve the pain and I’m being to spiritually minded to realize it? Do I not have faith in God that He can make it go away? But the one thing that stood out in all these thoughts was this one statement, “But I’m saved, I shouldn’t be feeling like this.” It was like I felt like something was wrong with me because I was breaking down in this way. I had just left from bible study, just finished talking to my mom and my best friend, and then this just kind of came out of nowhere.

I sat in my bed crying and I started to remember all those same things I thought last year when I was so insecure. I began to think again about how I’ve spent the last few years growing my hair out and what if I do get breast cancer and have to go through chemotherapy and I lose all of my hair (vain I know, but it’s my truth). I began to think again about, how am I going to explain these scars to my one day husband? I’m celibate, so what if we get married and he see’s this and decides that he can’t do it and that he doesn’t want to be with me anymore? I began to think about when I have children what if I’m not able to breastfeed? Our boobies are one of the things that make us women; because I have this issue I don’t feel as “womanly.” Not to brag none whatsoever, but I’m typically pretty good at combating negative thoughts right from the get go. I will find some scripture to fit what I need at that moment and I will believe that truth over the lies that are playing in my head. I couldn’t do that last night. I went to tell myself “I am made in God’s image. I am fearfully and wonderfully made” and the next thought was NO, God did not make you with those ugly things. There’s nothing wonderful about them…

At this point, it’s way past midnight and I know I have to get up early for work today and I’m just sitting in my bed crying feeling sorry for myself. I had never been in this place before where I felt like I couldn't encourage myself to get over it. It scared me to be honest because I started to feel consumed by these emotions and I felt like I couldn't fix it, like it was out of my control. I began to think again…why is this still happening when I am at the place that I am in God? The response, wait for it… “Because you chose to believe the lies.” When you give the enemy an opportunity, he will wreak havoc and have a field day in your mind and in your heart. The truth is this, I cry. I cry often. I break down. I’m not perfect. I mess up. I get insecure sometimes. I don’t have it all together. I don’t have it all figured out. However, the bigger truth is this, THAT DOES NOT MAKE ME LESS OF A CHRISTIAN BECAUSE I GO THROUGH THINGS! (That’s in all caps more so as a reminder for me, I’m not yelling at you I promise). It makes me human and in desperate need of Christ. I woke up this morning feeling fine surprisingly (well not surprisingly, we all know how fickle our emotions can be) and I knew it was an attack that I gave into. I knew it wasn’t “real” but the reality was in that moment last night, I felt attacked, by myself, by my own thoughts and I believed it to be real in that moment. I woke up today deciding that I will NOT believe the lies and that I am not defeated. Yes I’m insecure in this area, but that does not put my salvation into question and I am not exempt from feeling this way just because I’m saved. But instead, I’m acknowledging that there is a problem and I’m giving that area to Christ and realizing that I don’t have to be ashamed because I feel this way. It’s my truth and instead of being bound and tormented by what I’m going through, I’m sharing it because I hope it encourages someone else to believe the truth over the lie.

So this is for you. To the person that doesn’t feel good enough, you are (Psalm 139: 13-14). To the person that wants to hide their struggles, you don’t have to go through it alone; there is healing in confessing (James 5:16). To the person that has some "issue" that makes you not feel pretty enough, don't forget where your beauty lies (1 Peter 3:3-4). To the person that doesn’t feel loved, don’t forget who loved you first and still does (John 3:16). To the person that is worried, don’t forget your source of peace (Philippians 4:6-9; Matthew 6:25-34). To the person that feels attacked, don’t forget that you are equipped with armor (Ephesians 6:10-20). To the person that feels tempted, don’t forget that God is with you (1 Corinthians 10:13). To the person that wants to believe the lies, store the truth in your heart (Proverbs 4:23). To the person that’s trying to carry the weight of the world, give it to Jesus (1 Peter 5:7). To the person that feels confused, seek God (2 Timothy 2:7). To the person that feels weak, God is your strength (Isaiah 40:29-31; 2 Corinthians 12: 9-11). To the person that is afraid, don’t forget Who is with you (Psalm 23:4). God has an answer to whatever it is that your problem is. Believe that truth. God bless.

"Morning isn't necessarily what has an a.m. next to it. Morning happens when you wake up. "