top of page

Happiness Is Saying Thank You; Gratitude Got Me To The Groom

By Ashleigh Hardy

Image by DSH Photography

July 6th, 2014

I was on my way to church, crying. Actually, I was bawling. I mean, I almost was going to pull over to get this good morning cry out that had become my AM routine, but I had a parking spot at church that a white Cadillac would have snatched up if I had not been there by 9:30 am. So, I kept driving. I didn’t care who saw me. I had put in so much work to heal that rip in my heart that I had gained a year and some months prior. I sat through church, trying to focus, but it’s hard when you feel numb and you’re too busy trying to zoom in on the ring fingers of any handsome guy that passes by you.

“I give up, God!” I screamed as I looked into the mirror with endless tears rolling down my face. “I’m done. I don’t know what I am doing wrong and I’m done feeling this way”, and then it happened.

After church ended, I got in my car and cried all the way home. Parked in my garage, went up to my room, turned on my gospel music and fell out across my floor. Kierra Sheard’s ‘Kill the Dragon’ was playing and I lost it. “I give up, God!” I screamed as I looked into the mirror with endless tears rolling down my face. “I’m done. I don’t know what I am doing wrong and I’m done feeling this way”, and then it happened. I had this calm come over me. I’ve felt it before, usually when I’m praying for something or for an answer. It was a peace and him saying to my thoughts, “You’re working too hard. Focus on me and be grateful”.

That’s when I realized that I was making progress in all areas of my life, but I was focused on the wrong things. I was trying to excel in life to fix my fear of being single. I thought, if I read my bible more and convinced myself to enjoy my current season, then that void I’ve been trying to fill would become full. Getting over a breakup of 9 years, attempting to heal, and being rejected by someone I really liked caused me to allow my fear to lead my actions. Especially with my relationship with God. Yes, I read my bible and I became even more involved in my church not only because I wanted to be a better servant, but I also wanted God to see that I’m doing the right things.

It was like, hey God, I’m over here doing this like you wanted so whenever you want, feel free to send that blessing of my husband any minute. In the middle of my crying fit, I realized I was doing it all wrong. I was sorry for losing sight of Him and our relationship. I was sorry for losing sight of what it meant to be a Christian. I was sorry I began to take advantage of the “everyday blessings” that now seemed like a routine instead when I used to praise Him for it in my nightly prayers. Those should've been the things that my happiness was grounded in.

That was the day my life took a turn for the best.

"It was like I had a new purpose, an excitement to learn who my God was all over again."

It was like I had a new purpose, an excitement to learn who my God was all over again. I centered my life around gratefulness, and who I was becoming as I developed my relationship with my G-O-D. I began thanking Him for what I like to call my “bent season”. I was bruised, and a little scared, but I wasn’t broken. Instead of feeling sad and regretful for being in those two relationships, I began to see that I had to go through all of that to get to this very breakthrough. It was necessary.

I started working on a ministry with a friend that was dedicated to helping singles going through similar circumstances. Our goal was to help individuals find contentment in their single season, develop self-love, and deepen their relationship with Christ. That ministry was a season in my life that strengthened me in ways I can’t put into words. As I grew stronger personally, and spiritually, I was able to reach people in a way I would never have been able to if it had not been for my previous experiences. Although I’d never want to go through it again, I was thankful that God believed in me enough to go through what I did so that I could help those going through their own bent season.

It was that ministry that ultimately led me to my gift. No, not my calling type of gift. The one I had been praying to God for: Jonathan. The name Jonathan means “given of God”. On May 29th, 2015, God led me to Jonathan. It was the day we were officially launching our ministry and months before I had slid into his DM (as a complete professional) to see if he would be interested in doing spoken word for our event. Mind you, we had never met, but we had mutual friends from high school and I knew that he wrote poetry and had posted some snap-worthy spoken word videos on his Instagram page.

He kindly agreed. In those first few moments of us introducing ourselves and chatting about our week leading up to this event, I felt that peace again. It was like a blanket that just wrapped me up real cozy-like. I thought to myself; “He’s really nice, we’ll probably be really good friends”. That’s where my mind was. I was thankful to have truly been able to get to a place of contentment where I was just glad to be where God wanted me. Doing His work, focused on Him, and finding thanks in small things - like having a great conversation with a handsome brother-in-Christ who I considered to be my new friend.

August 15th, 2015

Our friendship blossomed, and we became “exclusive”. One of the best things that we ever did for our relationship was stayed off of social media. It may not be for everybody, but I highly recommend it and here’s why. Research shows that couples who don’t post about their relationship on social media tend to be much happier. It allowed us to keep the nosey people out of our business and from oversharing all of the great things about our relationship. Public consumption is real, and we both preferred to keep our relationship between us and those that knew us personally, not the whole world. It also let us have our special cryptic messages.

On my Instagram page, when I post something referring to my Future Forever Best Friend, people think I’m referring to a man I have yet to meet. We didn’t want social media to consume us. Everyone is on their phone these days! You feel like a part of your life is missing when you don’t have your phone with you. By staying off of social media, it allowed us to become better communicators and give one another our undivided attention when we spent time together. Dinner is a lot more fun when you’re able to have a great conversation instead of you both being preoccupied with your phone. There’s no right or wrong way on how you should carry out your relationship on social media. All I know is the saying, “You don’t have to post it to prove it” worked for us and for that I can’t help but be thankful.

May 15th, 2017

I came home from having dinner with my sister when she asked me to go look at the ravines behind our condo. I reluctantly went because I was super tired from a long weekend. Little did I know that in a few moments I would be having an out of body experience with my Future Forever Best Friend asking me to be his wife for life. God gave me double for my trouble that week with a proposal on a random Monday that I’ll never forget and a promotion the following day that afforded me a salary that would help me pay for my semi-Pinterest wedding. He knew exactly what my heart and my bank account needed!

June 2nd, 2018

I look forward to this day. Before all the hustle and bustle of the day begins, I plan on spending 20 minutes in my room by myself. I plan to spend that time alone with Him. Not only is He a kind and deserving God who should get my utmost attention on that day, but He’s a suddenly God who can change the course of your life with one “hello”. These past 6 years are proof that everything comes to you at the right moment. It’s OK to cry, it’s normal to feel frustrated sometimes with your situation whatever it may be.

Remember that you have control over how you choose to feel during your waiting season. Once I was able to clearly hear what God wanted me to do, I worked hard to be patient and to be thankful. By doing so I unlocked a fullness in my life that I was trying so hard to find. Having a grateful mindset helped me change denial into acceptance, a stranger into a friend, and bewilderment into certainty. I was able to transform myself from one version to a better version. No doubt it was challenging, but it was so worth it.

Ladies, I said all of that to say that there is no secret to finding happiness in your life. The key is to have a thankful heart that praises Him in advance for all the blessings He has for you that are a part of your future. Remember that your life will reap what you sow. It’s not easy to be grateful when you’re in the midst of challenge in your life. Your storm may be a relationship, the loss of a loved one, your finances, your career, school, or your business. Whatever it is that you’re facing, be patient and be thankful, and then watch how happiness will find you.

Tell us! Are you loving the content so far? Share your thoughts on social media using #AdvanceMagazine. Follow Us on Instagram!

Summer 2018


bottom of page