I recently had a conversation with my uncle, and he reflected on his life growing up in the Robert Taylor Homes. For those who are unfamiliar, the Robert Taylor Homes were the low-income housing projects of Chicago. The dreams of far too many young people who lived there were snatched away by the penal system, gangs, or death. Because my uncle came from the projects, some people ruled him out before he even had a chance at life. Thankfully, my uncle wasn’t a statistic, and he proved his critics wrong. He and a handful of his friends from the projects became accomplished business professionals and impactful leaders in society. Among a host of others, his story serves as a reminder that it’s not about where we start; it’s where we finish.
Although we might not have been raised in a rough neighborhood, we’ve all had our fair share of heartache and pain in our youth and young adult years that would cause others (or even ourselves) to believe that our past limits our future.
Maybe you were raised in the foster care system. Maybe you were a teen parent or have a criminal record. Perhaps you are a survivor of childhood trauma or have struggled with an addiction your entire life. Regardless of the struggle, the devil loves to throw these things in our face and will do everything in his power to discourage, distract, and destroy us. But we must remember that Satan is the father of lies. He wants us to believe that we won’t be able to recover from the painful events in our past so we will throw in the towel, settle for less, or go down a path of destruction.
That’s why we must become fully attuned to the word of God, so when the adversary attacks, we can quickly reject his falsities and embrace the truth that none of these experiences have the power to limit God’s ability to use us to do incredible things for the kingdom.
“God is not intimidated by your past, and neither should you.”
In my book, Breaking the Power of the Mask, I spent time reflecting on some key principles in the Bible. We learn from 1 Corinthians 1:27, that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27). This is proof that God is not in the habit of using people who “have it all together” (as if anyone really does).
So many Christians have adopted the false belief that God cannot fully use them because of their brokenness. They are not "ready" to be used by God due to some areas of lack, pain, or sinfulness in their lives. These flaws we carry, hidden or pronounced, keep many of us distanced from stepping into the lives God is calling us to live. We have an "If I can just fix this area, God can use me” mindset.
Our society perpetually reinforces this way of thinking. People are quick to judge and ostracize someone as a result of their previous mistakes or less-than-favorable circumstances. The good news is that the God we serve does not operate like that. When people choose to dismiss you because of your flaws, God says, "I want you in spite of your flaws." When people say you will never be able to get past a horrific moment in your life, God says, "I have a purpose and destiny for you that is greater than your past and what you could ever imagine for your future." Our Lord is searching far and wide for broken vessels who are willing to surrender themselves to Him, because in our brokenness, He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Just think about the countless examples in the Bible where God used broken people for some of his most important work. He used Noah, who was a drunk, to build the ark. He used Moses, who murdered someone and was a poor public speaker, to bring the Israelites out of slavery and receive the Ten Commandments. He used Elijah, who was suicidal, as one of his greatest prophets. He chose David, who committed adultery and murder, to write a majority of the book of Psalms. He used Paul, who killed Christians for sport before his conversion, to write a majority of the New Testament and become one of his greatest evangelists.
At the end of the day, we are imperfect people living in a fallen world. And yet, God still desires to do incredible things through us for the kingdom of God. So we must refuse to fall into the trap of Satan by believing our past mistakes or our tumultuous upbringing can block God’s plans for our lives.
God’s plans for us are good.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you Hope and a Future.” Jeremiah 29:11.
God has a purpose for your life that is way bigger than any box someone might try to put you in. So today, I encourage you to take your power back and remember the world doesn’t have the right to define you; only God does.
If you are seeking additional support with letting go of the past so you can move forward into the calling God has on your life, consider connecting with one of our Christian Counselors. You can learn more by visiting faithonthejourney.org/counseling