Today is my first post and I figured I'd start with a heavy one. There are many, many reasons why I started Olive Ashby and this post contains a key reason -
You're blessed when you are content with who you are - no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. -Matthew 5:5 The Message Lord how I wish the verse above we're true in my life. But the truth is I have been far from content with who I am for most of my life. I have been riddled with shame, unworthiness, lies, and feelings of un-fulfillment. These feelings are so large that they invade me. Over the last few years I have been filling voids, cleaning out my thought closet, and trying to better understand the woman God has intended me to be through Bible studies and surrounding myself with Godly friends. But I still had this ugly covering that I could not shake off. Looking back at the last couple of years it's as if I finally put on the cleaning gloves and took out the cleaning spray (filled with a mixture of vinegar and water of course) and got to work with scrubbing off the layers of shame I have lived behind for too long. The first step was sharing my testimony. I had been a member of my church’s Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPs) group and at the end of my first year, our steering team requested members to participate in "tea and testimony.” There was something that kept urging me to participate. And so I did. There was nothing remarkable about my story. I mainly shared my childhood and a bit about my college years. It was rather short but as the tears flowed down my face, I was relieved to share. As I did, I looked up at the other moms and saw that despite my past, they still wanted to walk alongside me in the future. What a relief it was to share my past, and a much bigger relief to receive hugs and words of encouragement at the conclusion from people I very much admired. Some shared that they had similar experiences or understood my trials. One comment and hug I received was from a dear friend. A dear friend, who less than a year later, would be in heaven because she was called home to be with her Savior and leave a legacy behind that spread her love for Jesus much further than she could have imagined. How blessed I am to have shared that hug, and how blessed I am to have given up that part of my testimony and have shared that experience with sweet friends. What a special moment I would have missed if I had not answered to that pit in my stomach urge to give up my story and the shame I allowed it to cast on me. As that layer was removed, I felt a freedom that summer, and I felt like a new person. A little of it may have had to do with my one year old finally sleeping through the night, but I believe a lot more was due to no longer having that one extra piece of baggage I call shame. That summer as my family took a tour of the south visiting and celebrating 50th anniversaries and retirements, I came alive. The sight of my college campus and taking my little ones through Landis Green and Ruby Diamond Auditorium allowed me to see how much had happened in such a short time. I was also reminded of the many poor decisions I made on that same campus and that my testimony in the spring was just the beginning of giving up of myself.
On our long thirteen hour car trip home I found myself alive with excitement and the idea of starting a bow tie company came to life. I created patterns while folding scraps of papers and determined material cost and retail sales. I suppose that's how it happens sometimes.
We take one little step, and that leads to another that helps you find yourself. Find the real person that's been there waiting to soak in the blessings and live in a place where you're simply happy with your place in life. It's the complete opposite of complacency as it provides so much freedom. What a blessing our testimony is. What a gift.