I have a lot of awesome people in my life. I have lots of people who are fantastic examples and great role models, people who virtually any parent would approve of. I have grown up with some of them, met some of them throughout the years, and some are a little newer to my life. Relationships are difficult, but they are easier when both people are just...awesome. Well, I'm working on my awesomeness, but the other people are awesome, so the relationships are still a little easier. While I've been able to be part of some really cool relationships, and could write something about all of them, there is one relationship in particular that I want to focus on right now. This person is super duper awesome, and I'm not quite at that level of awesomeness...hoping that by keeping her around, I'll be able to almost as awesome as she is.
When I was in tenth grade, I met one of my soon to be best friends. We didn't start to really develop a friendship until the summer after, if I'm remembering correctly. She was getting ready to start her freshman year of high school, as I was preparing for life as an upperclassman. We've never attended the same school and have few things in common.
She played goalie in soccer, I played forward.
She drinks water, I don't.
She's tall, I'm not.
She likes to "ditch the logical", I like to cling the logical.
She loves the Sundevils, I love the Wildcats.
She likes fruits and vegetables, I don't.
She likes bigger schools, I like smaller schools.
She likes to run, I don't.
She was born (almost) in the winter, I was born in the summer.
She likes the rain, I hate the rain.
She goes to gas stations in the same city she lives in, I think that's weird.
She can talk in funky accents (sort of), I can't.
She eats at a normal pace, I eat at an incredibly slow pace.
She doesn't like to read, I love to read.
She enjoys roller coasters, I'm not a huge fan.
She wants to be a teacher, I have no desire to work in a school.
She has a good memory, I have a horrible memory.
She doesn't like to write, I do.
The list goes on and on and on. Despite all the differences, there are also a few similarities.
She loves Jesus, so do I.
She loves people, so do I.
She loves road trips, so do I.
She's blonde, so am I.
She's loves jokes, so do I.
She has high standards for others and herself, so do I.
Clearly, there are more differences than similarities. We live in different cities, we go to different schools, we have a different circle of friends...
Yet, our similarities outweigh those differences by a long shot. Sometimes the differences cause issues, particularly when I try to "ditch the logical" on a road trip and end up in an abandoned parking lot at night and when she does, we end up at a really cool place=P But for real, on the surface we really aren't all that alike. But those similarities, those things that are found when you dig a little deeper, our values, those are in line. Those are so in sync.
Our shared passion, our shared goal, our shared vision is to live for Jesus. Our friendship is completely on solid ground, fueled by unrelenting love and boundless grace. We challenge one another, we push one another, we keep each other accountable, we hold each other to high standards, we can each count on the another to bail us out of miserable situations or call pretending to be sick. If we're down in the dumps, we can trust each other to uplift our spirits. If we're excited about something, we can trust each other to match that excitement. If either of us is in a pickle, we know the other will be right there. And no matter what, I can trust her to make sure I'm good with Jesus and she can trust me to do the same thing. Because that's the most important thing, and whenever one of us forgets that, we know we have a solid friend to gently remind us of that.
There's a saying that floats amongst Christians: "Love God, love people. Serve God, serve people." We both strive to do that in all we do and I think that's why our friendship rarely suffers things many friendships often do. We still struggle, we still get frustrated, it still sucks that we live 200 miles apart, it's not a great thing that our schedules are ALWAYS the exact opposite and the only time we can talk is for 5 minutes at like midnight or not at all for months at a time. It sucks. But we know that even when we tick each other off, in comes that unrelenting love. Even when we do something dumb, in comes that boundless grace. Even when we lose focus, in comes a friend with the vision. Even when (name something bad here), in comes a best friend who desperately loves you and adores you and cherishes the friendship she has with you. Whether I screw up or she screws up, in whatever capacity, we can trust that we have a solid friendship based on the firmest foundation and that our best friend won't stop believing in the friendship or lead us astray from our vision. We know that our individual relationships with Christ influence our friendship, especially for that reason.
All of that is good and dandy and super awesome and I love that I have someone in my life like that, but I have to say...it's still kind of hard to be a best friend. Sometimes, I feel like I fail at it. I feel like I let her down. I so often feel like I'm not spending enough time with her (difficult to do when you live in different cities) or like I'm not calling enough or communicating enough or sharing enough or being supportive enough or funny enough or wise enough or whatever enough. And while that's probably all true, I probably do fail at being her best friend sometimes, I hope she knows that I still try. And even though she probably fails at being my best friend sometimes, I know she still tries. We both fail, yet we try. We try because we care and because we both value our friendship. That's something that I sometimes forget, but at the same time I always know it to be true.
I am so incredibly thankful for her. For her support and encouragement, for her fears and failures, for her imperfections, for her nonsense, for her being illogical (sometimes), for her laughter, for her love, for her compassion, for her grace, for her forgiveness, for her being a never giver upper, for her pushing me, for her being a positive role model, for her being my best friend and my sister through the blood of Christ.
I love her a lot and admire her to no end, if you couldn't tell=)
"Find people who share your values, and you'll conquer the world together."
My uncle has a saying that has become a staple within all of our family: "You can't fix stupid." If someone in the family does something dumb, it's asked, "What are you, stupid?" My dad often tells me that I can't work with stupid people, because I get too frustrated when people are just being stupid. Just like I get fed up with lazy Christians, I am set off my rocker by stupid people.
Now, I know everyone has their moments of stupidity, but I'm not talking about moments. I'm talking about living life in a stupid way. Constantly making stupid decisions. Constantly getting stuck not due so much to bummer situations, but due to being stupid.
I was indirectly challenged to think about people not in terms of how driven they are or how bright they are, but based on how broken they are. Sometimes, people aren't stupid--they're broken.
I'm pretty black and white and see little grey. There is right and there is wrong, there is yes and there is no, there is being accomplished not being accomplished. When I view marriage, I think the same way--you stay married or you don't.
I was talking to someone the other day and they totally changed my view on divorce rates. I didn't know it was possible for anyone to affect my views on this as much in the way that this one conversation did. (I don't think that was proper grammar, but whatever, roll with it.)
In the matter of marital counseling, so often people don't go to counseling because they foresee an issue, rather they go when they are at the breaking point. If there is a cliff, they wouldn't be just near the edge--they would be right on the edge. Almost to the point of no turning back.
Here's essentially a list that this person gave me that I had already known about, but didn't truly think about--Things that make marriage easier:
Couple has a family history lacking divorces
Not married young
(I think there was more, but I don't really remember...)
When you take even one of those things out, that couple has it tough. And so often, a lot of couples don't have any of those things going for them. Out of those 4 things that I could remember, a lot of marriages have zero.
It's no wonder that the divorce rate is the way it is. It's no wonder that people don't go to counseling until it's almost too late. I thought it was due to stupidity or lack of trying. After that conversation, I'm thinking it's maybe more due to brokenness. By the time a couple goes to counseling, there is usually much hurt and anger and frustration and fear and issues to unravel and dig through, that divorce often wins.
I'm not saying I understand it or that I get it. Nor am I saying that divorce is okay. I don't totally understand why people wait to go to counseling, yet I do sort of understand. I don't totally understand how all of this hurt builds and builds and is never confronted, yet I sort of do. People are so, so broken.
More and more I'm starting to see that now. That these people need to feel that overwhelming grace. Because the feeling of being confronted by your brokenness and then having an abundant amount of grace and love cover it, it truly overwhelming.
If this were a paper that I turned in, it would receive a poor grade because there is little organization...and it doesn't really have a precise point...and the conclusion was virtually non-existent... Whoops.
Someone told me a story today. They said the way they describe me to other people is with this story: If Ashley had $60 on Monday and it was supposed to last her all week, and someone said they needed $55, she would give them $55 and try to live off of $5 for the rest of the week.
Then, someone sitting with us said, Ashley would probably just say, "Well here, I have $60 you can have all of it" and she would give them everything and just go broke for the rest of the week.
I asked if they were serious, if they really tell people that and they said they do. I told them, "I think that's the kindest thing anyone could say about me".
Everything I have, I have to serve others. I long to give to others and support others any way that I can, even if it means that I have be "broke for the rest of the week".
Right now, I "should" be getting ready to head out to begin celebrating my 21st birthday. Instead, I'm at home getting ready for bed, writing this, listening to Jesus music and spending time with Jesus. Tomorrow, I "should" sleep in and rest from the night and get ready for more celebrating. Instead, I will be getting up early to worship Jesus and then teach precious 2nd and 3rd graders.
My birthday plans may sound lame to others, but I think they sound awesome. For the record though, I will be doing some celebrating and doing things I couldn't do under the age of 21. I am not totally against any of it, as some people assume. But the point is, is that I know that I want to do more than that. I want to spend my birthday (and all of my days) loving people. Serving people. Worshiping Jesus. If that means I have to go to bed early and skip out on the power hour, so be it.
As I prepare for graduation from NAU, I have to think about, well, my life.
The big question seems to be: What am I going to do next?
I have been thinking a lot about this and have actually started to narrow things down. And this isn't necessarily about what I've decided but it is about one of the options and why it's so high in the running.
Getting a Master's Degree. Then I could say, "I am the Master"!
There are several reasons why this isn't set in stone. By several, I mean I can list 8 off the top of my head and give me a little while and I'm sure I could come up with 16 more reasons why this isn't an automatic win. (One reason is that I don't know if if it's master's degree, Master's degree, MA, M.A, etc. I can't get a degree in something I can't write properly!)
I was thinking about adults in my life who I really admire. Six of them have a master's degree (I think that's right for generic purposes...). Essentially by admire, the broadest sense of the word is that I want to be like them in some way and they have encouraged me or inspired me. I haven't told them and I'm not sure if I was supposed to get some kind of permission from them by talking about them here...so I may be breaking some rule, which is actually kind of exciting...but also, I apologize for that. And I also just realized that I'm not 100% sure that they all have their Master's...but I still admire them nonetheless..but I'm pretty sure they do.
If you don't know Meghan, you're missing out. She is the kind of person who is not only interested in almost everything, she knows almost anything about almost everything. It's really impressive, quite actually. Beyond that, she is potentially one of the most humble of persons you will ever meet. I want to "get my feet dirty" as the saying goes (or am I making that saying up?), because of her. She has shown me the value in learning things. Learn what I need to learn and learn what I want learn. The more you learn, the better you can connect to people.
Mrs. Jensen was my math teacher in high school and my homeroom teacher. I've had a lot of great teachers throughout my school years, so the fact that she's one that stands out is impressive. Now, I can't say she influenced me to go into math...in fact I kind of hate math=)...but, I wanted to be a better student because of her. She was one of the teachers that genuinely cares about her students and it was obvious. The kind of teacher that makes her students want to strive for more. She was the teacher that even on the crappiest of days, she had a smile on her face and tried to make other people smile. It was her charisma and genuineness that would always radiate around her. And, even though math isn't my favorite subject anymore, I actually really liked it when I was in her class and she was also ridiculously good at teaching math.
Jill was my direct supervisor for my first two years as an RA. I (sort of) lived with her and worked with her. I saw her almost every single day and we got to know each other fairly well. I encountered a lot of situations where I had zero idea about what to do and Jill always knew how to guide me. Whether it was to direct me in the proper protocol or simply calm me down, I knew I could count on her. She wasn't afraid to say "I don't know", but she didn't stop there. She would say "I don't know, but let me find out". She is so compassionate and encourages people to go do what they want. I was so spoiled by having her as my boss, because she was probably one of the best ones anyone could ask for. I don't think I would have made it through even my first semester as an RA if it weren't for her support. She showed me that it was totally possible to be a student and a fantastic hall staff member at the same time. I learned how to handle various situations and different types of people by watching her.
Drew was one of my supervisors for my first two years as an RA at NAU. He is one of those leaders that people just flock to. I don't know if I can think of any other male in my life who I was so impressed by and had the most respect for. I remember my second year as an RA, we had three new guys on our staff and I told them to watch Drew, because he was an exemplary role model and that they would learn so much by working under him. I admire Drew, plain and simple. He has a fantastic wife and it's so evident that he cherishes her. He works so dang hard at his job, which is why I think I had such a high respect for him almost immediately. He worked hard and expected us to work hard. He wouldn't just tell us to do something, he would show us and would lead by example. I actually didn't really start looking at grad programs until I was encouraged by Drew.
Mrs. Sheaffer was my counselor in high school. She loves people. Encouraging them, loving on them, supporting them, advising them... My admiration for her is exponentially high. I felt so supported by her and truly felt like I could do almost anything with my life because of her confidence in me. I learned the importance of having confidence in people and being an encourager to others from her. She would go out of her way to find something for me or to help me. I try to go above and beyond people's expectations to help them, because that's what Mrs. Sheaffer did for me. Also, her writing skills are impeccable and I sincerely hope I can continue to strive to be at her writing level, because I've learned that the ability to write is necessary for life.
Julie has become one of my best friends, whether she knows that or not=P The older I get, the more like her I get. Throughout our many conversations, we discover how similar we really are...it's almost odd how alike we are. More than once, I've been called "Julie's mini me". Her passion for students is truly remarkable, as she yearns to share with them this wholly, remarkable, tender love that is found through Jesus. She's the one who encouraged me to figure out what I'm holy discontent about and do something about it. I never wanted to disappoint her, but more than that I wanted her to be proud of me. I trust, respect, and admire Julie. She guides me and pushes me. She wouldn't let me just sit on my butt and do nothing, and while I probably wouldn't let myself do that, I am grateful to know that I have someone who will make sure I am always moving and doing something to further the Kingdom.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for all six of these people. I have learned from them and strive to do more because of them. They are all brilliant, captivating, and astonishing individuals who genuinely love and care about others. I just want to be cool like them!
For the record, I'm not trying to say that I respect them because of the degrees that they have.
I'm about to start my last year of college and I'm already having flashbacks to my senior year of high school. When I was getting ready to graduate high school, I was asked about my future plans ALL THE TIME. And I was a horrible person if I didn't have it figured out. Luckily, I had some of it set. I knew I was going to a university. It was just the specifics that I didn't have down throughout that year, which was what people wanted to know. Why don't you know? You need to get it figured out. There are a lot of options. Which ones are you considering? What are you going to major in? The questions went on and on and on. I remember calling my friend and we considered tallying the number of times people asked questions about my future...it would have been in the hundreds. As I get ready to graduate college, the exact same questions are being asked. Only this time, it's worse.
I don't have something set. Then, I at least was set in the idea of going to a university. Now, there are just 7 different options and then each of those options include 4239 more options.
This is apparently more "real" than graduating high school. I won't be 18, I'll be 21. I won't just have a high school diploma, I'll have a Bachelor of Science degree. I'll be less and less dependent. I'm not supposed to settle for a job, but start searching for a career.
Back to my ranting before I say something of use.
It's not like those aren't important questions. They're just annoying. Now, with that being said I don't necessarily mean to deter people from asking or caring about my future. (Though I do question how many people are asking just to make small talk or just to compare me to someone else they know and see how I measure up.) It's just that I'd be more okay with the questions if I actually had a solidified answer. I hate answering "I don't know" or with different possibilities. But I also hate that people just assume I haven't even thought about it if I don't have a for sure plan. A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me what I was doing after I graduate and I was taken off guard because, well, it's summer and the school year wouldn't have even started for another 10 weeks. And then I would have like 9 months in school before graduation. I had almost an entire year and when I said I wasn't sure, their response was more of a freak out and I was kind of told that I needed to get my butt in gear.
I then tried to explain some of the different options that I was really looking into, but they weren't having it. They told me I better figure it out really soon...like before November soon (I mentioned November for whatever reason, I don't remember why, and that apparently wasn't soon enough).
This is to adults everywhere: True/False
There are people who are gearing up graduation and haven't thought about their next steps. True
Most soon to be graduates think you have ulterior motives when asking questions about the future. True
Okay, I had more but I forgot them. I would suck at making true/false tests...Anyways!
I had a purpose to this entire post, but I forgot it due to all of my ranting. So I'll make up new points. These are they:
The thing I hate most about graduating are all of the annoying questions about what's next.
If I think somebody is asking about my plans for the future just so they can see how I measure up to other people in my place, I usually tell them a really impressive future plan. And it's fun to watch their face and response. I didn't do that too much in high school, only a few times. But I've gotten braver, so I've done it much more often in these last few weeks...and will continue to do so, I'm sure. (I've also gotten better at reading people, so that plays into my bravery.) Sometimes, I do the opposite and say, "Oh, I'm not really sure..I haven't really thought about it." Because that's also a lie.
I don't mind the questions if someone genuinely cares.
I don't mind engaging in conversation about various ideas, so long as it's not solely small talk or it turns into an interview, where I'm being asked several questions and feel the need to have a perfect response.
College isn't over. I still have a year left, life is still happening right now. I have to plan for my future, yes, but I also have to live right now. If I'm going to be asked questions about the future, I want to be asked about something current too.
Which reminds me of another thing. Throughout college, every single time I came home there were two questions I was always asked: How's college? Do you have a boyfriend? Also annoying questions.
Alright, this post had absolutely no point. Now I'm upset.