Today we are wrapping up the Overcome Series with a special guest post from my friend, Ashley Shepherd. She is beautiful, loads of fun and has a relentless love for God and His people. Her heart to serve others has connected her with thousands of women all over the world through her amazing online bible study group.
I will never forget the day someone asked me what I liked to do for fun.
You would have thought they asked me a math question (math was always my least favorite subject). I sat there in silence…. thinking. It soon dawned on me that I had no idea what I liked to do for fun. I was a stay at home mom of 2 boys and had a husband who traveled for a living. To say I was lonely would be an understatement. My idea of “fun” was getting the laundry done by Friday. I may or may not have had a victory dance when ALL of the laundry was actually put away.
I felt completely lost.
I didn’t know who Ashley Shepherd was anymore. I had been reduced to titles: Wilson and Levi’s mom. Ryan Shepherd’s wife. My identity became wrapped up in my roles rather than who God created me to be. As my smile faded my friends and family could tell I was starting to distance myself. I was the heaviest I had ever been and to be perfectly honest, the number that showed up on the scale each day began to define me. Not only was it stealing my identity, but my quality of life as well. I was exhausted most of the time and I would have melt downs looking in the mirror or when trying to find clothes to wear out in public. The majority of the time I chose yoga pants and a t-shirt and stayed inside. My kids were missing out on birthday parties, lunches, and fun because I was too exhausted and insecure to leave the house.
I knew something had to change.
My best friend Amber Brock invited me to a MOPS group (Mothers of Pre-schoolers group). I said yes, not because I wanted to go, but who can turn down free food and childcare? Let’s all be honest with each other, THAT SOUNDS LIKE HEAVEN. As I wrote my name on the name tag, I felt a tinge of emptiness. It seemed like I was writing it for someone else. Ashley Shepherd had gotten lost somewhere between the laundry and the scale.
As I walked into the small group, I had no desire to share. No one could possibly understand what I was experiencing. Yet as I sat listening to the brief stories of each of the women sitting in that room, I noticed a trend. Loneliness. Lost Identities. Emptiness. By the time it was my turn to introduce myself, I felt like I was home. Every single woman in that room was in the same boat as me. JUST SURVIVE THE DAY. It felt like a breath of fresh air knowing that some of the thoughts I had were “normal” and I truly wasn’t alone. We opened up the Word of God together and our mentor mom poured life back into our aching hearts.
I left there different.Sometimes it's not our situation that needs to change, but our perspective. Click To Tweet
Being part of a community that is centered around God has a way of doing that. Changing our perspectives. The more I read God’s Word, the more He washed over me and began to renew my hope for a beautiful future. He slowly began to peel back the labels that sought to define me. Even the ones that were positive. The titles of mom, wife, friend, and sister are great roles, but are incomplete pictures of who we are. Fat, tired, exhausted, worthless were negative labels I had been confessing over myself that God wanted to replace with His Word. He saw the real me. My identity needed to rest in HIM.
My husband Ryan and I ended up joining the church that housed that mom’s group that I faithfully attended. My relationship with Jesus Christ grew leading me to a greater understanding of who I am in Christ. DAUGHTER OF THE KING was my new label. God created me, not for my husband or my children, but for HIM. I became a Christian as a little girl and loved Jesus my whole life, but this realization changed me. I had overcome my loss of identity by God’s gentle reminder that I am HIS and HIS only.
About the Author
I am a small town girl with a dreamer’s heart. My husband Ryan and I raise our 2 boys in East TN, where we have a huge plate full of life that we wouldn’t trade for anything. I grew up a preacher’s kid and have always had a heart for the Word. I am the type of personality that needs accountability, so when I launched an online Bible study last fall God brought over 9,000 women to one community in 4 weeks. I named it Beautifully Designed and now have over 16,000 women from all over the world reading the Word together, praying together, and giving each other HOPE. You can learn more about our community on our website. , we would love for you to join us as we all fight to live our purpose for HIM.