From house fires and depression to believing: Ashlea Gutierrez
written by Ebony Williams
The accomplishments of Ashlea Gutierrez far exceed her age of 25. She graduated Cum Laude from Texas A&M in 2013 and is currently on the promotions team for the Dallas Cowboys. This past December, she passed her Elementary Education Certification, and is currently helping to start a non-profit organization called Little Hearts of Hope in the DFW community. Her most recent accomplishment was winning Miss Dallas USA 2016.
Even with her great success, Guiterrez has faced some struggles when it comes to her faith. Through these hardships, she allowed God to turn her “mess into a message.”
Q: How has God changed your life?
“God definitely took my mess and made it into a message. I got the call from my dad explaining that our home had caught fire and that he and my mom had barely made it out of our home in Beaumont after he somehow woke up earlier than his alarm for work. I immediately drove the three-hour trip from College Station back to Beaumont where I met my dad, who never cries, with a burnt arm and tears streaming down his face.
The rest of that summer and through my last semester at Texas A&M, I fought a daily battle to get out of bed and go to class, let alone hang out with friends. I stopped going to church. I stopped praying. I stopped trying and caring what was happening around me.
I had no idea what was happening to me. All I wanted was to not have this weight constantly on my shoulders and cloud over my head. I cried out to God in anger questioning “why?” Somewhere during my sobbing and shouting at God there was an incredible breakthrough in my faith and a renewed hope and trust in the Lord.
Depression is not a “black and white” diagnosis. However, it was soon determined that I was in fact suffering from this demon. I started seeing a counselor on campus and began a daily anti-anxiety/ anti-depression medication to help balance out my emotions. It took around three months to figure out the correct dosage and then I finally, FINALLY began to feel like myself. I still had an incredibly long road to get myself back fully on my feet but this was a great start. That was huge turning point for me and eventually led me to start my Christian blog, WonderfulWalk.squarespace.com, where I revealed my battle with depression and how the perception and stigma of “mental illnesses” is not at all what people believe it to be. The amount of support and feedback I received after my first few blogposts where more than I could believe…past acquaintances expressed their gratitude for my transparency in my posts, and some friends I
never expected to be fighting depression explained how my words and story gave them hope.
I am thankful for that life transformation as it turned me back to Christ in the biggest and best way, making my faith even stronger than it was before. God definitely worked together all that I went through for good (Romans 8:28) and has made me a vessel and voice to encourage others. I pray that one day soon those afraid to say something will be able to speak out and help others battling the same war.” – Ashlea
Q: What where you feeling when you won Miss Dallas?
“I have competed in pageants for half of my life, but have only competed in two since my home burned down. After that tragedy my entire mindset and faith changed and I became a more trusting of God. When I decided to compete for Miss Dallas USA I had zero questions in my mind that this was God’s plan for me. I had sworn to myself that I would never compete again, but God truly renews! He renewed that desire in my heart and I entered, prepared, and competed with an air of peace. When I was one of the final two girls standing that weekend, I again felt peace where thoughts of doubt and anxiousness normally would dance in my head. I knew that no matter whose name was called as Miss Dallas, I had done what God asked of me and gave it my all. I was able to breathe and know that God’s plan would prevail. Then my name was called as Miss Dallas USA 2016 and I honestly felt like I was sweating praises and not drops of sweat! I became instantly excited for the ways God would use me this year and felt so honored that he chose ME to do this work!” – Ashlea
To follow Ashlea on her road to Miss Texas and in this incredible journey of life, stay connected via her websites: wonderfulwalk.squarespace.com and her personal site for those who need to understand depression a little more. http://ashleagutierrez.wix.com/projectlove