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  • Ashley Thomas

My Future Last Day Will Be Better.



I’ve wondered if this is the end..


Not because I want to hear you say it’s not.


It’s just been one of those seasons. One where you’re frustrated no one gets you and angry that no one gets IT. How hard it’s been. How each milestone is SO much more than just another day, week or year. It’s names, faces and stories that shape and mold your being. It’s light and darkness all wrapped up in one, attempting to overcome the other. It doesn’t shut off, it wakes you up. It shakes you and at times produces peace, even joy.


I never set out to become the Executive Director. It wasn’t on my list of goals. Yet, it happened. Most days I wonder why. In between why and how...comes WTH. What did I get myself into?


I have tried really hard not to paint too pretty of a picture. To invite you into the mess. The mess that is all of our lives. The hope for redemption and the sadness that comes with relapse, poor behavior and even death. In the midst of all of that I’ve attempted to hold true to who I am...but the reality is that’s pretty hard. It’s hard when you’re labeled:


Intense

Intimidating

Aloof

Independent

PSA I’m introverted. I’m extremely shy and anxious around new people. I hate small talk and I am completely OK with awkwardly standing in the corner and observing. I own RBF, not on purpose it’s just me.


I recently sat across from a trusted friend - who I can hear good and not “so good” things from. He said, “I think you may have lost site of where Hope Street ends and you begin” my reaction: tears. No surprise there, they have been dwelling at the surface over the course of the last year as we have experienced so much loss. But I heard that, correction I hear that. I’m afraid I have...I love Hope Street. From the common spaces downstairs I helped design to the culture to the events to none other than our beloved people. God in His grace has allowed my gifting to be expressed through several different venues.


I have been responsible to Him, but not for those things. While I am part of it, it’s all His. When I choose to take that perspective it will be OK for me to walk away. I can trust that it’s in His hands and he will take the next person on a journey with Him. I’m protective of Hope Street. I go full on “hulk smash” on anything or anyone who threatens to harm the culture that is there. I don’t have much time for not “getting it” because if you just stop trying and just BE, you will.


It’s been six years. I’m thankful for the people who have believed in me, even when I couldn’t believe in myself. I’m thankful for the laughs, tears, random dancing and stories...all of the stories and silly moments that remind me its NOT that serious, just relax.


Each year has had a specific “lesson” and they go a little something like this:


Year One: Deal with your anxiety.

Year Two: I am enough.

Year Three: It’s safe to be known.

Year Four: Ready or not - just show up.

Year Five: Relax and Have Fun

Year Six: Your heart will break (several times)


There’s a pretty common myth surrounding “ministry” or “charity” that it must be so rewarding. Truth is it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s sucker punched me in the gut, held a mirror up to my face and reminded me day in and day out how much of a mess I am. At the end of the day it’s reminded me how “human” I am. That even inside of His will, there will be days that suck, days that hurt, others with sprinklings of beauty and joy. I’m not the same person I was when I walked through the doors 6 years ago. That person had no plan of still walking through the doors all these years later. But who I am today is different, my perspective on life has evolved, and my capacity to love and be loved has grown.


I’m a planner. I “see” into the future...what I don’t see is my last day, but for today I walk through the door until I’m asked not to.


My prayer for this year, as Greg challenged me is to have a “holy detachment” with Hope Street. I’m all in, but I’m also going to protect my heart, mind and soul better. I’m currently the Executive Director but I’ve always been and always will be Ash, just Ash. And that’s enough.


Someday will be the end; my hope is that I can celebrate it well because I have a deep rooted reality of where Hope Street ends and I begin.


Year 7: Holy Detachment

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© 2018 by Ashley Thomas

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