Story of Hope: Ashley G
Some stories of hope are harder to share than others, because they come from a place of deep hurt. They take vulnerability and genuine honesty to share. When Ashley told us about her story of relationships and struggles to find self-worth and her identity in Christ, she said she had never shared it in this amount of detail and honesty before, but she knew God was prompting her to do so. “I know there are people out there who can relate and who need to be encouraged to find hope in the same ways I did.” Thank you for boldly sharing this piece of your heart, Ashley.
It was November 2013. I walked away from not only a verbally and mentally abusive, but also controlling relationship of almost two years with a guy I had started dating during my senior year of college. We were on and off again, hate me one day, love me the next, want to marry me one day and the next day threatening to break up. When things were good they were really good but when things were bad they were really bad. Emotionally I became very unstable and very insecure because as time went on I lost more and more of myself in this relationship—to the point where my friends, family and even I couldn't recognize myself. The night that I decided to end the relationship for good was a few days after my 25th birthday and it was extremely hard because on one hand I knew it was the right thing but on the other hand I thought to myself, “Well maybe it’s not that bad and things could be worse, and who knows—we will probably end up back together again because dysfunction is what I have become accustomed to.” But I had to remind myself with the little self worth that I did have left that I deserved more.
I felt broken, hopeless, a failure, very defeated, guilty, confused and very angry at God but I knew deep down it was the right thing to do so I trusted God. I begin to pray for him every single day—that God would bless him and open doors for him in more ways than one. Weird, I know, but I truly desired for God to heal my hurt because I could no longer walk around with the burden of shame and guilt for that relationship or continue to blame myself. When I first started praying for him it was extremely hard because I didn't feel he deserved God's grace after how he had treated me, broken my heart and shattered my confidence, but I continued to pray and trust God. One day I prayed for God to bless him abundantly in more ways than one and I actually genuinely meant it from my heart and felt a sense of peace that I hadn't felt in a really long time. After this relationship I struggled with self-worth, feeling the need to be validated by a man so I started lowering my standards more and more and caring less and less. I was going back down a dangerous cycle.
Fast forward to October 2015. I found myself in yet another relationship with a guy I knew from the very beginning I shouldn't have been with, but because once again I was feeling the stress of being single forever and had hopes of things changing, and hoping God would save him, I thought maybe if I led by example enough he would want to change on his own. I think we all know that is not what happened. The same dysfunction surfaced and I found out that he had been with another girl while we were together. Once again my heart was shattered and I was left feeling betrayed and empty. I was very angry, cut him off, and ignored him for a while but then the loneliness and the doubt came back. “Maybe you should give him another try,” sank in so I caved and took him back and I continued to compromise my standards in more ways than one. I was feeling more guilty and very far away from God as time went on.
Fast forward to November 2016. I had been praying and really seeking God for the past few months and making some changes in the relationship that was clearly causing a lot of conflict. I had been putting my foot down and was determined to stop compromising what I knew was right. The week of my birthday I was seeking God harder than ever and seeking wise counsel from close friends and family who were encouraging me and reminding me of my worth and assuring me that God would lead me in the right direction if I just trusted him. November 20th, my Pastor preached a powerful sermon called "Unblock It" and during the sermon he stated that some of us are blocking our blessings because we are holding onto things that we know we need to let go of. The tears started flowing for the remainder of the experience and I could not stop them. He was with me at church that sunday and was extremely confused because he didn't know why I was crying to begin with. We rode back from church pretty much in silence but I knew what I needed to do deep down inside and that was the confirmation I needed to finally walk away from the relationship. Of course the chatterbox started with, "Ash, you are going to be 28 in two days and single AGAIN and you are now guaranteed to spend your birthday alone because those birthday plans you two had planned are no longer going to happen and thanksgiving is right around the corner. Really think about this before you do this, Ash." Even with all of that I fought through the negative thoughts and decided to truly trust God and break off the relationship with him. He was extremely confused and caught off guard and defensive, but I knew I had to be obedient to Jesus and act immediately with no hesitation. I called a close friend and she came over and prayed with me because she knew the journey for me wasn't going to be easy.
It was by far one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make, but Ephesians 3:20 kept ringing in my heart, "Now unto him that is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think according to the power that worketh in us he said be unto us." This scripture reminded me of the hope that we have in Jesus. I became very confident that when God takes something away it is only because He plans to replace it with something much better.
My obedience and courage in this situation was not easy but my hope was restored. A few short months later a man of God that I had met at church two years previously was brought back into my life in a very different capacity. God opened my hurt and showed me that he could restore what was broken. This man is now my boyfriend and we are in a very committed relationship that is honoring to God in every way. I pray this story encourages you not to lose hope, no matter what your situation is or how how much brokenness you've experienced, things will happen in God's perfect timing. Don't rush Him—just enjoy the process and become the best version of yourself so that when it is time, you're ready to receive.