Ashley attends Grace Oviedo; she shared this story on Instagram after the message at that campus on December 9th.

Today at Grace the message was beautiful & truthful.

It left me with a bit of soul searching.

Christmas — it’s so easy to get caught up in the decorations and Santa and travel and gifts, that we often accidentally “forget” what the true meaning of Christmas is all about.

Without Christ there would be no Christmas, and without Him, there is no salvation.

I’ve always considered myself a Christian, but I was never big on “labels” because I a) didn’t want to lose friends over it b) was more concerned over making a name for myself so that my earthly father would accept me, embrace me & invite me into his family.

This past spring God really laid it on more heart to draw closer and embrace who I am. All that I am and all that I’m not.

I’m nothing without the grace of God, absolutely nothing. All the treasures of this world, including the virtual ones we all spend so much time oooing and ahhhing over, mean nothing without God.

If I’m being honest, there was a huge part of me that wanted to “be succesful and famous” so badly several years ago that I didn’t really care if I lost sight of who I was. I was willing to trade my salvation for a short human lifetime of what I thought would make me happy.

I was angry. Bitter. Resentful. Sad. Broken. Hurt. Tired. And mostly, I was lonely.

I was drinking way too much way too often. I was becoming so numb to my own emotions that I could barely feel any joy or happiness.

I was feeding into my own self-serving ways of life by justifying my pain and feeling sorry for myself. It was an ugly combo. One that made my anxiety skyrocket to a place where I had zero control. Or so I thought.

The loss of my father was a tough blow. It hurt in more ways than I could understand at the time but all I could feel in those moments, the days and weeks after, was that I never became anything worth talking about in his eyes.

That mindset almost broke me.

The ironic part though, is that after his death, I started to make peace with myself. It’s taken years, but I’m on my way.

Losing my earthly father brought me closer to my heavenly one.

I’m still a work in progress just like we all are, but by drawing closer to my Creator, I’m finding a restored sense of purpose. I’m finding my self worth. All while learning to love myself and not base that off of the affections of another.

This month I will be three years sober. Three years that I haven’t taken a drink to numb the pain or try to lose myself because I couldn’t stand who I was becoming, or who I thought I would be.

So to me, Christmas is Hope. Joy. Love. Forgiveness. Acceptance, of both yourself and others. Accountability. Sacrifice. And promises. The beautiful promise of Peace on Earth.

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