Are you ready to stop hiding, be brave, and put down your mask?
Ashley Abercrombie fought to overcome addiction, rape, abortion, perfectionism and dysfunctional relationships to become an honest, whole and free woman (most days). She wore a mask more than half her life, and considers herself too old, and too annoyed to ever put that thing on again. She has been in urban, multicultural, racially diverse ministry for more than 15 years, leading people and teaching and preaching at Bible studies, classes, schools, small groups, and Sunday services.
Keep reading for the full show notes after the jump!
We often see things happen in the lives of those around us, their successes, and we think “When is that going to happen for me” or “why do I have dreams to do those things if God isn’t opening the doors?” The journey to “get there” is not that easy. Ashley loves a story of transformation, and hearing how you have overcome your hardships. Listening to one woman share is where she learned the concept – the power of going second. Ashley listened as this woman shared the details of her story, things that Ashley had never shared about herself. She grew up thinking you didn’t share the bad things. You hid the ugly, putting on a mask to the outside world. She grew up with a Ph.D. in pretending as a professional mask wearer. Hearing this story made her realize that if “she can share her story, then maybe I can too.” She learned, “you don’t have to lie to live, that isn’t our portion.” This going second, letting the other woman speak first, revolutionized Ashley’s thinking about sharing the truth. No longer hiding, but being honest with her story no matter what. Rebecca had similar fears, returning to her small hometown, trusting that everything would be ok while dealing with the stigma. Her biggest fears in sharing her story was the impact it would have on her and her family. Would her daughter’s friends’ moms no longer let them play with her because of the ‘kind of girl’ she used to be? Would it affect her job? What about her husband’s job? In reality, her community has completely embraced her in her honesty, thankful that she has come forward to help shift the narrative around exploitation.
The fear of coming forward with your story can be very real. Ashley notes that “Great gain means great loss.” When you are seeking to gain, to grow, to step into a new season of your life that will always include some type of loss. It could be the loss of our image, loss of opportunities, loss of income, or even the loss of reputation. This is a risk we must be willing to take, in order to make room for more in our lives. The beginning of the journey can be terrifying, but if you are willing to take that one step forward, you will never be the same. Ashley had to learn to break the silence, remove the muzzle of “hiding the pain” and begin to share her story. Both Rebecca and Ashley talk of reading Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. This book reminds us that if we fill up our lives with things that don’t bring us joy, we will not have time for the things that do, so Marie Kondo your to-do list! We can fill our lives with business and not have time for the things that God actually wants us to do. Digital media and entertainment take up so much of our time. We can “work” a part-time job surfing social media if we are not careful. We must be mindful of our time, choosing when we say yes and when to say no. A great way to know where you should say “yes” is to take the Find Your Lane quiz available as a freebie with Rebecca’s latest book.
Ashley recently moved with her husband and kids across the country, from Los Angeles to New York. Feeling confident about moving from one large urban city to another, she underestimated the impact of the differences. She felt like she was drowning the first year in her new city. They made many rookie mistakes trying to figure things out “You don’t know what you don’t know.” The biggest change was leaving her big, beautiful support community in LA, people who are always there when you need someone. In order to make it through Ashley “returned to the small steps, living day by day and moment by moment.” Three years into the move, she is no longer drowning, but treading water well. It is refreshing to know that we are not alone, some of us are still in the middle of our “rookie mistakes.” We often think, “what am I doing wrong, did I not hear God right, or maybe I’m not cut out for this?” Sharing the stories of our journeys is helpful to remind people, “you are not alone, we’ve all been there too.” Ashley is thriving by building relationships that she loves, surrounding herself with beautiful, generous people. But we need the reminder to allow time for the process, it takes time.
Ashley shares how New York reminded her of her background of pride, control, and anger which led to her addictions and coping mechanisms. It makes her reckon with herself daily. We all need God desperately to live our lives daily. Rebecca realized recently that anger and irritability had become a shell that she used to protect herself from feelings of loneliness. Imagine, loneliness could be the root of your anger. Remember that everyone is struggling, if we are honest with ourselves. Everyone has struggles; no one is exempt from character flaws, problems, or pain. These flaws and struggles should not keep us from learning from, and supporting, each other. We all need each other in our brokenness, the more honest we are about that the more healing and wholeness can come to us as individuals and to our communities.
Ashley’s book, Rise of the Truth Teller, opens up with a call to own your story, to be honest with yourself. We are raised to tell the truth about other people, what happens when we are able to get honest about ourselves? “When we tell the truth about ourselves we suspend judgment and grow in empathy. We allow ourselves to be broken with others and that is powerful.” Also, we need to be truthful about real issues. We need to be able to talk to people about the real issues that are happening today and faith has something to say about that. Telling the truth about your story allows you to embrace the messiness of life. “I don’t have control over everything and God, if you want to have control in my life, I’m ok with that.” Then, we need to learn to live with holy gumption, figuring out how to live this life with the grit and gumption it takes to survive today. “You are one of a kind, you are unique, the way that God wired you. Your story is no one else’s story, what you have learned nobody else has learned and we need what you bring, your contribution. Even if it feels small to you right now, it’s so big in your world.”
We don’t all feel called to writing and speaking, but ALL of us have a spirit of influence. It doesn’t matter what you are doing ranging from barista to boardroom you have keys to help people grow and change. You are not inferior based on your job nor superior. The power of your words and the power of your thoughts.; everything has an impact on you so it’s important to be aware of what you are letting in. Living your life with integrity and wholeness is a ministry. We all have so much to give as well as grow. Be a positive influence to those in your sphere. We need to take our place in our lives, getting real with Jesus, growing, and healing. We are influenced both by the people we spend time with and the things we put before our eyes. It is time to be aware of how social media is affecting us. We’re underestimating the power of social media, everything has an impact.
Consider the power of your words and the power of your thoughts. The world is actively indoctrinating us, if we are not actively resisting it, then you will be indoctrinated by it. Be careful what you take in, what you watch, and who you listen to. Breaking bad habits takes hard work and effort, but it is worthy work. In order to stay focused and do the hard work, we need people around us to be connected with. When we are not connected to others, we are more likely to roam, wander and to not be mindful of our choices. Find your community. Make those choices to live in community, sometimes we choose not to be in a relationship because we don’t want to be honest with ourselves or others. Another step in breaking bad habits is to monitor what you’re saying; is your speech godly? And then lastly, we need confession-confess to yourself, confess to God and confess to others so they can help us grow. This is part of being connected with people. Ashley uses these questions by Dr. Jim Burns and Homeward with her accountability group. Life is a process and it’s messy. Allowing that to be ok will keep you from controlling and manipulating the process.
Accountability questions from Homeward
Ashley’s new book Rise of the Truth Teller is now available. Stop by her website to watch the trailer. The book trailer is amazing, it truly captures the book and who Ashley is.