It’s my turn to write a blog, and guess what? I don’t really know what to say. Its Saturday morning, it’s pretty yucky out right now, and the inspiration and juices just aren’t flowing. But, here goes nothing. What I want to tell you all today, is that you don’t have to be a product of your past. You don’t have to fall victim to your past, you don’t have to listen to your past, you don’t have to walk according to your past, all you have to do, is LEARN from your past.
This past week I had some really powerful encounters with people, who both had pretty rough paths growing up. I’ll change names for privacy sake, but person #1 is Eddie and person #2 is Marquez. Eddie grew up with a lack of support from the home, didn’t feel loved, wasn’t properly supported at home, matter of fact his greatest influences were older drug dealers in his neighborhood. If we don’t have loving parents to raise us, someone else will, and sometimes who that is, isn’t always good. Hanging around bad influences ended up costing Eddie years in prison. But what happened to him and even the choices he made, didn’t have to define him. When He got out of prison and years later, he realized that he couldn’t even help his 2nd grader with homework. Matter of fact it wasn’t until age 37 that Eddie was able to write and read his own name. Eddie went back to school to get his GED, for the simple reason that he wanted to be able to help his kids with homework. After 6 failed attempts, he finally got his GED. That didn’t stop him, he entered into community college to work towards a degree, and after 8 years, Eddie got an associates degree. What a beautiful story, a story of pain turned purpose, a story of grit and courage and not giving up. You don’t have to let your past dictate your worth, Eddie didn’t, and neither do you and I.
Last week I met with a young man named Marquez who lives in a local neighborhood in East Charlotte. To keep the story very vague, I simply asked him to tell me his story. To my surprise he committed murder before the age of 13, and spent over 11 years in prison for his crime. The first thing I did, was tell him the good news that Jesus forgives any and all sins that we have committed and rights all the wrongs that we have made. I told him that Jesus levels the playing field for us all and that according to Jesus i’m actually a murderer and no better than him. Now his consequence was different than mine, but our label as broken men who are in need of love and redemption, is the same. I realized in that moment, that the same God who woke him up that morning and gave him new mercies, is that same God that woke me up, and gives me new mercy. Because, after all, the playing field has been leveled and we both get a chance to StILL DO SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL WITH OUR LIVES.
So today, your past doesn’t have to define you. Your shame can go to hell where it belongs. You are worthy to live a beautiful story and you are worthy of love, REGARDLESS of your past. Be encouraged, we have HOPE.