Sometimes Answered Prayers Suck!

There’s this country song that says “sometimes God’s greatest gift is unanswered prayer.” It’s a kind of lovely notion. You pray for something, it doesn’t happen but in the end something better does.

But that’s not what this is about. Oh how I would be grateful for unanswered prayers after nights like last night.

Instead, last night was a friendly reminder that sometimes God’s most painful gift is a big fat “No.”

So here’s the thing. It may be hard to tell, and that’s probably a problem, but I do believe in God. I struggle with the God presented to me in church. Somehow a loving father figure who along the lines of history has conveniently hated and condemned large groups of people based on what the highly conservative Christian church has decided is unworthy (think black people, gay people, women and anyone else middle age white men have taken issue with). I believe in a God of love and compassion…for all. He’s working on me.

Anywho…

So, as a result of my beliefs I do pray. I pray for all sorts of things, help, strength, knowledge, discernment, a man. Y’all. God is probably so sick of me praying for a man that I’m pretty sure every time it happens he just looks like this 🤦🏽‍♂️. Like dear lord make it stop…oh wait…that’s me.

But here I am. 30 years old. Single and seriously beyond tired of attempting to mingle that I’m so ready to just wrap it up and give up for ever.

Because here’s what happens. Every time. Without fail.

I’m minding my own business. Trying to live my best life. I’ve got my amazing daughter, my beautiful and loving family, and the best friends a girl could ask for. I am not bothering anyone. I’m not looking. Being single is not the biggest concern of my life. But I get bored. I get the itch. “Man. It sure would be nice to have a relationship.” So, I throw it out there. People tell me all the time “you won’t meet anyone sitting in the House knitting Ashley.” So I go out. Or I get on Tinder. Usually Tinder because I don’t go out much. Sometimes I get on. Swipe for a few days. Get annoyed and get off. If I’m lucky this is what happens. Or I go out and don’t meet anyone and life goes back to normal. But sometimes, the stars align and I go out, and so does someone else, we meet, and seem to hit it off. Or I swipe right and they do too and conversation begins. Numbers are exchanged and things seem to go well.

Fun fact: I have a deep rooted fear of being wanted only for sex and also getting into “situationships.” You know, I like you, you like me, we do all the things couples do but never commit. Yea I have spent most of my adult life in situationships so I’m not trying to do that any longer.

Fun fact: I feel it in my soul that I am meant to be someone’s rib. Someone’s support. Someone’s calm and safe place at the end of a bad day. Someone’s cheerleader and support at the end of a good day. There is no way God put all this yearning for love inside of me for it to just sit there almost to the point of explosion.

So, long story short. Without fail here is what happens. My insecurities start to kick him. Probably triggered by some sort of yellow or red flag that I’m working on getting better at reading. Something isn’t sitting right with my soul.

I then pray, what I have come to realize, is the only prayer that without fail I get almost an immediate answer too. Like I pray for stuff and sometimes I wonder if it just gets lost in the clouds somewhere. But this prayer is my direct line to Jesus. It’s like before it leaves my lips I have sent it straight via email to his throne in heaven and it bypasses any other prayers he may be working on. What is it you may ask?

“Lord. If this man is not meant for me. Please let him slip through my fingers before I start to hold on too tight.”

That’s it. Short. Simple. To the point. And without fail. Within 24-48 hours. I receive confirmation that they are not meant for me. Usually just the conversation is had. A lot of times it’s not initiated by me. Or sometimes they do or say something that I have to acknowledge as a large red flag. But it happens. Every time.

Sometimes I fight it. I beg and plead with God to not let it be true. I cry. A lot. And sometimes I stick around only to be miserable and have to walk away later.

It always sucks. It always hurts. And like last night, if there really wasn’t anything wrong and it just really could have been the right person but not the right time, I can literally feel the piece of my heart break off as it chooses to kind of stick around with the other person as I have to walk away.

There’s probably way to many men walking around this world who don’t know they are carrying small pieces of my beautiful, loving, caring, supportive heart. While I sit back night after night fearful, and hurting, and struggling, and wondering “why me” “what’s wrong with me.” And praying I don’t give it all away and one day have nothing left.

So. I’ll end here. Part of me says, never pray that prayer again because the answer is too painful. But part of me knows, especially over the last year, each time it’s answered I learn something, and I grow. I think it’s coming. I hope it’ll happen for me. I doubt it. And sometimes like now I have restless nights where I cry and beg and plead and wonder if those prayers are just getting stuck in the land of lost prayers. I consider giving up. I do for a while. But then I’ll get the itch again and it’ll all start over.

But for now… sweet dreams.

To the ones I’ve failed

Tonight, my soul is heavy. I know that as far as career paths go, I am on the right track. I love what I do, but it’s tough work. I’ve wrote about it in previous post but if you are unaware, I am a therapist. Therapist, counselor, pain holder, emotion feeler, walk wither. I sit with people in moments when most people run away. I have only been doing this work for a short period of time, but in these few years I have met some amazing people and heard some terrifying stories. I have been touched and I have been forever changed by many people I have come in contact with.

I currently work with adolescents with severe mental health and behavioral issues. I love what I do. I feel like everyone I went to grad school with already knew their niche. They knew what they wanted to do, where they wanted to do it, and with what population they wanted to work with. They even knew their theoretical orientation (I question that I have feared since everyone said I would be asked all the time but have not actually been asked since grad school).

I knew one thing. People always talk about working with “at risk youth.” While that is great work, I always wondered “well what about the kids beyond that. The ones in the risk. The ones doing the stuff. Who helps them?” It was the spark of a passion that I set out to find an answer to.

I did my practicum at the jail working with adolescent males. I have always said I would go back to jail in a heartbeat if given the opportunity! I did my internship at a shelter for pregnant, homeless women. I enjoyed this as well. My first job was at a methadone clinic. Here I met some of the most amazing, sincere, beautifully broken people I have ever come into contact with. Addictions work will forever hold a place in my heart. All of these places led me closer to the answer to my question.

I currently work at a psychiatric residential treatment facility (PRTF). These are the kids that are living the risk. They have stepped beyond “at risk”. They are actively and daily engaging in risky behavior. Some enjoy it. Some don’t see a way out of it. Some have never known anything different. This is my population. (Obviously though the kids in jail also meet this qualification hence the reason I would go back in a heartbeat).

When people describe me, they often use words like calm, steady and they do this motion where they hold they hold their hand out flat and just move it slowly side to side. I think to indicate the calm and steady idea. I used to be offended by this. I now realize it is my greatest strength in working with the kids that I love. These kids have lived in some form of chaos the majority of their life whether internal or external. Most people have not responded to them neither calm nor steady. I can. In a strange way, I thrive in the chaos of my job. Not the chaos of the paperwork or work related drama. But my favorite part of my day is when someone comes to tell me one of my kids is acting a fool on the hall and can I help. I’m not always successful but I try. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the kid is so far gone in the moment that other methods of getting them to calm down have to be implemented. As painful as that is to watch, I stay, calm and steady, to remind them that no matter what…I am there. No matter how mad they get, how much they hate me, how many names they call me, or how much spit they haul my way. I am there.

I think I have done good work. My job is a thankless one. Most days I can thank myself and see the work I’ve done. I’ve never received gifts or thank yous from kids who have left. I don’t expect them. I don’t think that determines whether or not I’ve done good work either. I have sewn seeds. Add that to the list from earlier, seed sewer. For some I have been a support they’ve never had, for some I’ve been an advocate, for others just a listener, and I may have taught a couple of them a thing or two. They have taught me way way more.

But

Sometimes I fail. And not in a sense where I think I have done a terrible job. That’s usually the first thing people say. “You aren’t a failure. It’s not your fault.” Of this I am aware. But I have still failed them. Or the system did and I was a par of that. No matter what I did or didn’t do, could or couldn’t do, no matter how much I cared or how much I wanted to help. I couldn’t. Not in the way I had hoped, not in the way I believe I could have if given the opportunity.

There are two that stick out and hurt me daily. For these two I have cried many times. I have questioned myself. I have sought supervision. I have prayed. There will be a place in my heart for them for all eternity. I will always wonder “what happened to them” and I will always fear that the failure of the system may result in deadly consequences. To them, I apologize. I also thank them for teaching me more about myself than I could realize was possible.

Soul # 1. You will forever be skip-bo, white people eating steak pink in the middle, origami hearts and butterflies, this place, fingers, walls, doors, yelling, pain, I love you Ms Ashley, and same names. Thank you. I’m sorry.

Soul # 2. You will forever be ginger bread men, toddlers, tantrums, anger, counting, shoes, Ms Ashley you’re fat, spitting, helping, basketball, 100% effort, hurt, small steps, bad words, always move forward never backwards, and Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang, Gucci gang. Thank you. I’m sorry.

Tonight. My soul is heavy. My fear is, it will be this way for a long time. My fear is, no one will understand. My fear is, no one else will see the importance in helping.

So This is 30!

I have officially entered the 30 club! Whoop whoop! I received about as close to a parade for my 30th birthday as possible. Thank you again to all my friends and family who showed up and showed out for little OLD me! As far as birthdays go it was pretty wonderful.

So now a time of reflection.

The last three decades have definitely been interesting. Living all over the world (or at least Europe) as a child, moving back to America as a pre-teen, middle school (ugh), high school, teen pregnancy, motherhood, college, grad school, first job, first counseling jobs, Love, heartbreak, Love again, heartbreak again, and ultimately self-love. Obviously a very condensed nutshell of my life so far.

Here are my hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for my 30’s:

Continued but unwavering self-love. I plan to love myself so much that the next time someone comes a long and it doesn’t work,or if no one comes a long at all, or if they do and it does work, that my love for myself does not waver or weaken or crumble. Honestly, this is a tough one.

More travel. Wether it’s around the world or up the street. I don’t care. Just do it. And take Taylor with.

Save money. This is an area I struggle with to the pits of my soul. But somethings gotta give.

One day make enough money to move out of my parents house but also still be able to afford to eat on a daily basis.

Do more things alone. I spent the last decade or so doing a lot of waiting for someone else to do things with. Autumns came and went where I didn’t go on awesome fall dates because there was no one to take me. Museums have been unvisited. Movies were left unseen. Restaurants were left untried. Because for some reason in my head, to do things alone was the ultimate form of sadness. My fellow bloggers write a lot about dating or dating experiments. Dating scares me. Maybe I will blog about my solo dates…hmmm.

Which leads me to,

Go on more dates. I honestly don’t know why the idea of going out with someone I don’t really know to well scares me but it does. Especially if this person was found on a dating app. People are crazy. I’m not trying to be no ones breaking news or lifetime movie. But, alas, it is the way the rest of the world works so it’s time to hop on board the dating train.

Find a workout/exercise/healthy living routine I actually enjoy. Kind of self explanatory really. Any suggestions?

Learn to knit things that aren’t rectangular. I knit a lot of scarves, blankets, things that look round but are really just rectangles sewn together. Gotta learn some advanced techniques.

Learn to leave people on “read.” This could probably be an entire blog post in itself and maybe one day it will be. But for now, just thinking of it as learning to walk away and not feel bad for doing so when relationships end or even just conversations.

So yea. I think that’s pretty much it. Pretty standard stuff really. Obviously the list has the ability to be adjusted and tweaked as needed. I feel like an official adult now! Not sure how I made it here but here I am. At the very least it should result in a few entertaining blog post!

What are/were your hopes, dreams, prayers, demands, #goals for your 30’s?

Jesus loves me this I know…because everyone and their mama keeps telling me so!! 

First off let’s get something straight. I known Jesus. I love him. He loves me. We have a special relationship like everyone else should. So please do not take this as some post confirming your suspicions that I’ve gone off the deep end and no longer love the lord and need you to be fasting and praying for me. Pray for me all you want. It is greatly appreciated. But my soul is safe okay. 
But like the bio says…I love Jesus. I just cuss a lot. What do you mean Ashley?!?! How could you cuss and love the lord?!? That’s impossible. NEWS FLASH.. nobodies perfect. Jesus didn’t come to save perfect people. Jesus hung out with sinners, prostitutes and all other manner of imperfect creation and that’s why we are best friends. If he was looking for a perfect woman, he would have left me to my own demise a long time ago.

But before I get to far off from what my original intention of this post was let me reign it back in. So. I know Jesus loves me. People, however, seem to think it is their mission in life to remind me of this. And not in a like hey just wanted to let you know I was thinking about you and praying for you (this does happen occasionally and for those people I am eternally grateful) way.  But it’s usually more of a Hey Ashley your Facebook status (and now blog post) really has me questioning where your soul is headed and since you are so caught up on your singleness let me remind you that Jesus still loves you. 

YES!!! That’s what people do. Almost anytime I write about being single, someone reminds me that Jesus loves me. Like I forgot. But here’s the thing. No one. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE reminded me of that when I was in relationship. For nine sweet glorious months, I was free from Jesus cliches and reminders and “wait for Jesus” pep talks. 

So Jesus only loves me when I’m single? Or I only need reminding when I’m single? Or is it that my willingness to openly talk about it makes you so uncomfortable that you are absolutely unable to control yourself from reminding me that Jesus loves me so I should shut up and stop seeking love from a man and stop being a heathen?!?! Which one?! I’ll wait! 

So a few things: 

I talk about being single a lot because…well I’m single. It really doesn’t bother me as much as it used to but it’s still entertaining to vent and rant about sometimes. If it makes you uncomfortable I suggest you not click on this blog ever again. 

Also, I don’t hate men. 

I love Jesus. I know he loves me. 
In conclusion: if you have ever responded to anything I have written with a reminder that Jesus loves me…thank you…continue to do so if you feel inclined but know that I will be giving some serious side eye as I read the comment. I know it comes from a place of love but I just want to make sure you know how it comes across. 

Also, continue to pray for your girl. Clearly I can use all the prayer I can get. And not just because I’m single!! 

Random thought: Social Media Prayer

I wonder how different the world would be if everybody who usually only says that we need to “pray on it” would actually offer a solution or support or some type of guidance in order to address situations.

In a world full of #pray4everybody, it seems that people are on autopilot just to clear their conscience. Yes, continue to pray and show them that you support them and are thinking about them, but what are you doing to HELP them?

That’s just my two cents…