A few years ago, Mel Gibson, the worldwide movie star, had a very public and very terrible breakdown. He used racist, misogynistic, and sexually violent language talking about people, both in broad groups and specifically targeting a few, including his then girlfriend. After the dust of settlements and court hearings died down, Gibson essentially went into hiding.
Until this week, when he began to do the press tour for his new movie.
One of the stops was on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Now, I know Colbert to be mostly a comedian, but I also know he does not like to leave proverbial elephants in the room. I’ve watched him ask people some rather tough questions for a goofy late night talk show. So when Gibson came out, they eased the conversation to the topic of this very public breakdown. During the conversation, Colbert said something that struck me with such gracious poignancy, because I, and many others need to be reminded of it. He said:
“No person is their worst moment”
I’ve met a lot of people who like to joke that if they came to church, the roof would fall in on them. The implication from many of them is that they have too much baggage, too many mistakes to come to church. The congregation, and/or God, wouldn’t know what to do if they sat in the pews. All because of who they were.
They feel like they’re unwanted because of their past.
Many people feel like they are judged by the worst thing(s) they’ve done. What’s more, many people feel like they can’t escape their past. I’ve met a good number of people who feel like they are their past.
For some people, their moment is truly a single moment or choice they made.
For some, their moment is a short season of life.
For some, their moment last for years.
I’ve met soldiers whose ‘moment’ resulted in PTSD and broken relationships at home. I’ve met alcoholics who don’t feel like there’s a reason to stop. After all, once a drunk, always a drunk. I’ve met abuse victims who struggle to stop hearing the hurtful voices. I’ve met abusers who can’t forgive themselves for what they did, let alone ask for forgiveness from their victims.
People can, so easily, feel trapped by their past. The decisions and actions from years ago can linger in the form of guilt and/or a reputation.
But you are more than your worst mistakes. You’re a human being with a life time of moments, good, bad, and ugly, that have shaped you. They may even be definitive moments. But they don’t have the final say about who you are.
You are not your worst moment
This isn’t to say that everything in your life will be fixed with a single decision. Depending on what your “worst moment” was, it may take years of hard work to find healing and reconciliation. But each day that you choose that work is a day you are redefining who you are.
Here’s why I believe that you can be forgiven and reconciled from the worst moment of your life. God forgave and reconciled the worst moments of my life when I was unwilling too. My worst moments could easily define me with addiction, broken relationships, and self destruction. Instead, I am redefined and remade into something else.
So make the roof fall in.
And remember that I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it…