Learning by Extremes (Part 3)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  Matthew 7:7 NIV

Dreams die tragic deaths. At least I thought they did.

When I was a high school freshman, I created a vision board; it lived on my wall until my sophomore year of college. Not knowing that the board was called a vision board then, I created it so that I had a place—right beside my bed—to see my dreams. With colored pencils in hand, I scrolled across the top of the poster board a popular quote by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or cannot, you’re right.” (At the time, I thought my high school principal created that nugget, but I digress.) There were books on it that I compiled and other things I’d written. There was a dance studio with a flat footed ballerina at the barre. There was a fashion line and snazzy accessories. The famed drama masks, with one smiling and the other crying. There was a microphone to symbolize public speaking; there was travel and my faith infused on it. I was optimistic! Life promised so much! College was to going to be my launching pad.

Yet an accident took dance from me.

Yet a college instructor told me that no one “like me” could “possible write this well” when I was accused of plagiarism.

Yet I stopped theatre so that I could get a “good paying, stable job.”

Yet I hadn’t traveled much anywhere except the study hall or the 12-hour-shift job I had at the local mall.

Yet I had lost my voice and only spoke with anger.

I snatched the poster off my wall the moment I had to move back home from college…just 48 hours after I had a nervous breakdown in the middle of the campus one frigid February afternoon. I’d lost my faith. I’d lost the capacity to dream. And the blood curdling scream I let out that day—the subsequent steps to the College of Education so I could academically withdraw, the attempt to pack up my things, the conversation with that health center therapist—was my last cry for many years. I was nineteen years old. Life lied.

Now, a decade later, my eyes are welling with tears of unyielding joy as I share my testimony. God’s restored everything—EVERYTHING!—I dreamed of all those years ago in ways I could not imagine! I dance again, harder and with more passion than I ever did before. I sell accessories and I’m working on the fashion dream now. I minister through the Arts. I’ve written for some of the most influential online publications of the past decade. I travel quite a bit and international travel is just around the corner. I’m meeting new people, impacting lives in amazing ways; and, I did write one book…but the calling to create the next one is upon me. (And I’ll need your help. More on this later!)

I tried to repress what I wanted, what I’d asked God for. I won’t lie to you and say that I did not try for many years to forget these things. And even when I’d pray for God to lead me in the direction of stability, He’d point me back towards the things I’m most passionate about. I was too hard-headed, too invested in thinking my happiness was attached to doing things the conventional way (go to school, get a job with benefits, settle down, have kids, blah blah blah) that I spent a long time absolutely miserable. That was…isn’t…the life I’m called to live. My soul kept asking for what I wanted and God is giving it to me.

Guess what, friend? Your dreams are next. I quoted the New International Version of today’s Scripture, but take this translation with you:

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7 New Living Translation

~ Ashley



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