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A Life Full of Hardship Has Made Me Joyful

Creating an article about my life story had me really unsure on where to start or what to share.

My story really is not neat and tidy or easy to understand. There are a lot of loops, dips, and plot twists. It’s not one for the faint of heart and is so extremely difficult to tell. Sometimes, if not most of the time, I feel like I should not talk about it at all.

It’s always as if there are too many pieces that no one on earth could ever relate to or understand.

So why share?

This was my stance on life for a long time until a very wise person told me, “Someone out there needs to hear your story.”

So here we are.

But I was still unsure on where to start or what angle to write from.

My brain dump and rough draft list on my old laptop went something like this:

Should I write about the emotional and physical abuse I experienced in my early childhood or have a candid talk about foster care and how tremendously difficult it was?

Maybe something about being a young twenty-something, newly married, and facing multiple miscarriages while a college student… Should I write about that?

Or maybe a retelling of the extremely high-risk pregnancy of my daughter, that was full of so many complications it was like a terrifying episode of ER (that ’90s medical drama that was on way back in the day before Grey’s Anatomy was a thing.)

Perhaps even a story where I share about how living with an invisible, progressive, chronic autoimmune disease isn’t as bad as dealing with other people who assume that I’m either faking or dying.

Should I write about always sticking out and never fitting in because, for some reason, I am always drawn to doing things outside the status quo. (Like, always. I seriously can’t help it.)

So with my brain spinning in circles and about 25 opened Microsoft Word documents with drafts that were started and not completed, I decided to land here and talk about what I’ve learned from those life experiences as a whole:

Joy and pain.

(Maybe someday I’ll write a memoir, but for now I’ll just place a bookmark.)

I think most people travel though life trying to avoid pain and hardship at all cost. They don’t want to feel bad or experience anything but happiness. They would rather travel through life on the path of least resistance.

And while I was not purposely getting myself into hard situations, my life experiences have always been on the path of most resistance verses that of least.

And I’ve learned some things.

(I’m still learning some things.)

I have learned to wade through terrible life storms knowing that it’s only rainy for a little while, especially in light of eternity.

I have also felt deep sorrow and knife-cutting pain as dreams seemed to vanish with a two-worded diagnosis.

I know the importance of giving my child “one more hug” and protecting her eyes because I was a child with no one there to protect my eyes or hug me.

I have learned the value of being bold and making my own medical decisions that I feel are right for me, instead of letting myself be intimidated by someone in a white lab coat who isn’t volunteering to take the same prescription they’re prescribing.

I learned to cherish the sight of green grass and cloudy days and to really see them as a gift instead of background noise.

I learned to value simplicity in the mundane, over busy with the extravagant.

I have experienced so many different hardships that I have learned empathy and passion for other’s on multiple levels.

But I think most of all, in a world where it seems that too many people don’t really feel anything, I have learned to feel. I think for someone to experience great joy, they have to taste the bitterness of deep pain. The joy wouldn’t be as sweet without tasting the opposite so intimately.

My story, though not neat and tidy, has taught me to daily make choices to live out a life of both grit and grace.

A life of perseverance and a life of purpose.

The joy wouldn’t be as sweet without tasting the opposite so intimately.

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Ashleigh Marie is the founder of From Ashes Lifestyle Blogs (fromashes.org), Jesus follower, wife, and mother. Living in the Mitten State, homeschooling, and living life. Lover of decaf teas, cozy things, and llamas.

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