Called According to His Purpose: Ashley’s Story
Our Women’s Shelter building is in the midst of great change – there is tearing down and rebuilding going on. I think it’s a visual representation of what goes on inside our Women’s Shelter: our guests’ lives have been torn down because of their addictions but they are being rebuilt with a strong foundation in Jesus Christ.
Ashley has been at Bethesda Women’s Mission for many months, and in that time, her life has started to be rebuilt with a new foundation.
Ashley grew up in Pennsylvania, and she has 2 sisters and a brother. She started using drugs at a young age – she was just 12 years old the first time she used with a family member. She was able to graduate from high school but got pregnant as a teenager and now has a 12-year-old son, who lives with his father.
She spent time living in North Carolina and Texas in her twenties. “I got into the party life going to clubs. I kept a job, but I didn’t really do anything productive,” Ashley said.
She says she has always struggled with mental health issues but hadn’t gotten treatment and started using illegal drugs to self-medicate. After years of struggling with her addiction, being on probation and bouncing around from place to place, she ended up in the psychiatric ward in Philadelphia. Upon release, she went to Concept 90 in Harrisburg, a short-term recovery program.
When a spot opened up at Bethesda, she knew she needed to come. “As soon as I got here, I cried. I knew it was exactly what God wanted me to do,” Ashley said. Despite not growing up believing in God or going to church, Ashley said she had faith in a higher power. “After being here, I know that Jesus is who I’m supposed to believe in. Everything lined up for me to be able to come here because of Him.”
Once she got here, it was time to begin the slow process of healing. “It took me a long time to lose the desire to use drugs because that was all I knew. I was grieving the lifestyle. I couldn’t picture any future without getting high.” Through bible study, meetings, recovery groups, eventually she began to heal and started receiving mental health treatment.
She has worked on rebuilding broken relationships with her family. She talks to them on a regular basis, even if she can’t see them because of COVID restrictions. “I have a relationship with my son now, and I see him when I can,” she said.
“The staff here is very supportive. They are all believers so it gives me hope that I have someone to believe in. I see them walking a Christian life so it inspires me to be a woman of God.” She said she goes to Jesus first with her problems and prays a lot. She knows to read the Word if she wants to hear from him. She writes poetry and listens to worship music to connect with God.
She plans to go back to school in the fall and would like to work with people in the future. “I plan to be an ambassador for new women that come in the new building. It’s always good to see the new people because it reminds me of where I started, and I’m able to help them because I used to be them,” Ashley said.
Her favorite Bible verse is Romans 8:28: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Ashley said that this verse reminds her “even though I used to do bad things, I still have a purpose and God can use me for good.”
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