MOTIVATION: Ashley Thaba

AROUND this time of year, we all reflect on the past year and think about whether we would like to make some changes in the current year. Today I want to focus on how when we look towards the future, we need to let go of the bad and the good of the past.

My outlook on life is generally sunny and optimistic because I have no problems letting go of bad things in my past. I have made deliberate decisions to forgive those who have hurt me. I have trained my mind to focus on positive though tempted to think about the negative. I have chosen to love those who are mean to me. I am not saying I am perfect but these are intentional choices I mentally make on a regular basis.

But, there have been times when I am hesitant to let go of good things in the past. Some would say “oh the good old days when…” Maybe it is a friendship you used to have which has gone sour and you miss those days. Maybe it is a job position that you once held and felt powerful and useful. Maybe it is the early days of marriage that were full of love and happiness. Maybe it is when your kids were little and there was so much laughter around the house and now they are older and would prefer to stay in their room and really don’t care much whether you are in the house or not. There are so many scenarios where we get so caught up in missing what used to be that we don’t create a good life today.

Those days might have been good but you were a part of making them good so you can be a part of making your future good too! Also, let’s keep in mind that sometimes these “harder days” are building us up to go even higher in the future “glory days”.

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Let me get personal in an effort to make this practical. I came to Botswana from America 20 years ago. I worked in all the junior and secondary government schools in Francistown in addition to working with the youth at Francistown Baptist Church. I loved it! Everyday I felt God was using my life to make positive impacts in these kids’ lives. Parents would tell me how their children’s lives had changed as they learned more about God and His truths. Youths would testify that they never felt anyone truly cared but now that they had met Jesus, they felt loved. Young men and women would vow that they wouldn’t follow in the immoral ways of their peers now that they understood God’s plan for purity and integrity in their lives. Headmasters of the schools thanked me for the noticeable difference observed since I began teaching the Bible. My life had a purpose and my heart was full of love for the Batswana youth I daily worked with. My days were spiritually fulfilling. I ended up meeting and marrying an unbelievable Motswana man and we went abroad while he studied computer engineering.

After obtaining his degree, we had to make a choice whether to stay in America where he had an awesome high paying job or come back to Botswana, where we knew jobs were scarce and the few that are available at his high level of IT skill and project management are generally hard to get if you aren’t willing to participate in corrupt practices. I knew it wouldn’t be easy financially, but I remembered those “glory days” — those days where everyday I felt like my presence in Botswana somehow made other people’s lives a little brighter. We decided to leave everything in America and return. But, now as a married woman with small children, it wasn’t like I remembered. As a hands on stay at home mom, I struggled to find time to get to the grocery store juggling keeping the house clean, breastfeeding, making meals, nap times, and trying to spend quality time bonding with my children. I yearned for the “glory days” — the days where my life felt like it “meant something”. God kept reminding me that this was a season. I needed to learn to see the beauty in this season and avail myself for the lessons He was trying to teach me. For ten years, I stayed at home full time — homeschooling my children and focusing almost exclusively on allowing God to use me to bless my kids and husband. Honestly, it was a lonely and boring decade because as an extrovert, I like being with people! As an intellectual, I craved stimulating conversation that I was not getting hanging with toddlers all day. As an evangelist, I missed teaching the Bible and sharing the gospel helping others with spiritual enlightenment. About three years ago, God finally availed the chance for me to step back a bit at home and venture more into the professional and public space again. He has opened up tremendous doors that now have me writing this column for five countries each week, being invited regularly for public motivational speaking gigs and now my husband and I have our own television marriage show called Talking with the Thabas, which you can follow on Facebook. I now realise that God had to humble me in those 10 years and train me in ways of marriage and home building so that my ministry reach could be even greater and more effective than it once was.

May I encourage you today — no matter what season you are in, this is the day the lord has made! Rejoice and be glad in it! Seek God first and everything else will fall into place and who knows… maybe your future is going to be brighter than your past if you allow yourself to go through the fire and be refined by the God who loves you and wants to work things out for your good if you will choose to trust Him with your life and walk in obedience to His word and will for you.

Ashley Thaba is a popular life-coach, team-building facilitator and motivational speaker. She is also the author of Conquering the Giants and Dive In. You can view some of her works on her YouTube channel: Ashley Thaba.