When life changes unexpectedly, it leaves us at a crossroads—where we have to decide which path we are going to choose, or allow paths to find us. We can choose to slide downhill or we can continue to climb forward. Crossroads find us at all walks of life. Sometimes they are of our own creation, or placed in front of us by the decisions of someone else. For me, my crossroads didn’t come because of a bad choice I made, or a misshaped accident. I stood at a crossroads paved by three other people.
My name is Ashlee, and I have been told I am a victim of murder and infidelity. On a cold night in March in 2011, three people’s crossroads collided and left me a 28 year old widow with five kids to raise on my own. My husband had been killed—and not just killed . . . murdered—and not just murdered . . . gunned down by a secret mistress’s husband. In a matter of seconds I learned two truths that would forever change my life.
Forgiveness seemed like a virtue that had been taken to the moon and removed from our world. Hope was lost, and the temptation to lose my faith tugged at every angle.To say “going on” came naturally, I would be lying to myself—and anyone who read those words. I didn’t know how to breathe, let alone go on. Getting out of bed felt like a battle—moving forward impossible. Forgiveness seemed like a virtue that had been taken to the moon and removed from our world. Hope was lost, and the temptation to lose my faith tugged at every angle. I thought I might never again learn how to breathe. I battled the temptation to hate myself every single day. I questioned my worth, to my very core. The truth of his death, and the decisions he had made left me feeling worthless. That was the hardest battle I waged—figuring out why my life was still worth living.
But I did. Step by step I began to see small glimpses of hope—not only in my five beautiful children, others in my life, and my Father in Heaven . . . but in me. I was blessed, not only with the ability to find beauty in our imperfect world—I was strengthened by a heavenly gift to see beauty in myself. For the first time in my life I realized that I could be ok with who I was, regardless of what anyone else saw.
That gift to see myself has helped me come to learn of an unspoken truth that is the most powerful revelation that has helped me go on. Maybe I wasn’t enough for that gun. Maybe I wasn’t enough for that man who pulled the trigger. Maybe I wasn’t enough for the other woman to pick someone else’s husband . . . maybe I wasn’t even enough for my own husband to be home fighting for me—he died fighting for her. But I am enough for the one who created me, and I am enough for myself.
With that knowledge I have “gone on.” I have put one foot in front of the other and I have pleaded to Him to help me never forget my worth. The minute we stop seeing ourselves and our mission and purpose in this world—we stop living. I knew what my children went through after losing their dad . . . I wasn’t about to let them lose me.
It is realizing that even when we are falling, we fall to our knees and pray for our God to give us a reason to stand.Going on is finding beauty when it feels lost; it is putting one foot in front of the other even when it feels impossible. It is realizing that even when we are falling, we fall to our knees and pray for our God to give us a reason to stand.
We are all here with a purpose. It is up to us to find out what that is—and it is then that we will find our reason to “go on” and to stand tall no matter what storms try to knock us down. Going on takes courage. It takes an extremely large amount of faith, but even more . . . it takes trust—trust that God’s plan is always greater than our own. His course is not always the one we thought we would travel, but it is always the one that will lead us back to Him. Don’t lose faith at those crossroads.
Our greatest test in life will be how we grew our faith during those hard times,
and how we reached to hope when the worlds tragedies remind us that we alone are nothing.
If you are standing at that crossroad today, you are not alone . . . we have all been there. “Going on” is hard, but it is not impossible.
The moment I knew I had to learn how to “go on” was a few hours after Emmett died. I remember walking into my closet that night to beg Heavenly Father for a ‘do over.’ I begged Him for answers to why all of it was real. I fell to my knees and pleaded for the peace that I needed. The most peaceful feeling came over my body. A still, small voice whispered to my heart:
“BE STILL . . . I have been here, and I am still here. Angels have guarded this home and each of you. None of that has changed. It will be hard, but you have to keep moving forward. You have to have faith for a brighter day, which will come as long as you keep protecting these sweet children and having faith in Me. You are not alone. You have been watched over, and I am proud of you. I believe in you. Now is the time when you have to decide if your testimony has been in your perfect life and your husband, or if your testimony is in Me. Ashlee, be still. Breath. You did all you could. You did your best. I am so proud of you. You were an amazing wife; you are an incredible mother. You are still you. Do not let this define who you will become. You are still the Ashlee you have always been, and I see so much good in you. Believe in yourself and do not doubt who you are because of the pain you now feel so deeply. Find forgiveness and peace. This is the time to find the beauty that is still all around you. Make the world a better place for those children I have blessed you with. I will carry you when it gets unbearable, but I need you to STAND.”
Life will not be easy. Period. But we can stand no matter where we are. Stand for truth, stand for your faith . . . but even more than that—stand for you. You are reason enough to learn to stand after life knocks you down. You always were and always will be enough for God.