Ashley Pietrzykowski

       I was born and raised in Lloydminster to a healthy, loving, and supporting family. I spent my childhood and teen years playing sports, hanging out with a really great friend group, and thriving in my school work. My parents enrolled me in the Catholic school division in which I started and ended my school career. Throughout those years I learned a lot about Catholicism since it was mandatory that we attended masses once a month, and took a religion class. However, my family never attended church on their own time, nor did we speak about God on a regular basis. Everything I learned about God was through the small lens of the Catholic school division where you are taught, expected to memorize and then repeat on a test. I grew up believing there was a God, that we had to do good by following the Ten Commandments and going to church, but that was the extent of my belief. I valued sports more than going to church and fitting in with my friends more than the Ten Commandments.

I have nothing to complain about in my life, it was all wonderful growing up and I was very blessed, but as I entered my teen years I started going through some mind battles, although nobody would have known. The major things I want to touch on is sleep and meltdowns. Sleeping took me an average of two hours to fall asleep every night because when I laid down to turn my body off, my mind would click on. It was filled with anxiety about things of the future, assessments, and reassessments of my life and other people’s’ lives which lead to harsh judgments on myself and them. One by one the negative thoughts would stack on top of each other and then my mind would replay them over and over as if it was an obsession. I couldn’t calm my mind if I tried, and believe me, I tried everything. Meltdowns are what I termed sobbing in the corner of my closet when all my suppressed emotion, thoughts and lack of sleep bombarded me to a point of no control. You know what I had no control over? Perfection. I could not achieve it, nothing was good enough anymore and it drove me to this.

I found hope when I was 16. I started working at a local coffee shop, and one day this really nice, good-looking young man came in. We got to know each other as he visited often and eventually he got my number from his friend who was my coworker. He regularly asked me to hang out, but it took me 6 months to actually follow through with my “YES”. When I actually did the weirdest thing happened, we started talking about God and spiritual things! He wasn’t Catholic but yet believed in God too. I thought that was impossible- that he was in the wrong and basically off his rocker since I didn’t know any better. However, he intrigued me because there was something different about him than anyone else I had met. So I continued to hang out with him, with our conversations always resulted in me firing questions at him and him at me, which slowly started to make me question everything I had ever known.

After a few hundred times of him asking me to come to church, I finally did, but first I had to make sure I was late so I didn’t have to talk to anyone before. So to kill time I circled the church block three times before I went it. The pastor was already preaching, so I found a seat beside my friend and listened so, so, so intently that whole service. It was so interesting, and I learned something since at the Catholic Church I was always bored and never got anything out of it. The best part came at the end when they did an altar call and all I heard was “Do you want to be freed from your own mind? Jesus can do that.” My hand should have shot up, but I slowly raised it just so the pastor could barely see it. The next few things that happened is hard to explain with words, but I went and prayed out loud at the altar, felt tears coming but I resisted so hard and succeeded, and then the pastor came and prayed over me. I felt this shot of almost electricity come fill my whole body from my head to my toes, and at that moment, although I didn’t fully understand what was happening, God showed me He is not a mere fact to be memorized nor the simplicity of a belief, but a real, alive being who you can have a personal relationship with. That night I went home and had the best sleep ever.

My journey with God after that moment was an up and down one, but today I am so happy to say I am serving God in the church where He revealed Himself to me, now married to that nice, good-looking young man who for some reason never gave up on trying to get me to know Jesus the way he knew Him. As a result, my mind has been freed, sleep is a luxury and meltdowns have been exterminated because I know Jesus is the only perfection, and He accepts me exactly how I am.

Your life may seem good on the outside, with nothing to complain about, but how’s the inside?

Psalms 107:9 “For He satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul He fills with good things.”

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