Then they scoffed, “He’s just a carpenter, the son of Mary and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon. And his sisters live right here among us.” They were deeply offended and refused to believe in him. Mark 6:3 (NLT)
This past weekend, my friend Matthew and I led a weekend workshop for men about shame. We shared the truth that we are all products of broken families, broken cultures, and we ourselves are broken people. Our past is riddled with painful memories, scathing and destructive messages, moral failures, and embarrassing moments that easily mix themselves into a cocktail of shame. Instead of accepting the truth that we have made mistakes and being motivated to let God change us, we become paralyzed with the notion that we are mistakes who can never change.
Our faith journey is about moving forward and pressing on. Along the way we progress and experience God’s transforming work in our lives. Old things pass away and new things come. Yet, there will always be those who are determined to remind us of who we were while casting a blind eye to who we have become. Some will refuse to accept the change in us. Others will go so far as to continually remind us of our past.
During a question and answer time this weekend, Matthew and I were asked how each of us handled our own public failures, the lies, slander and misjudgement which accompanied them. For me, there were two key ingredients that kept me pushing forward. First, my relationship with God was strong and remained unphased by all the chaos. God and I both knew what was true. Second, I had a few precious friends who had my back.
I thought about that as I read of Jesus’ own experience with public doubt and scandal. His old neighbors could not make the mental leap from the preconceived notions they had about Him and the reality of who He was. But Jesus was in a tight relationship with His heavenly Father and knew the truth of who He was and what He was called to do. And, He had a few close followers who knew Him and believed in Him.
Today, I’m thankful for the person God has allowed me to become – especially as I acknowledge and learn from the person I have been.