The Struggle is Real

Disclaimer…… this is longer than my normal blogs but I sure hope you will take a few minutes to read it if you can 🙂


I was recently asked to speak at a women’s event in our area. To be completely honest with you all I was so scared. Speaking is something I feel very called to do, especially speaking to women, but when the opportunities arise so does my freak out mode.


As I was praying about what I was going to speak about at this event I was personally studying about unrealistic expectations and what those looked like in my life. I thought and was hoping that would be what the Lord would lay on my heart to speak about… in the midst of studying He lead me on a journey to so much more and I was so grateful. I wanted to share with you all 3 things that the Lord showed me that hinder us, or at least me, from becoming the women that He created us to be.


The first thing is what I was originally studying… Unrealistic Expectations.(I wrote a past blog called “Failed” that this first points stems from so some of this first part my be familiar to you if you have read that!)

As I was studying this and preparing, I keep thinking to myself “This is for sure the one that I struggle with the most” but then I kept looking at the other two and realized I just really struggle with all 3 of them in different ways and in different seasons.


For me unrealistic expectations have really buried me at times. My greatest dream was to move to Nashville and be Gretchen Wilson. I did make part of that dream happen by moving to Nashville, but if you know anything about me or country music you know that other than my redneck tattoo on my shoulder (if you know, you know) I am nothing like Gretchen Wilson.


Growing up I was always the girl in the spotlight. I was a singer, dancer, cheerleader… You name it. If it had a stage I was on it. As much as I loved all of those things and had a wonderful childhood, those formative years of my life put so many unrealistic expectations on my adult life. I began to believe that if I wasn’t on a stage… if people didn’t know my name… if I wasn’t doing something great enough or big enough then that meant “I” wasn’t enough. It meant that I was wasting my life. It meant that I moved away from my family and I failed at what I was supposed to do. I failed at who everyone thought I would be. Looking back I can so clearly see how the enemy planted those seeds in my life at such a very young age. His goal is to ALWAYS rob us of our faith and to steal, kill and destroy us. Jn 10:10 And I almost let Him. But God.


For years these unrealistic expectations in my life buried me. No job was good enough. Every time I tried a new one I would describe it to my family and friends as something so much more than it really was because I wanted them to see me as being up on this platform of life that I was so tirelessly chasing after. I wanted people to look at me and think that I had done something really great with my life! That moving to Nashville wasn’t wasted. That my life wasn’t wasted. But no matter what I did or said I still couldn’t shake feeling like I failed at life in general. I wasn’t a singer, I was in my 30’s and not married, I wasn’t a mom, I wasn’t on a platform. I wasn’t any of the things I was supposed to be. So in my mind the only thing that I was, was a failure.

I finally stirred up the guts to go see a Christian counselor and after I exhaled my entire life story on her as fast as I could she asked me a question that changed my life. She said to me “What is it that you have really failed at?” When I stopped and took a minute to look back… there was not one thing that I talked to her about that I truly failed at. Nothing. At that moment I began to realize that what I saw as failure all of these years was really unrealistic expectations that I put on myself.


The chasing, the striving… I was exhausted. I was mad at God because I believed that He let me down. But all along He was waiting for me to stop chasing after the things of this world. To stop trying to please people with my life. To stop trying to be accepted and celebrated by people. He didn’t created you or me to be accepted. We are created to stand out for Him. He didn’t create us to be celebrated… we are to celebrate Him. How easy it is to fix our eyes on our on situations, on our own desires, on our own plans and miss it completely. That is the goal of the enemy!!


All the while He is calling out to us..

.Daughter! Stop striving! You are chasing and running and exhausting yourself trying to become someone I never called or created you to be. Stop striving. You are loved. There is nothing that you could do to make me love you one ounce more than I already do. Nothing. There is no way that you can look that could make me think that you are any more beautiful and perfect than you are this very moment. You are enough and you are mine and I have a great and specific purpose that I created you uniquely for, if you will just stop looking to this world for approval and fix your eyes on me.


That is the key. We have to fix our eyes on Him. We have to lock our eyes in so tightly to Him that we don’t get swayed to the right or left but stay on the straight path that He has for us. Pr. 4:25-27 We have to take off the heavy burdens of these unrealistic expectations that we have been carrying around and lay them at His feet. We have to fully surrender our plans and dreams to Him.


I pray that you can begin to see what expectations you have on your life that you were never meant to carry. I pray that you and I can be so locked in to Him so aware of His presence in our lives that nothing else matters. No ones approval is needed but His. We are enough.
The second thing that can hinder us from becoming the women that He created us to be is Comparison.


Can I just start this one with a confession… if you have posted on social media within the last few years that you are expecting a baby I may or may not have unfriended you. RIGHT! Come on. Don’t act like you haven’t been there.. Maybe you didn’t unfriend the person but maybe you did unfollow them… You know that way they don’t know that you did it!

Social media has made it so much easier for us to compare ourselves to each other. Especially us women! My husband thinks I am 100% insane sometimes. It has come to the point where I have said to him so many times… “Did you see so and so is pregnant?” “Did you see they are pregnant again?” All the while I am sitting their stewing because I am not. He finally said to me “ While I guess I am either going to have to impregnate you or you need to get off social media!” Of course I heard the first part of that statement and agreed. But you all, I also remember doing this to him while we were dating about people getting engaged too. It doesn’t stop.. (Sorry Bobby!)

There will always be the next thing to compare our lives too and strive for if we are looking for our contentment, peace and fulfillment in this world or in the lives of others.

I know that I am not the first one to say this and I am sure that you have heard this before but so have I and it still obviously hasn’t completely sank in… We are comparing our lowest moments to someones else’s social media highlights. The majority of the time that I am on social media I am bored and don’t have much else to do. By the end of my endless scrolling I am still bored but now I am also mad, lonely, fat, broke and have downed an entire bag of baked lays. Why? Because I have sat there and allowed myself to compare myself to her. Or my marriage to theirs. Or my thighs to hers. Why is it so hard for us as women to understand that we are created so beautifully unique. So perfectly set apart. Each feature is perfect in His sight. He made us, He formed us, everyone of us and every part of us. He numbered our hairs He is ordering our steps! We are all equally needed. He has no favorites! Acts 10:34


We have to understand that just because she may have someone you want doesn’t mean that God is keeping something from you because she has done more, or she is a better mom, or christian or wife. It means that you are not her. It means that He is writing your story. It means that what may feel like the Lord keeping something from us could very well be the process we are needing to go through for Him to bring something even better to us! His story for me is perfect. His story for you is perfect.


I know it’s so hard to watch and celebrate others getting things you so desire. In this season for me it’s so hard to go to baby showers. To walk those isles at target to pick out that perfect outfit or toy and then have to give it away. It’s so hard. But you know what… He knows. Though it may bring me great grief at times, He knows, He sees me, and I know He is still good and my story is not over, it just looks different than hers. He is always good and He always has good in mind for us no matter what process we may have to go through to get there. Just think about the cross and the process and pain Jesus had to endure for us. But without the cross where would we be?


This comes back again to the same place.. Fixing our eyes and locking them on Jesus. Our Father. Taking our gaze off of others and their lives and placing it on Him. Taking the focus off our ourselves and desires and choosing to live a fully surrendered life to Him… NO MATTER WHAT.
The last thing that can hinder us from becoming the women He created us to be is Our Past.


Every single one of us has a different story. I don’t know what your past looks like, I don’t know what you did or what may have been done to you, but I do know that there is Someone greater than any of it. He is the great Forgiver. He is the great Healer. He is the great Redeemer. He is the only One that can take every single thing, every single thought, every single pain, every single trial that has come against you in your life, every dart that the enemy has thrown at you trying to take you out, He is the only one that can take ALL OF IT, all of it that was meant to bury you and leave your for dead and breath life into it and turn it around for good. Rom 8:28


In your life you may have done so many things wrong, in your life so many wrongs things may have been done to you BUT GOD IS ABLE. And He is willing.


The life of Paul has to stand out as an example for us… if an author of the Bible can stand and say “ I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” Rom 7:15 I think we are in good company. We have all made mistakes. I look back over my life and it breaks my heart some of the things that I have done and some of the things that I have said. How hurtful I could be. I would love to say that all of these things were before I knew the Lord but that is just not the case.


How grateful I am for the grace, mercy, forgiveness and love of Jesus. How grateful I am that when He breathed His last breath the veil was torn and now I can come freely before the Lord and lay it all out there! I can repent, I can praise and worship Him and I can be forgiven.


There is nothing that the enemy would love more than to keep you bound in chains by your past, than to make you hold on to bitterness, offense and unforgiveness so you can’t push through and become the woman God created you to be. Nothing more.
But if you will allow the Lord to show you these things that are harboring inside of you that you may have never dealt with I can promise you with everything in me that you will find freedom there. He is so good guys. He has such an amazing story that He is not finished writing in your life. We can’t let the enemy keep us locked in these chains of our past, of our hurts, of our unforgiveness, or bitterness or offense and end the story before it was finished.


I know this was super long… I warned you 🙂 but to sum it all up my greatest prayers for you and for me today are that we can leave our unrealistic expectations of who we think we are supposed to be behind us once and for all. That we can learn to celebrate and champion each other instead of compare ourselves to each other, that we can pray to the Lord to search our heart and help us uproot and deal with anything that may be hindering us that is in our past and we can be obedient and faithful to deal with it like He wants us too. I pray that we can lock our eyes so tightly on Jesus that we don’t need the approval of anyone else to know that we are loved, we are enough and we are beautiful.


If you read all of this know that I wish I could give you a big hug, a cup of coffee or a least a cookie! Or maybe a Taco? I don’t know… Obviously I am hungry now. Thanks for journeying along with me though and always know I would love to agree in pray and pray for you if you need. You can email me at ashley@ashleymcclain.org and I will do just that!
Love you all.

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