Daughter's Search for Love Yields an Amazing Discovery

“I loved my daddy.  I wanted my daddy to love me I wanted to be accepted by my dad. But I never felt that.”  Ashley longed for her father to dote on her, but his attention was elsewhere. She recalls, “He was drunk, high, whatever, I don't know.  I know he was messed up. So I experienced a lot of rejection. The fact that he would say he loved me so much and then he would leave really confused me.”

Her parents divorced when she was six. After that Ashley saw even less of her dad. She said, “I felt like something was wrong with me, like I wasn't good enough to be loved. Because if I was good enough, my dad would love me. I was majorly insecure because of that, majorly depressed.” Then her mother started going out drinking and doing drugs, which isolated Ashley even more. She recalls, “I was very mad at my mother as a child.  And we just didn't really have much of a relationship. Made me so hard-hearted.” Ashley still loved her dad and hoped one day he would come back into her life. But when she was 16 he died from a drug overdose. She said, “I was mad at him you've-you've left me my entire life, you've chosen drugs, women, everything else over me my entire life, and now the thing that you've chosen has killed you and I'll never have you again.”

Ashley started smoking pot, which led to pills and then cocaine. “All that anger and that pressure, that hate, that depression that I had experienced my entire life, when I was high it was lifted and I felt – I felt light, like I had never experienced before.  And I loved it.” Ashley went on to say, “I went through a lot of boyfriends during that time, looking for male acceptance the love of a father that's what I was craving.”

Just before high school graduation, Ashley learned she was pregnant and for the sake of the baby – stopped using drugs. She recalls, “I was so miserable.  I was mad because I wanted to be high.  I did not like the way I felt sober.  You know, I had no goals, no dreams, nothing going for me.  I was just depressed and hopeless.” After Jaleigh was born, Ashley tried to stay clean, but the temptation was too great. She said, “I wouldn't do the drugs in front of her.  You know, I'd keep her in the living room and I'd go hide and do drugs and then come back. I started dating a guy, he sold drugs and did drugs and I was desperate to be loved by a man, and he made me feel important, so I went with it.” But when Jaleigh’s dad learned about Ashley’s boyfriend he took her to court and won custody of their daughter, who was now 2 years old. This tore Ashley to pieces. “Now I've got the pain from my dad, the anger, my depression, and now I've got this guilt and shame because I've completely betrayed my daughter and I've lost her. I mean, it gave me even more reason to want to be numb.”

She saw her daughter on occasion, but spent most of her time strung-out on crystal meth. She was in-and-out of jail on drug charges - 15 times in one year alone. Ashley recalls, “So I just did all the drugs I could get my hands on. I just was like "Wow, I am just like my dad."  When a grade-school friend invited Ashley to church she was reluctant but decided to give it a try. She said, “I just remember they were worshipping and I was listening to the songs and I just began to weep, and I was just weeping and weeping and it felt so good.  It was such a beautiful feeling and it felt – it felt like pure love and acceptance. And I loved it.”  Despite the experience, Ashley was still addicted to meth. She remembers, “And I would try to read my Bible, but I didn't understand it. I didn't have anyone to disciple me or teach me. And I just very easily gave up. I would chase the drug. That was – that was all I cared about.  But I never again doubted if God was real or not. I knew he was real.”

Years later, when preparing to get high, Ashley had had enough. “I was at a place where I was getting tired of it, tired of living like this. It was like "What am I doing? Who am I?" She recalls,  “And it was like God put a mirror in my face.  And for the first time it mattered, it mattered.  It wasn't okay all of a sudden. And I just started bawling. And I just said, "God, please help me."  I said, "I – I want out of this.  I'm so ready to get out of this."  And I said, "I'll go to jail, I'll go to rehab, whatever it takes."  And I just said, "As long as you'll go with me and you'll give me the strength."

Four days later she was arrested and sentenced to a 6-month prison substance abuse program. Ashley recalls, “So I wanted to change at this point, but I just felt like it was too difficult. I wanted to be different, but how do you get out of this lifestyle, the only thing you know?” At the first opportunity, Ashley attended a prison chapel service and committed her life to Christ. She said, “I really wanted to quit doing drugs and quit living the life I had been living, and I knew that God was the only way. They prayed a prayer and I repeated it. "Lord, I trust my life to you, forgive me of my sins."

Ashley used her time in the program to get off drugs and grow closer to God. She remembers, “I was reading my Bible and praying and going to any church service that they had in the jail and learning more about God and-and really, I was feeling like he was starting to speak to me and I was building a relationship with God.” She also learned to forgive her parents. “I was so angry at my dad and my mom and I was holding on to this unforgiveness. Forgiving my dad took 100 pounds off of me”

After her release Ashley was drug free and on her way to her new life with Christ. Today she is married and has a 3-year-old daughter. She also shares joint custody of her first daughter, Jaleigh. “My relationship with God fills every need that I've ever had.” Ashley says, “I mean, even with my dad, you know, it's just holes that only God can fill and I sought it in everything else all that time, drugs, men, money, friends.  But since I've – just the very moment I gave my life to the Lord and started building a relationship with him, just like the closer I get to him the more satisfied and fulfilled I am in every way, and he's all that I need.  I mean that's all that I need is Jesus.”

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