Dropping her newest edition of Suzie Magazine on her lap, Ashley looked at Lanie. Lanie was Ashley's taller, happy-go-lucky friend. She was perfect and everything Ashley aspired to be: pure, confident, happy, loved, and at peace. Lanie was smart, too. And she was pretty. Those blue eyes and that golden blond hair made the slender girl look angelic. Ashley often envied her for her looks, especially when she started at herself in the mirror.
Ashley was an average girl who wanted to feel alive. But after her mom had passed away two years ago, all Ashley had ever felt was dead-mind, body, and soul. She didn't feel pretty. Not like Lanie. What Ashley saw in the mirror was not unique and beautiful. Lanie had tried time after time to get Ashley to see her beauty, but it was of little use. Ashley just wouldn't take that leap of faith and knock her tight-knit barrier down. All she saw was another uninteresting brunette with brown eyes and ache. Nothing spectacular.
Ashley fidgeted and drew in a deep breath before she permitted herself to break the silence and ask Lane a question.
"What is it I have done with my life?" Lanie put down her book and scooted closer to Ashley on the small, but comfy sofa. "Where has the time gone, Lanie? And what have I done with it?"
"Time doesn't stand still, Ash." Lanie put a hand on her friend’s knee and gave it a pat. A soft expression appeared on her soft face. She continued, "It slips between our fingers before we know it's gone."
Ashley took a finger and wiped a small and free-spirited tear from her eye. When she tied to look back at her past, she couldn't see anything positive. She'd missed it all. She wished she could rewind time and take back all she had said and done. Yes, especially what she had done.
Ashley was ashamed of her past. She had been so lost and so determined to do everything on her own that she had given up on God and lost her faith. She was running away from who she was. And she was tying everything to ignore God. She didn't want anything to do with God. No. Not after he stole her mom from her. The last thing Ashley wanted to do was put her faith in a God that took her mom away.
The solitude of not having her mom and disconnecting herself from God made Ashley vulnerable. Shortly after her mom had passed, Ashley had turned to Bulimia with the hopes of somehow escaping the emptiness inside. But the binging and purging did little to satisfy. In fact, it only made her hunger for love and companionship worse, even stronger.
"I just wish I could turn back time and do everything differently." Ashley's fight to hold in her tears failed epically as they began to stream down her flushed face. She began to sob. "I have lost so much time!"
"Oh, Ashley!” Lanie took hold of her friend with a fierce grip and held her. "You have gone through so much. You lost your mom-which was devastating for you because of how close you both were-and you have overcome a terrible, life-threatening eating disorder. Don't ever think your life was a waste."
"I could have done so much! I missed it all." Ashley embraced her friend and continued
to cry. "I wish I had been stronger. I might have been happier."
"My dear, everyone handles pain differently. I am not saying that all aren't bad, but you suffered greatly. You have changed now, Ash. You need to get unstuck from what you did in the past. It's over with!"
Lanie released Ashley and got up. It wasn't that she was tired of hearing Ashley talk about her perceived miserable life. It was quite the opposite. Actually, Ashley barely ever mentioned her feelings to Lanie unless something was really bothering her, or she had read something that made her think. Ashley was a person who kept to herself a lot of the time. She tried to avoid getting hurt this way. It was easier for her, but made for a lonely life. The only one willing to stick with her was Lanie and she was a social butterfly. Perhaps she saw a glimmer of hope in Ashley? Nah, according to Ashley, she was a goner, doomed to forever be a fading bloom.
Lanie walked over to a tall bookshelf and retrieved from it a decapitated book that had seen better days. It was Lanie's bible. She read it frequently; casually as if it were a juice romance novel. Ashley would sometimes come in after work to fine Lanie sitting lackadaisical on the sofa reading. It drove Ashley mad. "That's not a real book." She would say. "Oh, but it is," Lanie would reply. "In fact, it possesses everything a reader would ever desire. It's all right here-stories of prostitutes, beggars, murderers, and one amazing Hero."
God, a hero? Ashley would always laugh that one off. But deep in the back of her mind, she knew that Lanie was right. The Bible was the best of both worlds. It had all the answers, but Ashley was still too bitter and angry at God to go searching for them.
If He wanted her, He would have to come to her. He took that as a challenge because over the course of the past several months, God, it seemed was trying to grab at Ashley's attention more than ever. She wondered when he would give up. But Lanie, who was away observant, would look at her friend and say, "God promises to his children that He would never give up on them. He's not going to give up on you either. God is calling for you, Ashley. He wants you, desired a relationship with you. He loves you. Don't push Him away. Let the God of the Universe wrap you up in His arms and love on you. That's all he wants to do."
This made her think, even more open to God's calling. If He really wanted to show her His love, then she dared Him to be bold. If He was really the God of the Universe like Lanie had said, God would do more than just show her His love, He would bring her peace.
Lanie sat back down on the couch. She flipped through the pages of her Bible and stopped at a verse that she had been accustomed to reading over and over again: Isaiah 1:18. Lanie handed Ashley the Bible. Ashley looked questioning at the book, refusing to hold it.
"Please," Lanie said in a low, soft tone. "Read it to me. Right here…."
Was this Lanie's way of making Ashley actually read or was to make her understand something? What was she trying to get at? Lanie pointed to the verse she had picked out and said again, this time more authoritatively, "Read it to me. Please."
Ashley huffed a refusal, but complied with Lanie's plea. She cleared her eyes by wiping the tears, brushed the hair from her face, and sighed. "”Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool."
"Ashley, what you did in the past is no longer important. God has taken care of all that. And while you may suffer physical consequences of your eating disorder, God has forgotten all that. He doesn't dwell on the past and neither should you. Your slate was wiped clean."
Taking the book from Ashley, Lanie flipped through the Bible a second time. Finding another verse—Romans 8:37-39—, she quickly thumbed it and handed the book back to her friend. Ashley took the book, this time more openly, and read: "But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
"It all happens in a blink. From the time it takes to look back at the past, we have missed the purpose of the present. Don't muse over the past. You'll miss the best that is yet to come. And with God, you have conquered so much. And you didn't even know it! He's never left you. Never will. Just give Him a chance to be you're everything. Nothing can separate you from his grasp. He will never leave you. He's always loved you and has been by your side, through thick and thin. Let him be your comfort. Let him be the happiness and the peace you seek."