Mud, Sweat, and Tears

I wish I’d known sooner that the remedy for my heartbreak & feeling stuck was ten days of mud, sweat, tears, and becoming like a child again.

But God also knew that in the years before this moment, the idea of dropping a summer class to throw on basketball shorts and get covered in red Georgia dirt, eaten by bugs, and drenched in sweat was not something I was willing to sign up for.

But somehow it happened. Somehow this summer became the one in which I unintentionally signed up to take ten days to: cry hourly, lose sleep, smell awful, abandon any attractive clothing, forget about the outside world, give away my heart.

What I expected least was the night was I ended up sitting on a couch across from another woman who was leading at this camp. She was watching me nearly fall apart as I took her through a twisted algorithm of my heart.

“I need a whiteboard to decipher this…” She told me.

I laughed. Trying to find the words, the hand motions. Forcing myself to communicate the thing that I was so terrified to admit.

But then I realized an incredible thing. I had known this woman for about a week and I was preparing to tell her something that I knew might make her change every good opinion about me.

It had taken me weeks upon weeks to tell the people closest to me this very thing. And here I was, staring at this woman who was in many ways a complete stranger. I was about to tell her something that just might disqualify me as a good leader in every way.

What I couldn’t figure out was why I was willing to risk it all right there in that moment. Willing to give away the secret that my pride wanted so desperately to hold on to.

Later I realized it was because I was finished with pride. Pride: the thing that had spent years stealing everything from me. It had stolen the moments just like that one, when you’re laughing so hard you can’t breathe and you finally get the chance to say the thing that might set your heart free.

It had stolen from me that moment in the kitchen when I needed to stop cutting the cucumbers and tell him the truth.

It had stolen those moments when I didn’t know how to let go. To walk away from something that I knew wasn’t right. Pride and my misplaced hope had spent years trying to anchor those things to my heart.

I became willing to risk that secret because I knew that hiding has been a thing that’s kept me from ever really finding the actual desires of my heart. Pride let me keep the things that seem valuable, while stealing from me the things that I actually truly desire. It kept me from having the kind of friendship that challenges me, the kind of love that really sees me, the kind of pain that knows the grief of patience is better than temporary false fulfillment.

So this week I put on my basketball shorts and sat surrounded by bugs and mud. I cried without holding back. I dug my knees into the carpet and wrapped my arms around young men and women and told them this next year with God is worth fighting for. I jumped when they heard Him speak. I wept when I watched them worship. I yelled at the top of my lungs when they won dodgeball. I cried laughing while judging their dance routines. And I prayed fiercely that they would never know the kind of pride I’ve carried: the kind that teaches my heart to make algorithms for why I can’t love people, or why I can’t or shouldn’t say the words I need to say.

This week I found myself face to face with the reality that few things in life are worth holding on to if they going to cost us the kind of love that rolls in the mud. The kind of love that solves the equations that pride built within us when we tasted our first heartbreaks. The kind of friendship that gives us the patience required to wait on our words to form.

I found myself letting go of that pride this week, willing to lose it all.  I knew there was something better, even if that meant breaking my own heart to learn what it was.

It turns out I’d rather sit in the middle of the mud, sweat, and tears with real love than in the clean corners of the room with the company my pride and impatient pain have been trying to keep.

This week was nothing I expected and exactly what I needed. A combination of everything required to learn what it means to let go of my own heart. The moment of finally realizing that the world needs my heart more than I do, and that by giving it away in love, it gets handed back to me in a much better condition than when I try to protect it.

For all the years I spent trying to make you solve for x, this is my apology. For the years ahead, I pray for the grace and humility to finally open my mouth and say the things my heart and the ones who hold it need to hear me speak.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Mud, Sweat, and Tears”

  1. Beautiful! It is unexplainably crazy how God increases our capacity to love the more we pour out love. There have been times when I wished I didn’t love so deeply and overwhelmingly….because fierce love means we feel the deep sorrows and pain of others….and sometimes I want to protect myself from loving so fiercely, to pull it back and not “feel” quite so much (even though I KNOW love is more of an action than an emotion) but mostly….I am just overwhelmingly grateful that God overwhelms me with His love and uses me, a broken vessel, as a channel to love his people. “We love because He first loved us.”

    N squad was so fully blessed to have you as a trainer this week. You loved them so well. Thank you! Love and hugs.

  2. Ashlin, I love this blog so much. They way to let your heart overflow and love me this week was incredible. The way to cried with me, wept with me, rejoiced with me, and just listened to me was nothing but amazing. I admire your character so much. I admire who you are in the Lord and the way you lead me to become closer to the Lord everyday. I so glad God brought you into my life. You are just the person I needed. Much Much Much LOVE!

  3. Ashlin,
    Thanks for being a beautiful example of a Godly woman. I didn’t get to talk to you much this week, but this post just shines your heart and your love for God. Thank you for writing this. It’s perfect and just what I needed.

  4. You don’t really know me, but I saw a friend of mine post this on facebook and read it. This line has caught me; “The moment of finally realizing that the world needs my heart more than I do, and that by giving it away in love, it gets handed back to me in a much better condition than when I try to protect it.” I have tried to protect and hide my heart from people for my whole life, I went on the race this past fall and that is where I realized I could not do that anymore. Lately I have found it harder to see why I should make any effort to open up, but now reading your blog you have reminded me that my heart is not my own, it is to give away. Thank you for this! You are awesome!

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