The fact that 2019 is ending in less than 24 hours is mind boggling to me. The fact that I am saying goodbye to another decade is even crazier to me. I definitely didn’t feel this way when 2009 was ending and I graduated high school that year. It SHOULD have felt like this. Right?
As I close the door on another year, I always like to look back and see what has changed in the past 12 months. It is nice to reflect and enjoy whatever the year has brought, whether it be good or bad.
However, this feeling of reflection is x3294872943289472 today as I think about the past decade. Seriously, this whole decade ending thing is weighing down my heart as if I’ve missed something in life and I have no idea what it is. When I think about to 2010 and the start of that decade, I definitely had no idea what I was about to embark on. 2010 is the year I met my husband and started dating him. 2010 is the year I figured out I didn’t want to be a lawyer after all. This was HUGE revelation to 18 year old Ashleigh. She had just spent 18 years of her life trying to figure out how to be a lawyer and following the dream she had when she was five. Sometimes, she clung to that dream like a lifeline, like accomplishing being a lawyer would fix all the problems in her life.
If you had told me in 2010 that in 10 years I would have a husband and a 4 year old, I would have laughed you all the way back to the Crazytown you left. I would have told you that love doesn’t exist, men don’t care and love is for weak people. I am not weak, you see. I would have told you that I didn’t want kids because I had zero idea how to be a mom. It doesn’t come naturally to me and I’ll probably end up screwing up the kid.
In ten years, I’ve come back to Jesus. I found the one my soul loves and together we have built this incredible life. This incredible life has had many difficult years and trials. Trials that had marriage ending capabilities. There was a day where I thought for sure my marriage was over. I still remember it very clearly. However, I fought for my husband. Not only did I fight for my husband but he fought for me even harder. Each day, we wake up and choose to love the other, no matter what comes our way.
In the past ten years, I’ve known a lot of loss. I lost my father, which came six years after losing my mother. While my mom passed away before I graduated high school, she didn’t meet my husband or watch me get married. My dad didn’t get to meet his grandson. I did get to tell my dad that I was pregnant. I was surprised at the joy he had at becoming a grandparent but I never got to see the day where he met his grandson come to fruition. I’ve lost grandparents and people in my extended family, I have lost members of my in-love family.
In the past ten years, I’ve experienced a lot of growth. In fact, sometimes I think about the girl I was in 2010 and it feels like it was a different person. 2010 Ashleigh was just as loud and just as obnoxious (if not more, because I’ve grown, ya know) but she was also scared all the time of her life falling through her fingertips. She was terrified of losing the little ounce of control she was clutching to like a lifeline. She was terrified of letting people in because they always hurt her in the end. In the beginning of this decade, I was terrified, sarcastic, controlling, and convinced that everybody would hurt me eventually. If I could distance myself from the hurt or just make the person not hurt me, I’d be okay. Truth is, I wasn’t okay and it took a whole lot of work to get past that. It took a lot of humility and allowing God to heal and move for it to happen.
In the past ten years, I’ve grown distant with people who I’ve thought I would spend my life with. The type of friends that move into the same neighborhood and all that jazz. People that I still consider family I haven’t seen in years and they only live 15 exits away from me on a freeway. (that is like a 20 minute drive for me) I’ve also gained friends that are my family now. I cannot imagine my life without these people. These people that my son loves and calls aunt and uncle. These people that have come up beside me and helped me in areas and times of my life where I was drowning. People that support and encourage my big crazy ideas and believe in me when I say I’m going to write a book.
In the past ten years, I’ve learned that family is an ever evolving definition. I have my biological family, I have my in-love family, I have my church family, I have my friends that are my family. However, all these are technical definitions. Every single person that falls into these categories have loved me at my worst and my best and have taken me under their wing and mentored me. Blood is just something that runs through our veins.
The most important thing I’ve learned in the past ten years is that God always has a plan. As I look back at the past ten years and even past that, I can see God’s hands working in the details of my life. I see with 20/20 vision and understand the lessons I have had to walk through. I understand the growth I’ve had to do in order to chase my own dreams that I didn’t even know I had. (Writing. I am talking about writing. I’ve been writing since I was 16 but it didn’t occur to me that I loved it and wanted to do it until four years ago.) I’ve learned that God’s timing is perfect. He reveals things to us when he knows we will hear it. If you had told me that I would be pursuing writing and in college at age 28 right when I realized I didn’t want to be a lawyer, I would have laughed you away again. There was no way I could be a writer. I had to come back to God, for starters, and I needed to allow him to move in my life in order to see the plan.
In ten years I’ve learned that plans are great but they don’t always work out. I’ve learned that it is okay for plans to not work out. If I had stuck to the plans I had set in 2010, I wouldn’t have this blog. I wouldn’t have published a book. I wouldn’t be sitting in a cute house with my husband working at his computer behind me and our little man snug and asleep in his room.
Sure, plans don’t always work out. Sometimes, the best parts of life come from the broken pieces of those plans. It’s pretty amazing.
I’m excited for 2020 and the next decade. How about you?