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What it is to heal

Today, I realized that I feel like myself again.

I feel like content is a baseline.

No longer am I terrified in my own home, afraid to sleep in my own bed. Now I have a new home, filled with books, and it has a yard for my dogs to run around in, along with a driveway.

I am starting a whole new chapter and beginning my career. I am creating a new life for myself, one where trauma hasn’t taken hold.

Right now, I am all about self compassion and health, and grace and wholeness. My faith is steady and my love of Jesus is solid. I know that God loves me. I am not a failure to him, I am his beloved child, chosen and made whole. Jesus’ sacrifice makes me whole.

The trauma matters significantly less.

This is healing, and I love it.

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Hope in singleness

“I fully trust that what we want will find its way to us, and that we don’t have to “fix” ourselves first in order to get it. We’re just as valid and worthy as everyone else. We don’t have to know the future. It has our back anyway.”

I found this in an article on singleness when the author was talking about the trite “if/then” advice given to singles, and it makes me want to cry.

I am going through a lot of change in my life, after a year that has been very difficult for a myriad of reasons. The loss of my grandmother, finding a relationship, the pandemic, the ending of a job I loved, leaving my abusive relationship, getting a new job, and navigating moving to a different part of the country. It’s all hard!

But that quote, whatever is meant to happen will happen. It will. I tried and tried to find a job close to home and ran into closed doors, and I was very close to giving up my career path, then my boyfriend clamped his paws down and abused me, and two days later, I miraculously nailed my interview and landed a job that I’m hoping is a great fit for me. My spiritual journey is the healthiest it’s been in years. I am running over with gladness and love for God instead of full of doubt. It feels a little bit like things are meant to be. 

I will meet someone who is healthy for me, and is a good addition to my life. I simply need to get to the moment that it happens. And that person won’t tell me I’m too much.

Thank you, article on the internet. 🙂

celebration, singleness, social media, societal expectation

Inspiration?

I have been on Instagram a lot today, mostly liking mental health accounts because seeing positive things in your feed is a good thing. For some reason, my search/suggested feed is FILLED with mom accounts, pregnancy accounts, parenting accounts.

…… I have never seen people without kids get this kind of attention/treatment. There is no singles feed unless you want something snarky that’s lamenting how terrible dating can be.

Celebrating moms is great, but shouldn’t singles be celebrated, too?

I remember talking about this in 2017 when I was deconstructing and getting into egalitarianism, and ….. literally nothing has changed.

That doesn’t disappoint me like it used to; it simply is. 

I don’t need validation from the internet, and I get that parenting is hard and they deserve to be validated, but eventually you kind of quit caring what anyone thinks and you do your own thing.

Now accounts that encourage me to follow Jesus? Those, I’m always up for.

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Update

I tend to write about my spiritual journey on this blog, and what that looks like in my lot in life. I hardly ever write about personal stuff, especially my career.

Anyway.

I am moving away from Joplin in two days and I am all over the map in my feelings about it.

I’m excited that I’m teaching because there was a point in time where I didn’t think I would ever teach again. I’m thankful to my own alma mater for letting me sub and reviving my passion for education. I met a lot of great students, and I discovered my passion for middle school! I got to work with the same group of kids for a few years and I honestly loved it.

I get to teach band! Band is always what I have wanted to teach, so I am excited about this opportunity. I’m not letting myself be a perfectionist this time, nor am I holding myself to impossible standards, so I will lead with compassion and grace, both for myself and my students.

I’m glad I get to take my dogs with me! I have blue heeler and a yorkie and they are my babies, especially my blue heeler. Last time, my mom had adopted a dog a year or so before I moved, and it broke my heart to leave her. This time, my dogs get to come with me! I am excited about that!

There are a lot of unknowns with COVID, and that is stressful and uncertain, but we kind of have to take things one day at a time and not stress too much.

My faith is steady. I know God loves me and is always with me, so I am not alone. My dogs are with me, so I am not alone. It is nice to have Jesus to lean on, and know he understands my struggles and he empathizes with all of them. That is very comforting. I am so thankful that my faith is not up in the air like it was three years ago, because I wouldn’t reach out to people for fear of what they would think (which now I think is dumb), and it all became a big mess. Now I know to find a church and get involved, and find people because we need community to thrive. We are not made to do things alone.

I am able to do therapy online through the end of the year! I was crying in my last therapy session because it’s the week of crying and I didn’t want to leave my therapist, but then he said he could do telehealth even though I am leaving the state and I nearly jumped out of my seat! Lol. I have loved therapy, and it is great to have a therapist who understands your spiritual journey instead of wanting to throw weird platitudes at you.

I get to move to pretty Kansas in a couple of days, and I am feeling all of the things about it.

Hoo boy.

As far as writing is concerned, I feel like I’m at a lull. I read what I needed to read out of Lundy Bancroft’s book Why Does He Do That? which was about abuse, and it answered my questions. Right now, I have started Simply Jesus by N.T. Wright, but I haven’t read much of it. I’m still reading a book of the Bible here and there, and it’s comforting, but I’m trying to not make it such a rigid thing like it was several years ago. I do like reading a book in one sitting because it flows better, instead of feeling like it’s in bits and pieces.

Social media (lol). I am unfollowing pages and groups that don’t speak to me anymore, I’m not sharing my journey as openly as before, and I am looking for more resources for reconstruction! I found a great Facebook group, and I’m hanging onto Facebook for said group. Twitter is hit or miss, as always. Some tweets go viral, others become targets of white nationalist trolls!! Yikes! Such is Twitter.

I feel like I have reconstructed to a healthier version of evangelicalism, or maybe I just love Jesus, but I’m so done with the social justice crowd. I grew tired of the inconsistencies a long time ago, and I don’t care anymore. It’s sticking up for whatever said leaders want to stick up for, meanwhile no one ever sticks up for you know, me, so much like egalitarianism, I am tired of the inconsistencies. I also don’t talk about church much anymore, but I do share my personal journey, as that’s where I am.

I’m wrestling with whether or not to shut down this blog. I have a lot of my journey recorded here; well, as much as I want to be public, and I’m no longer in the same place as I was three years ago. Thank God. I have noticed that a lot of my posts are reactionary and against some Other, instead of a more personal journey that is building and moving forward. Every time I walk away, I always come back.

One thing my therapist told me the other day: systems are never meant to save us. Jesus is what will save us. Many will see that as a dismissal of social justice related struggles, and see me using Jesus as a scapegoat. But complementarianism doesn’t work, egalitarianism isn’t foolproof and has a lot of issues, evangelicalism can be exclusionary, and Progressive Christianity can be reactionary. None of these systems truly work. I think we humans want to find systems and labels because it gives us a sense of belonging. However, if we are trying to fit inside a label, we won’t truly belong, because the second we step out of the label, we are no longer accepted. This is why we must belong to ourselves. It doesn’t matter what you post about on Facebook, or how many snarky tweets you post, what matters is that you are healthy and you love people. Systems cannot save us, but Jesus can.

Go with God.

AC

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Repenting of Smugness

I used to be smug. Perhaps I still am. When I went through my deconstruction in 2016-2018, I was shocked, then full of doubt, then questioning, then reactionary. I kept most of my process off my main Facebook feed, but I was highly reactionary and quite smug. I learned about reading Scripture in context, I was asking all the questions that no one else in my immediate circles were. I knew more than they did, stupid evangelicals. Ugh. I am at least thankful that I didn’t publicly blast people on my Facebook feed for my entire friend’s list to see, but I used to complain in closed Facebook groups open. I don’t think I ever got very snarky on Twitter, but I was snarky at times. I got mad about things that didn’t affect me and that I had never experienced. I spent time in a tear down phase and didn’t engage with hope hardly at all. I suppose that is part of the process, but I feel so embarrassed by it now. Earlier today, a post popped up in my Facebook memories about church and justice and I had remarked that it was “great to hear about Jesus and caring about other people,” of course, implying that those other Christians don’t actually care about other people. I was obsessed with the speck in everyone else’s eye, meanwhile I ignored the plank in my own. We can’t sit and call out other people’s journeys with God because we are not the author of their journey. That is between the individual and God. I have shifted theologically on several points, but I do not expect or demand anyone else be where I am. My journey to where I am now is my own; and everyone else’s journey is completely valid and worthy of respect. Every time I open my social media feeds, I see smugness out of people. I’m tired of it, and I don’t want to be like that. I’m tired of cancel culture, tired of dunks, tired of people being put on blast. I wish we would all be kind, and be like Jesus. Jesus didn’t spend his life calling out others, he came to point people to freedom. Smugness, cancel culture, blasting other people isn’t freedom. It definitely isn’t helpful. We must be like Jesus. I must be like Jesus. May love come to life inside of me.

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Jesus is the point of our spiritual journey

I started this blog to process my deconstruction journey, and a lot of my posts have focused on the experiences of being a single woman in the church.

I have been reading Scripture a lot lately and ……

singleness and marriage is barely mentioned.

It’s not there! I don’t understand why we talk about these issues and have entire ministries built around marriage/family when it’s barely a thought in the Bible. You know what is in the Bible? Following Jesus. Jesus is all over the place. It’s almost like he’s the main point.

The church is missing the boat on this.

We need to encourage people to follow Jesus in whatever situation they find themselves in. You matter, as you are, right now.

You aren’t worth more if you’re married, or more if you’re single.

What matters is that you love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.

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A month of healing

40.

That is how many blog posts I have written since that Monday night.

I haven’t written anything publicly as far as processing is concerned, mostly because I haven’t been able to find the words. I was in a state of shock there for a couple of weeks, and shock slowly turned to abject terror. I was terrified to be in my own home, afraid to sleep in my own bed, as that was where his hand went around my neck. I was afraid to come home from work. I got incredibly anxious at night to the point of having anxiety attacks. At one point, I displayed PTSD symptoms. I didn’t think things would get better. My life was a horror show.

I was dumbfounded as to how I could know about healthy relationships and still end up in a situation that was abusive. As I look back I can see red flags all over the place: he demeaned his ex wife, he got serious about me very quickly. You can’t say you love someone when you haven’t seen their worst moments. He said he was supportive of my career, then he backtracked and I had to teach something else. I had to make all of the compromises in the relationship, and when I said something about it to my online friends, I was told that I had to compromise because he had a kid. It was like I had to give up everything because someone else had a child, while they gave up nothing. It wasn’t equal at all.

He slowly became controlling. As I tried and failed to find a job in my field locally, he clamped down. I had to fit in his box of what he wanted. I hated the person I was when I was around him. One day, I realized that I hated myself as I was in the relationship, and I couldn’t stand to be around him. I was becoming a shell of the person I once was.

He called me degrading names. He said he wanted to kill my dogs. He was trying to get me to give up my career, yet he said he was supportive. He refused to compromise. I had to fit in his box.

He was emotionally abusive.

When someone is constantly degrading you, and trying to change you and control you, it is abuse. Abuse is about control of another human being. It is about power over someone else. I have learned that such abuse happens because of the abuser’s beliefs about their victims. They are entitled and think the other person should revolve around them. They see the other person as an object to control.

Emotional abuse can make you feel crazy. You will second guess yourself. You will slowly start to feel like a shell of the person you once were. It is degrading and humiliating.

I have tried to find some lesson from all of this, and find somewhere I went wrong during this relationship. All I can come back to is two truths: this was his fault, and we must create our boundaries and stick to them. How another person treats you is never your fault. Someone can start out kind and later change into a different person. The way they treat you is not your fault. You are only responsible for your own actions. We have to know what we want in a partner and out of life and we must refuse to compromise on that. Yes, being single can be hard, and you may feel like you will never meet anyone. Yes, dating sucks. But no one deserves to be treated like a doormat by another person. If a person won’t step up to the plate and support you, including your dreams and goals and your career, they are not a good person for you. You have to do what’s best for you, no matter the cost. You have to stay true to yourself. 

Personally, I am healing. It’s tough at times, but I have had occurrences that remind me of how much I love God, and that I will be okay. I am excited to be starting a new job soon, and I look forward to the lives I will impact there. I am doing things I love, instead of doing what someone else wants. I have a dog who loves me, and I have loved seeing her blossom since he has been gone. My dog brings me joy. She is my best friend, and I love her to death.

I have been reading Scripture and it has been healing. Focusing on God has been a lifeline. I know that God is bigger than I am, and that he has a plan for me, and I am comforted by that.

Things are getting better. I am becoming the person I want to be, and I thank God that I didn’t give up on myself to fit in some man’s box. We aren’t made to fit in someone else’s cage. We are made to fly free.

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Clarity

I feel like God may be “calling me,” if I believe in that anymore, to focus on my career. That’s what is in front of me right now, and I feel like if I am meant to have someone in my life, that person will naturally show up in my life. Right now, I need to focus on what is in front of me, which is teaching band, and reading Scripture and developing myself as a person.

The biggest lie of being single is feeling there is no one on my team. I can’t pretend that trying to find someone is working, though. It isn’t. I am tired of putting myself in energy wasting and toxic dating situations at best, and abusive relationships at worst.

I have God, and I have myself. Right now, I have a wonderful career in front of me. It comes with its challenges, but with support, I can do it. I can reach for the stars and reach them, instead of being held back by someone who wants to drag me down.

I am done with dating.

This isn’t resigned defeat, it’s a choice to go down a different path and trust that God has my back and that he’s got the details worked out.

God cares about me, this much I know is true. And God doesn’t want me to constantly be in toxic situations, and I’m tired of giving men who don’t bring anything to the table the opportunity to be in my life and derail me from what God has for me.

Thanks be to God I am realizing this. Thanks be to God for a path change. Thanks be to God for reconstruction.

Thanks be to God for additional chances.

His grace extends further than we imagine and his love never ends.

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Going viral!

I posted a tweet the other day about how we should affirm single women, and I subtweeted a platitude and mentioned leaving an abusive relationship, and I’m sitting at 3,400+ likes!! It’s insane. My notifications won’t stop.

Here it is:

 

<blockquote class=”twitter-tweet”><p lang=”en” dir=”ltr”>“Use your singleness to prepare for your spouse”…. I did that, and it destroyed my faith when he never showed up, and I recently got out of an abusive relationship, so perhaps we should simply affirm single women as whole people?</p>&mdash; Ashley Brooke (@ashbc) <a href=”https://twitter.com/ashbc/status/1279954832305119233?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>July 6, 2020</a></blockquote> https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

 

The attention it has garnered has been crazy.

I guess I know what it’s like to go viral.

Now to log off for the day.

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Healing, somewhat

As I’ve processed the events that happened in my life a few weeks ago, I feel like I have finally calmed down and am operating at a baseline normal. I’m not scared to come home anymore, I can sleep, it is good. My faith has been getting me through, and I have taken to reading a book of Scripture each night and it has surprisingly helped. So far I’ve read Hebrews, Galatians, and 1 Corinthians. I haven’t read anything the last two nights, although I want to start reading again. I listened to KLove on the way home the other day and a song came on that I liked, and I kept wondering who the artist was because I liked his voice. It turns out, it was one of my favorite artists. I like Josh Wilson, too. Anyway, that all reminded me of how much I used to care about God several years ago, and I felt like I was going to be okay. Since then, I’ve felt immensely better.
 
Which brings me to this: I keep finding myself returning to my old faith elements. The things that drove me crazy two years ago are comforting again, and it bothers me so much because I see Christians berating others on here for wearing masks, for wanting to curve the pandemic, for voicing concern for Black people. It feels like a crazy kind of cognitive dissonance to find all of this stuff comforting, yet so many adherents do and say things that are the opposite of what Jesus would want. I don’t intend to broadbrush and say that “all evangelicals” do this, because that is not true at all. But it’s seems odd to me that the thing that is getting me through is being turned around and weaponized against me and other people. I don’t quite know what to do about that. At least I follow Jesus and not people, as comforting? or not? as that is.