Good, Better, Best… Christine McDonald

It has been a couple of years since I met her at that event, but she still messages me from time to time to let me know she is still in the free world and has not returned to prison. She remains clean and tells me that I sparked hope in her to move beyond her past. She has thanked me repeatedly. She says she looks at her shame differently today and is now full of hope. The most recent message I got from her said, “I know stealing is wrong.” She said she had prostituted herself for money to get high, but had never stolen things before. She considers stealing my book the best criminal action she has ever committed in her life; she has no regrets. When she heard I would be at the event that night, she walked a number of blocks to ensure that she had a chance to meet me in person and to share with me that my journey gave her hope.

I love how a minor infraction isn’t a stumbling block; it is actually the chance for redemption! She stumbled, yet she needed that stumble to take her to a different place. That is why I do what I do. She may never know how her sharing her experience with me helped affirm that I am living my purpose. My journey and my experiences not only empower those in similar situations, but they also help those outside of these situations better understand what their lives can look like. The struggles, the stigmas, the hurts, the pain, the shame, the guilt—they are real. Those who are hurting have to understand this, and those who are on the other side have to see this in order to connect.

Sometimes it is good–better–best. This young woman left the recovery center, yet she came back, and now two years later, she is still clean. They did not judge her for leaving or for using again; they just received her with open arms. This time, it was her time.

I know from experience that getting help is not easy. Facing our demons is not easy. As the gardener pulls weeds from the flower beds, often there are thorns, and they hurt. But the rewards of the lovely flowers in full bloom are worth all the hard work. We have to get through the hurt in order to heal. It takes courage to face our past and the hurts others have inflicted upon us. In the middle of the process, it can get messy and it can be hard, but as we press through, it is so worth the joy that comes in the morning as our Christ has promised us. That joy does come in the morning. He doesn’t tell us which morning; we just have to hold on and believe we are worth the work!

Photo by Andrew Neel on

It takes courage to survive, and it takes courage to heal. We have to make sure we are allowing the hurting to hurt and the healing to happen at its own pace. We can’t force the healing journey on those we serve, those we love, or those we encounter on our path of life. We just have to love them through it. And if they run, we must be there with our arms open wide to receive them when they return. We must be ready to receive them where they are at that new moment, not using the past to dictate a judgment or opinion of the new moment. We never know when it is “their time.”

After all, it is their journey. We just get to play a part, our own agendas side. When we are ready to meet them where they are, God can use us to assist them on that journey and empower them to look beyond their past hurts to find their inner strengths and beauty.

Contact Information:
Christine C. McDonald

“Love your neighbor, all of ’em.” -Christine Clarity McDonald

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