there are two things in this world that i hold very near and dear to my heart: spring time and pop punk music.

yesterday i was able to experience a little bit of both of them.

less than a week after getting the largest snowfall in ten years, we had weather near 60 degrees. add to that a storm system rolling into town and you had 60 degrees and a perfect breeze. i decided to take advantage of the weather, hooked the dog to a leash, grabbed my headphones, and set off on a walk around the neighborhood.

this is where the pop punk music came into play.

as i was walking, i turned on spotify, started my favorite playlist, and all was right in the world.

outside. in february. with my dog. perfect weather.

yes please.

in the middle of the walk, a song that i hadn’t heard in a while came on. as i was listening to it, i was immediately back in my car five and a half years ago when the album first came out.

a week and a half before it was released, i was dumped. every song on that album hit me at the core of where i was at that time. for years and years, anytime i’d hear a song from that album, i’d go back to the pain and the hurt and everything that went along with the fall of 2008.

this time was different.

this time i was back in that car again, but i wasn’t in the driver’s seat anymore. instead, i was in the backseat of the car watching that guy; watching me. i remembered his hurt and his pain and everything that was going on at that time.

but i didn’t feel it anymore.

instead, i felt pride.

i was proud of who i’ve become.

i was proud that i got through that time in my life.

i was proud that, because of those moments and that time, i fell in love with the church again and in turn, found a whole new level of relationship with jesus.

i saw the flip side of this feeling yesterday as well. a friend of mine had told me that someone at the church she’d been attending made her cry after church. i wanted to check in on her and see what happened, and through a series of texts, i got to the root of the issue.

in a conversation at a membership class, someone in leadership asked her to tell her story about how she became a christian. for those of you a little more traditional than me, they asked for her testimony. her story isn’t pretty. it involves a lot of mistakes, relationships that didn’t work, a family member tragically dying, and a multitude of other things. by all accounts, she hasn’t had an easy 27 years on this earth.

because of those mistakes, and because of those hurts, she was embarrassed to tell her story to this guy she didn’t know.

she thought that he’d look down on her, or that he would think she’s less of a person than he was, or that he would judge her.

in one day i got to experience two opposite sides of the same coin. my friend and i had both been through heartbreak. we’d both been through rejection. we’d both made mistakes.

and on top of that, we’d both found jesus in the mess of our lives.

there was one difference in the two stories: she was still looking at her story through the lenses of someone who was broken, messed up, and couldn’t get things right.

while i know all three of those things are true for me to this very day, i now know they don’t define me. while i am broken, and i am messed up, and while i do rarely get things right, i know that ultimately i’m forgiven, i’m set apart, and i’ve been given freedom from that hurt, that pain, and all of those things that were going on at that time.

those things, along with jesus being beside me the entire way, made me who i am today.

those things, along with jesus being beside you the entire way, made you into who you are today.

as you look back at the past year, or the past five years, or the past twenty years and you see that pain, that hurt, and all of those things that were going on during that time, are you embarrassed by what you were or are you proud of who you’ve become?

there’s a verse in the bible that says that if i’m going to be proud of anything, i’m going to be proud of the cross of jesus because it’s only through what he did there that i’m free to be anything today.

are you embarrassed by what you were or proud of who you’ve become?

i know you have scars, and i know that at one point in time your nose was bloodied by life kicking you in the face, but you aren’t that person anymore. you aren’t that mistake. you aren’t that hurt.

you, random person on the internet reading this, have been freed from all of that. the only catch is that you have to embrace that freedom.

when you look back on reading this post next week, will you be embarrassed by what you were or proud of who you’ve become?

it’s your choice.

say your prayers and take your vitamins.

have a nice day.