For the Difficult Days

It took me a while to place my feet on the floor this morning. There are times when I am weary of rising, of getting up again, of fighting. Nayyirah Waheed, the prolific poet said, “All the women. In me. Are tired.” Indeed, they are. Sharing hearts with friends throughout the night, into the early morning hours, I kept thinking, how will I do this day?

One foot in front of the other.

Like we do all difficult days. Feet on the floor. Stand. Walk. Kiss the baby. Say I love you. Share a knowing with Cody. Shower. Dress. Walk. Kiss mama. Buy a coffee. Ham and cheese croissant. Sit at desk. Respond. Show up. I’m always encouraging people on the recovery journey to show up, and today I’m encouraging myself. Showing up is our best sometimes, and that’s enough.

I am drawing on the strength of others today, because that is what we do to keep going, to keep rising, to keep fighting. It is what we do to stay engaged in our communities, to stay present for each other, to remind ourselves that while these moments will impact our daily life over time, we are still very much in control of our love for one another. A dear friend, during our dialogue sent me this: I love you! And I need you to get out of bed and keep being you. You are a healer. He uses you to bring peace. You have a unique voice. You have a lot of work to do, my friend. So much more. 

We walked out of our door this morning, and our neighbor came down the stairs sobbing, so we stopped, and we sobbed together, just for a moment, because humanity needs us to show up today. Our crossing guard was ending her shift and traveling on my subway, so I stopped to smile and hold her eye longer than normal. I see her pain, because it’s mine. I sent my community group an email, with the subject line: Bring comfort food. Because we’ve got legitimate fears. Collectively, we are immigrants, and people of color, and women.We are also people of faith. We are tenacious, and accustomed to difficulty. We know how to overcome. Our hope, never in our circumstances, is secure.

Walter Brueggemann said, “Hope expressed without knowledge of and participation in grief is likely to be false hope that does not reach despair. …it is precisely those who know death most painfully who can speak hope most vigorously.”

I am finding my praise in my lament. It is my response to reality, a cry to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, a belief that He is faithful, sovereign and just, a song to carry my heart through. Friend, maybe you’re having a tough day. Maybe you’re thrilled. Maybe you couldn’t care less. Wherever you find yourself today, may I borrow from my friend, to encourage you?

We need you to show up, and keep being you. You are a healer. You can be a peacemaker. You have a unique voice – use it to lift the heads and hearts of others. We have a lot of work to do. It’s time to rise, time to love like we’ve never loved, time to understand and see each other, time to get to work in our homes, communities, cities and nation. We are lovers of humanity, and though we may feel despair, we are carriers of hope.

12-14 So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go!

15-17 This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” God’s Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what’s coming to us—an unbelievable inheritance! We go through exactly what Christ goes through. If we go through the hard times with him, then we’re certainly going to go through the good times with him!

18-21 That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

22-25 All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8, The Message

Sending you all my love today, dear friend.


Hey there fellow truth-teller, welcome to our community. I'm so glad you're here. I love to help people take their mask off and tell the truth, and I believe the world needs what you have to give. I write books and blogs, live in Harlem, New York, with my hubby, and two rambunctious boys.


  • Trying Ashleigh but it’s darn heard! I think I can only take a step when this nightmare is over! Am I up yet I don’t even know! But thank you for rising up again and again to be the voice of many whispers!! What the heck!!

  • Wow, I posted a response to you on another posting and it matches what you are saying here…God is crazy good!

  • Thanks my sister for getting it…for really getting it! Love love love you and am honored to be your sister. 😘

  • Ashley, I thank God for blessing us all with you. I’ve only recently come across your blog and I love the way that it immediately hit home for me. You completely get it and are able to empower others so fiercely with your words and the word of God.
    I just woke up (I’m in London!) thinking ah man I can’t face today but after reading your post my spirit feels refreshed. I can do this, sisters we can all do this through Christ who strengthens us.

    Ashley I hope you can draw on us all for strength to keep going it is so very much appreciated.
    Bless you and thank you so much. x

  • Hi,

    Came across your devotion, finding God in the hard times. The whole devotion spoke to me on a number of issues am either dealing or struggling with.

    Wasn’t sure whether to comment as l noticed from other comments l must be the only male responding!

    However thank you for bringing timely words of encouragement that have resonated with me in more ways than one 😃

    • Wayne, my brother, this made me laugh out loud! Thank you! I am so very grateful to have walked with you on your journey, and I pray for complete freedom and healing. God bless you!

  • From what I’ve read of yours this far, you have a gift of encouragement and transparency that will help to ultimately bring people closer to each other, themselves, and God. Many blessings and I’m looking forward to reading more of your post! P.S. I’m also reading the Finding God devotional via Youversion(which is amaze-balls!!!) That’s actually what led me to your blog😊

  • Ashley, I too, am doing your devotion… Finding God in the hard places on you version app… It’s encouraging me and I appreciate your truthfulness and openness. Life is kind of hard right now, struggling with a husband who has lyme disease and recovering from two shoulder surgeries myself… I’m leaning into God more and more each day, I look toward to reading your next post. April M.

    • Oh April, thank you for sharing! I am asking god that as you lean into Him, you would experience more of His grace and His love and His power to continue moving forward. He is with you, and He loves you. You are not alone. Sending you my love!

  • Wow, Ashley. This is beautiful. I haven’t been myself since the election. I am overwhelmed with life and daily worries and the results have been like a black cloud hanging over my head. I am very disappointed because I feel that so many voted out of fear instead of love. I know in time it will all make sense but I’ve had a hard time with it. Truthfully, this loss felt so personal as a woman, as a christian, and as someone who wants to see us move forward not backward. Thanks for these words and for being you. You are a bright light. Much love!!!!

  • Thank you Ashley for those inspiring words. I just finished “Finding God in hard places” and I can read that everyday forever. It was so inspiring and thought provoking. I had to “google” you and see if I can get more of this and I found your blog!! This post is very comforting and I will read it over and over again when I’m feeling discouraged. Thank you for being candid and bold in your walk of faith. It has truly touched me. May God bless you and keep you. May He continue to shower you with favor, grace and mercy.

  • Shoot, that Walter Brueggemann quote is beyond on point. I needed to hear that! And please thank your friend for that wonderful advice you passed on to us. You both are true friends knowing how to stand with someone in their pain and appropriately encourage them as they see their way out. So good!

  • You are a talented writer and have quite a gift. I appreciate you, your outlook, your effort, your wisdom, your voice, your encouragement. Working on a book yet?

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