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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

10 Things I think... I’m learning how to trust God with my heart.

God has a funny way of cutting and clearing things. Sometimes I think he/she/they might be a little too good. I'd like to have that one back, please. God has me in a place of transition where I'm wrestling with things I couldn't face in my 20s. This uber transparent blog will walk you through my transition and what I hope will be a beautiful growth in 2021. I was skeptical to call this my year because ummm... well... 2020 was a fiery dumpster sent on a first class flight to hell. It was hard, y'all. 2021 came in the door tearing stuff up in the garden of my soul and it was upsetting me and homegirls. Who told this year to start off with detaching me from things and people to making me have daily self sessions with hard truths. Like, um 2020 me please because at least I was able to pretend then. The veil has been lifted and now I gotta actually do something about it.

1. Abandonment. I have always struggled with abandonment- in my platonic and romantic relationships. Somewhere along the way I learned that people leave. For that reason, I spent much of my life figuring out what other people needed to stay while never asking myself. That back burner analogy- hell, mine was in the other room. I never asked what I needed to be in healthy relationship with others and once I did I was too afraid to demand it. How dare I tell a man my line in the sand and expect him to still want to stick around?!? Abandonment will have you toxically staying attached while calling it loyalty. Boy am I learning that the chickens

always come home to roost. I'm learning that when people go- let them. Always. All ways.

2. Fear-Based Decision Making. I didn't realize how much of a unhealthy relationship I was in with fear. I mean fear was the partner you just sort of kept around because they were familiar. You didn't have to pull out any bells and whistles. You can make fear the same spaghetti for 20 years and it will still be there. Fear has been a major part of my life since I was a child. I grew up terrified of everything and a lot of people. And fear is still very present in my life. It told me recently that God couldn't/wouldn't bless me to have healthy partnership. I listened to that for many years and used it as the reason I heard on so tightly to people- who wants to be alone? I listened to that lie until about two weeks ago. It was literally the first time in 34 years I disrupted fear. I literally responded "and I choose to believe that's not true". And I know where I got that fear from as it relates to dating/partnership. People. People are cruel to women who are unmarried and without children. Hell they're even more awful to the women who have children but are unmarried as if they self created offspring. But. Folks give themselves permission often to comment on my single status. "Are you ready to settle down?" Nah, Brenda but your mustache clearly was. When I say that back, I'm wrong though. Anywho... there's a lot of pressure on women to have these titles. And the older you get, folks really have something to say about the babies. I remember at 32 I was told, "You almost waited too long"... If waiting this long means finding me and dealing with my trauma before adding another human to the heart- so be it. I want to be a WHOLE momma.

3. Lying to yourself. Eventually your soul gets tired of you lying to you. Let's be honest, we aren't the most honest creatures. I mean some of us are better than others but overwhelmingly, I haven't met many honest people. And a lot of the lying we do is to ourselves. You know good and well when you need to leave Troy alone but "maybe he could grow into the person you need". He won't or by the time he will, your needs will have evolved again. We know sometimes that we need to make hard decisions and we put them off for years. I'm sure many folks have transitioned into ancestors without having half of the honest conversations they needed to. Are you lying to you?

4. Not trusting God with my heart. Well, it's no surprise that I've been a terrible giver of my heart to God. I've given it to countless humans but when it comes to God I need a sign that involves an eagle carrying a drumstick from Church's chicken while playing "Air Force Ones" by Nelly & the St. Lunatics. You get my point. I have optimistically handed over my heart with little regard to humans who are a lot like me- they get it wrong. God be like, "Trust me" and I be like, "Let's the lights flash off & on".

5. I only kinda meant that prayer I said. I think God may be a little more literal than I anticipated. I thought he wanted beautiful soliloquies and he/she/they really are shaking his head like "That's all you want?!?!?". And then you end up with a partner that "has all their side teeth" because that's all you asked for. This year, I'm writing a list. "Cleans under their nails", "wipes down groceries with Clorox wipes"- hell, I'm listing it all. AND. I'm not giving God anymore kinda prayers. Chile, I am notorious for a "if it's not for me, take it away" prayer knowing I don't actually want it gone. Baby, I have all but asked God to return to sender before lol!

6. You can't outrun your time to grow. When it is your season of growth, you can kick, scream and cry and YOU STILL GOTTA GROW THROUGH IT. There's no escaping this growth. It's all encompassing. You think you're gonna hop that flight to Atlanta and it'll be on that plane, in your seat. I get it- it's weird and painful but lean in.

7. Expecting something good. Growing also implies showing up differently. In my case this means reprogramming my brain to expect something good can actually happen. My first inclination is to assume gloom & doom and that's left me with so much anxiety. That's so heavy to carry- that feeling that it's all crumbling. Nah. I'm learning how to disrupt that with expecting that good can happen even if it doesn't.

8. New toolset. Part of growing is recognizing your childhood toolset may not serve you as well as you thought. If you sit long enough and listen to your response to trauma, you will hear how and why you acted in that way. You have to be able to situate that within your current life and ask- Is it still serving you? And then practice #3. Don't lie to yourself about it. You can't be threatening to whoop ass in the parking lot at work because there are real consequences to that now- even if there were none before. It doesn't serve you to be whooping ass the same way- evolve queen. Learn how to send nice-nasty emails instead.

9. Learning to live loved. Living loved is the cure for living with all the numbers above. Learning that you are loved and allowing yourself to receive and give love is essential to growth. I have allowed my friends to love on me differently. I've allowed my family the same. And I'm giving myself the same opportunity. And I'm extending it differently, also. Sometimes you need a reminder that you are loved and I want to get to a point where I can give that to myself. So God has his/her/their whisperings of love to me daily. It just took for me to get quiet to hear them.

10. Seaux. Imagine your soul as a garden (The Shack reference) and you've filled it with some pretty ugly things because life ain't always been so kind. Now you actually need that garden because you want to plant something, grow something and then be able to feed yourself from the bounty. The clearing transitions are hard because we've grown pretty attached to that crooked tree (dysfunction), that tire (lying to yourself and others) and that old can (expecting that bad things will happen). You realize these things no longer serve you long before you ever sit with that and change it. So I think sometimes we have an incubator experience with God and that can either be perceived as punishment or enlightenment. Initially, this felt like punishment and now I know how privileged I am to know that God ain't invested in me hurting. God doesn't need our hurts and groans so he can swoop in and be the good guy. I think God hurts when we hurt even when we brought it on ourselves. I'm learning that even when things hurt- God cares.

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