Before You Keep Someone a Prisoner of Their Past, Consider This
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
We get it. The world is filled with bad people and people aren't always as they seem. It would be naive to think that everyone grows from their experiences or even commits to a change that would yield maturity and personal growth. Some people enjoy the power they feel from hurting or bringing chaos to others, many do not want to address their toxic behavior because that is how they get their attention, and others simply just exude evil.
But when do we stop and remember that sometimes even good people make bad choices or can lose their way? Is it that hard to believe a chapter of someone’s life doesn’t dictate their whole story? Have we forgotten that time, experience, tough love, and God all have the power to change someone and the course of their life? There’s a difference between seeking discernment and distancing ourselves from those who can or want to harm us versus degrading and defining people by the trials that worked together to refine them. It’s time we distinguish the difference between a low point and a lifestyle, and learn to execute empathy instead of ignorance.
What Happened to Saving Face?
It’s sad to think that many people don’t think twice to share an old mugshot, spread rumors of the past, or discredit people that are obviously beyond their low point and trying their best to live happy, healthy, and humble lives. Truth is, if someone has to speak in past tense about a person or resort to low blows, maybe they shouldn’t be speaking about others at all. Maybe they should be searching themselves.
It never fails that those who try to reveal past faults, failures, or flaws about another person consequently reveal much more about themselves. Why? Because mentally sound, spiritually grounded, and healed individuals do not find pleasure in the pain or problems of others. It’s those who are stagnant, childish, petty, immature, hurting, or unhappy that get an ounce of joy in putting someone else down or seeing their downfall. People who have experienced authentic growth and maturity do not have an issue fathoming the concept that people can change and grow, because they too have experienced it.
What If the Tables Were Turned?
Who are we to further condemn someone whenever we know that they have taken their consequence, learned, and grew from whatever they experienced? Who are we to call someone by their past sin whenever we know good and well God has covered many of ours and spared us further pain and even embarrassment? Who are we going to hold someone back, whenever we too struggle to move past certain things? Who are we to keep someone bound whenever they have been set free?
Life has a funny way of letting us become the people we once judged, and allowing us to experience the same emotions that we once discredited in others. As confident and put together things may be now, we don’t know what we will face tomorrow or what position we will be put in down the road. If the tables were turned, we would not want people reminding us of our failures or preying on our weaknesses. We would want people to speak live into our dreams, see our refinement and not our regret, and pray for our overall good.
Even The Flawed Have Favor
Some of the most beautiful souls to walk this Earth were born again in prison. Some of the most amazing parents and leaders once suffered with addiction. Some of the people who have the strongest faith only started to blossom it after they experienced weakness in their personal lives. Some of the wisest people we know gained their insight as a result of their foolishness.
The way we view someone else does not dictate their worth. You see, God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. Which is why He can use a person’s most shameful chapter, most painful experience, or what they view as their most embarrassing flaw to be the very testimony needed to get one of His other children through their tests and trials. Every piece to our life’s puzzle serves a purpose: the pain, imperfection, problems, and past. If we learn our lessons, seek to understand His will over our own, and give our lives: the very storms sent to destroy us can be used for our good and the good of others.
Empathy and Encouragement Go a Long Way
Most people have looked for healing, direction, and validation in the wrong things at some part in their life or tried to fill voids that only dug them deeper. That doesn’t make them horrible. That makes them human.
See a person‘s progress and not just their past. Learn from their lessons and appreciate the growth from their journey. No one’s life is perfect, but that doesn’t stop them from having a greater purpose.