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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Joyce Meyer » Joyce Meyer - Does Your Past Define Your Future?

Joyce Meyer - Does Your Past Define Your Future?

Joyce Meyer - Does Your Past Define Your Future?
TOPICS: Talk It Out, Mistake, Second Chance
Joyce Meyer - Does Your Past Define Your Future?

Ginger Stache: Hi, friends. Welcome to Joyce Meyer's Talk It Out podcast where my friends and I talk about God's word and the real stuff of life and we hold nothing back. I'm Ginger Stache, with Erin Cluley, Jai, and of course, Joyce Meyer. We're all in different stages of life. A young career woman and mom to two sweet kiddos. An accomplished songwriter facing an unexpected new life's journey. A leader, creative, an author with a heart for adventure. And a world-renowned Bible teacher whose personal story has impacted millions. And there's you, because sometimes you just need to talk about life with your girlfriends. So, consider yourself one of us, and let's Talk It Out.

Ginger Stache: Hi, everyone. We are so glad that you are here with us today because we are going to talk about something you need to know, and that, is that, whatever your past has been, it does not define your future. And we all understand that. And we have a wonderful, beautiful guest with us today, Meredith Brock. And we're gonna talk about what you've learned about that important thing in your life. Meredith, thank you. We're so glad to have you here.

Meredith Brock: Well, honestly, it is a privilege, I am humbled and just so excited to sit with friends today.

Ginger Stache: We love adding a new friend to our little group here all the time. And you are the woman. Let me just say.

Erin Cluley: She is.

Jai Williams: You are the woman.

Ginger Stache: You're gonna wanna know, Meredith, because she has a lot going on. And you do it all with grace and style. She is the CEO of Proverbs 31 ministries, which is making such an impact in the lives of women everywhere. And you also are a wife, and a mom, and a foster parent. And I just, I love all that, bringing all that together. And the fact that many people will, of course, know of Proverbs 31 ministry and just understand what you all do and appreciate it so much. And then, also, your husband is known quite a bit too: Matt Brock.

Meredith Brock: Yep.

Ginger Stache: So, we'll just throw out all those names that...

Ginger Stache: Pull this all together. So, it's great to talk to you because you have a lot going on.

Meredith Brock: Well, thank you. And I, honestly, I'm just really humbled and feel very privileged to be here, today. It's a full circle moment for me.

Ginger Stache: Well, when you know your story and when you see what God has been doing in your life, even through the years, before we get to see who Meredith is today, those things that God was connecting, the puzzle pieces he was putting together that have brought you to this point, I just think is so beautiful and so amazing. So, we wanna let everybody know a little bit about your past so that we can all understand the fact that our past is not a stumbling block, once God gets a hold of it. So, tell us a little bit about what your situation was growing up.

Meredith Brock: Yeah, of course. Well, I think most of our history start with our parents, right? They have such a huge influence on us. And I was born into a family. My mom came from a home that was very complicated. We'll call it that. Her mom was a prostitute, and her dad was an alcoholic. And they were involved in all kinds of, we'll call them, illegal activities, which led for a really tumultuous life for my mom. And by the time she was 17-years-old, she decided she no longer wanted to live. The things that she had seen and experienced were awful, honestly. And so, by the time she turned 17, she was living in Alaska, at the time, 'cause her mom had to run away from some things that she had gotten in trouble with. And she ended up walking through a mall in Alaska, had made the decision that she was gonna take her own life and that she just wanted to pick out the outfit that they would find her body in. And so, she was walking through the mall and a group of college students walked up to her and said, "Do you know where you would go if you died today"?

Ladies: Wow.

Meredith Brock: And my mom didn't. She didn't know where she would go. And so, she decided, you know, "I might should figure out the answer to that question before I proceed with my plans". And they shared the gospel with her. She became a believer. Not too long after that, she met my father, who also came from a really broken home, military family that there was a divorce and then a remarry and a separation. And his new father kicked him out at the age of 16. And my dad also got involved in some illegal activities. And they met and my mom shared the gospel with him, and they both became believers. And old habits die hard. And my mom got pregnant, but they wanted to do it right. They really wanted to start their family in a way that they were learning what it meant to look like to be Jesus followers. And so, they tried to go to church, but one thing led to the next. Neither one of them ever graduated from high school. I think my mom, as far as I know, I think my mom has about an eighth-grade education, from what I've been told. So, the best job she could get was cleaning houses. My dad was doing, floor covering, laying carpet and tile and things like that. Doing the best they could to pay the bills and take care of their growing family. One thing led to the next, and there's five children on, that they're trying to feed and take care of. And after 17 years of being married, well, 20 years of being married, my dad openly cheated on my mom for 17 years. All of us kids knew about it. He was starting to, the only way he had learned to really be able to feed all those mouths was engaging in illegal activity as well. And so, I remember, as a kid, thinking to myself, they would occasionally bring us to church. And I remember thinking, "If this is how this is working out for y'all, I think I'm gonna pass. I'm gonna find another route," you know. And so, I real quickly, I don't, you know, maybe it's 'cause I watched too much pbs kids. But somewhere along the lines, I decided that if I could just get an education, I could get out. You know. And so, I started leaning, I mean, from the time I was little bitty, y'all like, kindergarten, first grade, I was like, "I'ma get straight A's 'cause I'm gonna get that thing called a scholarship, and I'm gonna go to college".

Ginger Stache: Whatever that thing is I want it.

Meredith Brock: You know, I just knew that, you know, nobody in my family, all my siblings above me, nobody graduated from, even, high school, nobody had ever gone to college. And so, to me, my education was my Savior. I was gonna run hard after that so I could get out of this situation. You know, and so, I threw myself into school. My mom never in her life asked me if I did my homework. That was, 'cause she had too much going on. I was totally self-motivated to try to get to this point where I could get this thing called a scholarship. And I did really well, to be quite honest. I, you know, like I said, it was kinda my, it was my God, it was my Savior. But, you know, my mom ended up, there's lots of, you know, how it is, our histories, they're very tangled in the path that they take. But my mom, and after my dad had been cheating on her for 17 of the 20 years, finally decided, "I can't do this anymore. Like, we're gonna, we have to separate. I'm gonna take the kids and try to make my own life". But before my dad, my dad was actually in jail at the time that she filed for divorce. And before my dad even ever got out of jail, my mom met another man. And my dad, my biological dad, y'all, he's the sweetest man. He's just addicted, you know? And I think we probably all know folks like that. I never felt threatened by my dad. I never felt afraid in the presence of my father. Honestly, when he would drink too much, he became the life of the party, and everybody loved him, you know. I have story upon stories of him passing out on the couch and us raiding his pockets, y'all...

Meredith Brock: And taking all the change and money that we could. But when my mom met my stepdad, that was a very different story. He would drink and get very violent and very angry, and,

Ginger Stache: And how old were you at this time?

Meredith Brock: I was in fifth grade.

Erin Cluley: So, you were young.

Meredith Brock: So, I was young when it started. And honestly, I didn't know how to make sense of it, other than to just be afraid, and lean harder into school. Because I'm thinking, "I've got to get out. I have got to get out of this place". And so, he came into the picture. My mom ended up getting pregnant and having another child by him. And he, my dad was always just, like I said, kind of like the friendly drunk, that you would say. But he introduced a lot of very different drugs into our home that were a lot more dramatic and created a lot more fear in my life than anything I had ever experienced. One thing led to the next, and we lost our home. We ended up being, literally, homeless, for a period of about seven months. Then we moved into a little trailer with no running water and no electricity. All the while, y'all, I'm finding ways to go to school and pretend like everything is okay. "I'm fine". Put on a, put on a happy face, you know?

Ginger Stache: So, no one at school, no one around you, knew what was going on.

Meredith Brock: I think there had to have been suspicions. You know, my mom prepared us very well for, you know, it wasn't unusual for dss, department of social services to show up at our house. And my mom had prepared us with a script. We knew what we needed to say. We,i knew, I mean, it was like a family mantra, which I know so many women live with this of: hide, cover it up, pretend like everything's okay. And I just learned to put that mask on, you know, like a professional, from the time I was just itty bitty, you know? And so, you know, my mom was with my stepdad for quite some time. And the police were at our house often because of the violence that happened there. And by the time I got to be, and I'm just trying to pretend like everything is okay, we're moving from house to house, getting evicted after evicted. We end up in this little trailer in, I grew up in Idaho and there's, in Boise. And there's a little suburb of Boise called garden city that the locals actually called garbage city, you know. And we ended up in that trailer with no running water and no electricity. And I was just like, "Where has my life gone," you know?

Ginger Stache: Yeah.

Meredith Brock: And after a few months of living in that trailer, my mom finally decided to divorce my stepdad, at that point. And I felt like, "Oh, my gosh, okay, we're gonna get back up on our feet. We're gonna be okay". And so, she ended up getting this little, tiny, little apartment, y'all. I mean, it was a living room, a,like, a kitchenette that served as a hallway to the bedroom where me, my mom, my little brother, my little sister, my older sister, who was pregnant, and her boyfriend all lived. I mean, y'all, we had it stacked in deep into that little apartment. But it's so wild to look back on and say that was probably some of the happiest years of my life. Because for the first time, my physical needs were really being taken care of. I didn't have to worry about where my next meal was coming from. The electricity was always on, the water was always on, and my family was there. I was with them, you know.

Ginger Stache: Did you finally feel safe at that time, also?

Meredith Brock: I did. I mean, I think that was the first time because, I never felt afraid of my biological dad. But there was always a fear of, "The bottom's gonna fall out, the bottom's gonna fall out. Dad's gonna get arrested again". You know, like that fear was gone. And then the fear of the violence of my stepdad was gone. And so, I did feel safe. And that is where, honestly, the unraveling began, because, and I so didn't see it coming. But I, for so long, was in survival mode. You know, I was just,all I was trying to do was physically survive my childhood. And when my physical needs were finally met, all those emotional needs that I had been shovin' down, shovin' down, shovin' down, put on the happy face, started to surface. And so, my natural instinct was, and at this point, I'm about in high school. It's like, my sophomore year in high school when my physical needs started to finally get met. I was like, "Well, I'll just do better in school," you know, "'cause that'll make me feel better". I just, you know, like, "Let's..." at that point, I was like, captain of the cheerleading squad. I was like, president of the key club. I was like, every club and any club I could do, I was doin' it.

Erin Cluley: You were getting scholarships.

Meredith Brock: Oh, yes, ma'am, I was. Because I felt like that might make me feel better. You know, and numb the pain a little bit. And it didn't, you know, it only made it feel worse. I wanted my teachers to love me, and when they did, it was still not enough.

Ginger Stache: So, you were looking for value, too.

Meredith Brock: Any kind of value, love, acceptance, belonging, you know.

Ginger Stache: Sure, yeah.

Meredith Brock: And so, then, naturally, I was like, "Well, I think boys will probably make me..." like, if I can just lean into that, "These boys kind of think I'm cute, so that'll make me feel better, right"? And so, then, I launched into my, we'll call it a dating career where I really did think that if I could just get a man to love me, then that pain, that ache would go away. When it, honestly, ended up making it so much worse. I ended up getting in a relationship with a guy, and stumbled upon him and my best friend. And the level of betrayal that I felt and heartache, in that moment, was beyond what I had felt when I was afraid before, you know. And so, then, the pain was just too excruciating for me. And so, I did what was closest, and what was taught in my family, and that is to do drugs. And so,because then, at least, I could just numb out, right? Just don't feel anything. You know, and so, it, at this point, it was my senior year in high school, at that point, where I started experimenting with drugs and trying to figure out, it was actually, the summer before my senior year in high school. And I got myself in a really bad situation. Went to a party, took some drugs that I shouldn't have. It was not intentional, but I nearly lost my life because of some things that I decided to take. And I remembered waking up the next day very afraid of where my life had led, and realized, "Wow, I worked so hard to not be like them. And here I am. I'm 17, just like my mom was 17".

Ginger Stache: Oh, wow.

Meredith Brock: And ready to just be done. Ready to just be done. And it wasn't but a few weeks later, a girl, named emily bankhead invited me to this thing called young life. And I went and I'd heard all the messages before, you know, 'cause I went to church. But I was in such a desperate place, I was longing for anything that would make the heartache go away. But I was like, "Okay, I'll try it". But I'm kinda stubborn. And so, I was like, "But I'm not telling anybody because I'm not gonna be manipulated by a person and all the sudden start thinking that God's speaking to me, when it's really that person is making me feel good," you know?

Meredith Brock: And so, I, literally, was like, "All right, God, I'm not telling anybody, but I'll do what you say. I'm gonna read my Bible every day. But I'm gonna do it late at night and I'm not telling anyone".

Jai Williams: So, no one can see.

Meredith Brock: Nobody, because I was like, "Because if you're real, I'll know, and it'll be me and you". And so, I did. Y'all, my senior year in high school, I started reading my Bible by myself late at night. I started journaling 'cause that's what this whole group of people told me I should do. And so, I started...

Ginger Stache: But you did it secretly.

Meredith Brock: I did it. 'Cause I wasn't gonna tell anybody. No, they did not know because I wanted to know that it was God. And that it wasn't a man manipulating me or any of the manmade systems. And so, slowly, over time, just like only the holy spirit can do, my heart started to breathe again, and I started to know, for the first time, in my life, that I was truly loved. That I wasn't alone.

Ginger Stache: Wow.

Meredith Brock: That I didn't need to fear my future. And so, yeah, I accepted Jesus, my senior year in high school. And ended up wild, super wild story y'all. Like, only God, my young life leaders, everybody in town in Boise knew that my family was the provider of illegal substances. And so, I think my young life leaders knew and they knew they needed to get me out of town. I had gotten, I had worked so hard, and I had gotten scholarships, and I was like, ready. I was ready to go to college. And I ended up graduating from high school when I was, a year early. I was 17 when I graduated. But they convinced me, I've always been a little bit of an adventurer. And so, they were like, "Hey, we got,you can go work at this camp in Canada for a month. We'll pay for you to get there. It's really amazing. It's like, all..." and I was like, "Sure, I can do that. Great. That gives me enough time after I graduate. Go do that, come back to Idaho, get ready for college, we'll be good". And I ended up going up to this young life camp and the Lord just completely changed my life. The whole trajectory of my entire life changed, at that point. I met a couple named, Caleb and Tracy Richardson at that camp. And they,at the end of the month approached me and said, "Hey, this is gonna sound crazy, but we really feel like the Lord is telling us that you should come hang out with us in Alaska for the rest of the summer. And we just wanna spend time with you and get to know you". And I was like, "Well..." and once again, I've always been a little bit of an adventurer. So, I was like, "Well, I think I can do that 'cause if I can just go up there for a little bit and then I'll go back to Idaho, get my scholarships and like move on," you know, right, and then like, start my life. And so, I went up to Alaska, and the Lord just gripped my heart, and I realized that I didn't, no job was going to give me the purpose that my heart longed for. And so, while I was there, I had never, ever told anyone, because my mom had taught me, "Don't tell anybody," what had happened to me as a child. And so, for the first time, in my life, I sat with them, and they asked me questions and we drove all around Alaska backpacking and doing all kinds of crazy things. And I would tell my stories, and I would just cry, and they would listen, and they would point me back to the word of God.

Ginger Stache: What a gift.

Meredith Brock: Really and truly.

Ginger Stache: Yeah.

Meredith Brock: And so, that, after a few months of being there, I realized I didn't, as scary as it was, I felt like the Lord was saying, "Are you willing to give up your scholarships"?

Ginger Stache: Wow, that thing that you had worked for since you were so small.

Meredith Brock: Yeah, yeah. And it was really scary for me.

Ginger Stache: Yeah, it would be.

Meredith Brock: Really scary. But they had taught me, and really spending time in God's word had taught me, that if I really and truly surrender to him, you know, he makes that promise: "I have a hope and a future for you," you know. And I can't embrace his hope and his future for me, if I'm still holding on to the picture that I had of my own, you know. And so, I cried, and said, "I think I need to let go of my scholarships, and I think I need to live here for a while and let my heart heal and learn how to do this, Jesus life," that they, that I saw them living that I had never seen before. And so, I gave up my scholarships and I ended up staying with them in Alaska. And y'all, they taught me everything from how to, I didn't even know how to open a bank account because y'all, when you're doing the illegal things, you don't use a bank account. You're only dealing with the dollar bills! And so, I had to learn how to do that kind of stuff, that just regular people stuff. You know, I had to, for the first time in my life, I saw a marriage that was healthy and whole. And they would let me sit in, and watch 'em argue. I'd never even seen a healthy argument before. You know, and that, I think, is,that season in my life is where my heart was really gripped for foster care. I may have been 17, but I was their foster child.

Ginger Stache: Seeds were planted there.

Meredith Brock: Seeds were planted.

Ginger Stache: It would make a big difference...

Meredith Brock: Yeah.

Ginger Stache: For people beyond you, you know?

Meredith Brock: I certainly didn't know at the time, but I think those seeds were planted then. And fast forward, I ended up going to Bible college in a little town called, Columbia, south carolina. And that's where I met mack. And, you know, once again, I didn't even, at the time, think, and this is why it becomes full circle for me. When I lived with Caleb and Tracy in Alaska, they, man, they were so intentional about discipling me, and making sure that I really understood what the word of God said, but I also knew how to live it out. Not, you know, it's so easy to know what it says, but not really live it. And there were a lot of things that I had told myself growing up that were not true, you know, like, "Don't tell anyone". That was such a lie that I held on to, but it became such a script in my life. And another one I really, really held on to was, "You're not good enough. You never will be". You know, like, "You'll never be good enough, you'll never fit in". And I'll try not to get choked up, at this point, but one of the books that they gave me, while I was living in their home was "A battlefield of the mind", your mind is a battlefield..." and it completely, I had never heard anything like that before. You know, I had never heard to really take captive your thoughts, to replace it with truth. And I remember when I met mack, I had read that book. Y'all, I wish,i should have brought it. It's like dog-eared. I've passed on so many copies to so many girls in my life. But when I met mack, I just thought, this is too good to be true. And I remember Tracy saying to me, "Don't you believe those lies". You know, "You stand in front of that lie, and you tell it the truth, that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, that God has a hope and a future for you". And so, it's really special for me today, to be able to be here and to know, I would have never thought, you know, here I am a 41-year-old woman, having lived a really wild life. But looking back at my 17-year-old self, who'd just came to know Jesus and reading that book and being able to say, "Wow, here I am sitting at her ministry, being able to share my story".

Ginger Stache: It is so beautiful the way God does these things and puts them together for us. And even the fact that you had so many choices to make. When God began speaking to you about giving up that scholarship, that was, as you said, "Your Savior," it's what you were looking for to get you out of this situation. And yet, you were able to be obedient. I mean, so many people wouldn't be able to get past that. You know, because what has been so important to you in the past, and the way that you saw life, the way things looked to you, everything that we do is shaped by our past. And so, for God to be able to get through all that, and get through all those layers and all those lies, truly, it's astounding. So, we have a lot more to talk about how all of this works for all of us, really, for everyone, and more with Meredith's story. But right now, we're gonna check in with what God's word says, and what joyce is sharing right now, about the past being a magnet and how to reverse that pull.

Joyce Meyer: The past is like a magnet, it keeps trying to draw us back. Do you ever feel like you're, the enemy is trying to draw you back into old habits, amen? Not only do you have to press out of bad things, you gotta press into good things. We'll take peace as an example. I grew up in an atmosphere where there was no peace. To be honest, and I'm not exaggerating, I didn't even know what peace was until I married dave. Everybody in my family was dysfunctional. We didn't know that word back then but they were dysfunctional. Very dysfunctional.

And of course, my father was abusing me. My mother knew it, was too frightened to do anything about it. My brother went in the marines when he was 17, and he came out addicted to drugs, and ultimately, ended up ending his own life because he just was so miserable and couldn't seem to get free. And he was a guy that wouldn't press. He wouldn't press through things. He wanted everybody to do everything for him. We took him into our home for, he lived with us, I think about four years one time. And as long as you said, "Get up and go to work," he'd get up and go to work, but if you didn't wake him up he'd lay there and not go to work. And you can't,you gotta do stuff for yourself. Don't even always be calling everybody asking them where a certain scripture is, look it up. Do the work. If you do the work then you'll remember where things are. So, you're never gonna have the future that God wants you to have if you think that all you gotta do is just pray for it, and it's just gonna fall in your lap. Some of you have got some amazing things out in front of you. But I can tell you, the greater that God wants to use you, the more the enemy will come against you.

Ginger Stache: I think that's why "Battlefield of the mind" was so important in your situation, because if we don't do what the Bible says, if we don't renew our mind and replace those lies and those thoughts with the truth of God's word, we do keep just swinging right back to what we know, to what we've seen, even though it was terrible. And did you ever feel like, "This is my destiny"? Like, "This has been my, this has been my family's past. This is where I'll end up, too".

Meredith Brock: Yeah. I mean, my goodness, absolutely. That's what I think propelled me when I, at 17, when I woke up that morning. The reality sat on me that, "Oh, my gosh, I'm gonna be just like them". But I think there's this moment that you have that you can either say, "Okay, well, this is it for me". And give up and acquiesce to what Joyce just said, the magnetic pull of your past. Or you can say, "No, I'm not giving up". Like, "I'm not gonna let this..." and you seek out people or things that are different from you, and that's when God showed up for me. And I could have, at that point, just shrugged it off. Y'all, I could have just said, "No, whatever. I've heard this stuff before. It's lies". But I just, I just wasn't willing to give up and let my past dictate my future. And so, I took that really scary, like, moment of saying, "Okay, I'm gonna try this. I'm not gonna tell anybody else that I'm trying it," you know.

Ginger Stache: Which, I love that. I really do. I love the independence of that. You know, "I'm gonna do what you say, God, but I'm gonna do it quietly".

Meredith Brock: I just needed the assurance that it was him. You know, and I think it's 'cause I had been hurt by so many people.

Ginger Stache: It makes sense.

Meredith Brock: And people were so untrustworthy to me that I needed to know that it was me and him and nobody else. And, you know, "Battlefield of the mind" was a huge influence on me that gave me the practical tools to do it. Like, nobody really teaches you how to do that. You know, how to stand firm on the truth and say, "No," to the lies. You know, acknowledge, those lies are there, and they're there because you've had many years of scripts woven into you. And that magnetic pull is so strong, you know? But you have to believe, if you really believe God's word, you have to grab hold of those truths and live it.

Erin Cluley: What was that moment like when you had to decide which way you were gonna go? When you chose to, "No, I'm not gonna be my past, I'm gonna, let's see, let's try something else, what was that moment like where you ended up deciding to not go that way"?

Meredith Brock: Oh, my goodness. I mean, it was, for lack of a better term,and there's been many of these since then. It's never just one moment.

Erin Cluley: Yeah, yeah.

Meredith Brock: Very visceral for me. I mean, just tears and tears. For those of you who come from, this is like a counseling term, but a parentified home, meaning, I was a parent to my parents. I took care of. I was very much a parent to my siblings. I took care of everyone. The amount of guilt that I felt was tremendous. Because I felt like, "I was abandoning them. I was abandoning them. I was leaving them. What was gonna happen if I wasn't there to save my younger siblings"? But I had to. And a mentor of mine said this later in my life, that "God is a very, is a better leader than we are a follower. And if he ever breaks a promise one time, he can't be God anymore". He can't be God. He loses the cred, guys! And so, for me to really say, "Okay, God". And I know, in his word, he says he loves my siblings just as much as he loves me. He loves my mom just as much as he loves me. And through tears and fighting, it didn't feel good. None of it felt good. It felt awful. I felt like it, I felt,it felt like a death to leave my scholarships, to leave my family, and cling to God's word, that feels like, "I think this is true. I mean, I'm pretty sure, but I'm not 100% sure". And then, to live with this family that, "Do they really love me? I don't know. I'm not biologically their child," felt so afraid. But if I knew, if I held on to that promise, "If God ever breaks a promise, he can't be God anywhere". That's a big risk for him to take.

Jai Williams: Yeah, it's not an easy journey and it comes with a lot of tears. It comes with a lot of, I'm sure, at times, you probably felt lonely because these are people that you're not related to, you're in a whole new place. And it's definitely not the plan that you had for yourself, so.

Meredith Brock: Yeah.

Jai Williams: Like, how was that even like navigating through the fact that like, because people that go through things like that, 'cause I'm pretty similar to that too. Like, and I start making a plan, and when I get that plan, I think it's from God. So, then, I'm stuck to it. It's like, you know, I'm stuck.

Erin Cluley: Whether he wrote it or not.

Jai Williams: I'ma say God did it. I'm gonna say, "This is me and God. We did this together". But how does it, how was it to like let go of that? Like, to let go of that plan that was supposed to be the plan, like you,the Savior plan, to get you out of what you were, like, how was that?

Meredith Brock: It was terrifying. I mean, it was terrifying. "Was I really gonna trust this God that I couldn't see"? You know, "This book that was so old and crusty". You know, like, "Was I really gonna trust it"? But I think, I had just hit this place of like, "Well, if I don't try this, if I don't do this, I could,I've already seen where my actions take me. I already see where my choices take me, you know. And they take me to a place where I'm waking up in a bed, terrified, you know, that..." I mean, y'all, I should genuinely be another statistic. I should be on my third or fourth marriage with, who knows, how many kids, livin' off of welfare. I mean, that is where I should be. But if it was not for the act of the holy spirit working in my life. And you know, you speak about the path of least resistance, I think that's our,that's our sin nature. That's what we all want, right? We wanna,it, our life to be handed to us on a silver platter and we just live it out or whatever. But if you look at scripture that doesn't align, it does not. Every, single person in, you can study, in scripture, from Paul to Peter, to every, single one of 'em, you know, Moses, Noah, Esther, Ruth, all of 'em, you see there's this moment where God gives them an assignment and they have a choice to choose the path of least resistance or choose, by faith, his assignment for them.

Ginger Stache: Yeah, for some reason, we think those people in the Bible, "It was easy. They're in Bible, you know. So, obviously, they were gonna make that choice".

Jai Williams: They made the cut in the crusty book.

Ginger Stache: Right, yes! But it's, you know, they were making tough choices just like all of us are.

Meredith Brock: And they're our blueprint. They're our blueprint for what we can expect and how we can expect God to move in our lives, you know. And so, when you come to those moments of decision, which we all do. You know, whether it's a decision to let go of a scholarship, or a decision to take a new job, or a decision to start a family or not start a family: each one of those moments is a moment for us to lean in with our Savior and say, "God, what is it that you have for me, here"? And choose his assignment for you. And most of the time it's gonna look like the path of most resistance.

Ginger Stache: You know, I too, I just think there are a lot of our friends who are with us, right now, who are at that point of making a choice. And, you know, like you asked the question for them right now is: are you going to allow your past to dictate your future or are you going to make different choices? Are, and what you were talking about with the guilt makes so much sense. That false guilt that Satan will put on us saying, "You're going to abandon these people," but if you don't have anything to give them yet, then, you know, God needs to build us up, before we can build others up. And so, I just think there are so many people listening, right now, who are connecting to a lot of the things that you're saying and asking the question, "What's the first step"? You know, "How do I begin this journey on my own"? What would you tell them?

Meredith Brock: Well, honestly, you have got to,no matter what scenario you are in, you have to get the truth perspective. If that makes sense? It's because our pasts have such a magnetic pull, they become the glasses we see everything through. And you need somebody, in your life, to reach over and take the glasses off for you, and say, "Sweetie, you haven't been seein', you haven't been seein' clearly". And that was Caleb and Tracy, for me. They took the glasses off. They gave me things in my, put things in my life to say, "Here's what you should, here's some stuff you can read". You know, I had, believe it,i had to read the book. And I couldn't just take the book and say, "Thank you". So, I mean, it's things like getting people in your life that will help take the glasses off of your past. You know, it's doing the hard work of reading the books, of listening to the podcasts. My goodness, what a resource this podcast is to help take the glasses off, and see, "Okay, this is truth. This is the truth of God's word. These are the hard choices that I need to make in order to not let that past become my future".

Erin Cluley: I just keep hearing,like, as you're saying, all that, which you both are sharing, like, the word: clarity and perspective. Because I can only imagine the chaos that was in your mind clouding you, your judgment...

Meredith Brock: Oh, my.

Erin Cluley: Your decisions, everything, because of experiences. I can only imagine. But to like, to pause the noise, almost, like, to just step away from all that's in your mind. Which is why it's all in your mind. But to have that clear perspective that you can only get through God. Like, the only way you can have any clarity in any situation, from anything around you, is to step aside from everything that, that is, and just seek that real true clarity that,from him.

Meredith Brock: Well, and I would say,i think this, a helpful thing, and this is a joke, and also, maybe, I don't know, a helpful thing for some. But y'all, he had to take me to Alaska. And I make a joke about that. But I had to get some separation.

Erin Cluley: Yeah, that makes sense.

Meredith Brock: Because when I was in my home, surrounded by the voices that had been with me through my whole childhood, who had told me, and my mom wasn't telling me those things because she was trying to be mean. She didn't tell me to keep secrets because she was trying to be mean. She was trying to protect me. But she didn't know what it would,what the script it would build, the narrative it would build in my mind. And so, I really needed to get some physical separation. Now, I know that's not always possible for a lot of people. Maybe you're young: there's lots of reasons why it may not be possible. But I think that was really important for me to get some actual physical distance from the voices that had such a strong pull in my life, so that I could get the clarity that I needed. 'Cause it,i think that was a pretty pivotal piece of the puzzle, now, looking back, at the time, I had no idea that's what God was doing.

Ginger Stache: That's so wise, yeah.

Meredith Brock: But it was very much the Lord's intention, to get some space.

Ginger Stache: We're gonna go back to joyce and hear what she says the word of God says about this because talking about the past, being that magnet that pulls you back, it's so easy to get stuck in a point in your life where you just kind of stay a child. You never develop. You will physically, but you won't spiritually, you won't emotionally. So, let's see what joyce has to say about how God's word helps make that education, that growing up process, work.

Joyce: The spiritually mature do not waste their time and God's feeling guilty over every mistake that they make. In Philippians 3:15 and 16, right after all the things that Paul had to say about, "I press on," "Letting go of what lies behind," he said, "Now let those of us who are mature think this way". Wow. When I saw that, I thought, "So, mature people, really spiritually mature people, don't wallow around in guilt and condemnation day, after day, after day. The spiritually mature are quick to repent, and quick to let go, and return to enjoying their life. Come on. That's what real spiritual maturity is. It's baby Christianity to not do that.

And the answer is found in Hebrews 5:12 through chapter 6, verse 3. "For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you still need somebody to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food". So, he's talking, here, about the baby stage of Christianity. And he's saying, "I can't give you the meat of the word. I still have to give you milk," or what I call, "Dessert messages". You know, as long as you're telling people how much God loves 'em and about all the miracles that God wants to do in their life and how he wants to bless 'em, everybody just eats that up. That's not hard to digest. But when you get around to saying, "It's time for change. It's time to grow up. It's time to forget about yourself and start thinking about what you can do for other people. It's time to stop getting depressed every time things don't go your way. It's time to cut off all the pity parties".

Now, when you start talking like that, people aren't gonna hang around if they're still just wanting a pacifier and a baby bottle. So, you're obviously ready for meat because you still came back. We lost a few this afternoon, but you still came back. Amen? And you'll grow. Meat will make you grow. The meat of God's word helps us grow. And I don't know about you, but I've had enough fluff.

Ginger Stache: I think we all get tired of the fluff. You know, even when you were talking about, you'd been in church and I'm sure you heard good stuff, but what you were seeing was a totally different evidence of what that life really means.

Meredith Brock: Yeah.

Ginger Stache: And so, we can have a whole lot of fluff in our life. We can have a whole lot of talk about God and not know who God is. Or even in our own life that, "Yeah, you know, I believe". But until we dig into who God is, what he says about who I am, and how to take the truth and change the way that we think about ourself, the way that we think about our future, which is huge. I don't think we can ever develop spiritually the way that God wants us to, if we just get stay, stuck in that surfacy life. That is so easy for all of us to like, dabble. "This is enough. I'm okay". And then, before we know it, something has fallen out from underneath us, and we've slid down a path that we never wanted to go down. But it just, sometimes, makes sense because of everything that's been going on around us. We need the real stuff, I guess, is what I'm saying. We gotta dig in.

Jai Williams: A 100%. Like, while you were just talking, and after that last clip, I just was thinking about how I was leading, I used to lead worship all the time. I was a whole worship pastor. That was my thing. And I was living that, like, really squeaky-clean Christian life. I was trying to check all the boxes. Because I, too, am like, a box checker. And I share all that to say, I was reluctant, but I recently just led worship at the church where I used to lead. And it was also where I found out about my husband's infidelity. And so, it was very triggering. And so, a part of me because of my past now, my very recent past, I didn't feel necessarily even qualified to lead. I was nervous about it. It was very triggering, of course, too. But I was also, like, "What do I..." and I've gone through so many hurdles of unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, wanting to hurt somebody. You know, like, it was just a lot of different emotions that I, I think before, I wouldn't have even,i would have been very judgmental to someone leading worship with those things that they've overcome. But I think about the level of maturity that I've gone through. Like, going through this process and actually being able to lead from a place from, "Yeah, I messed up a lot in that season of being so angry and so frustrated," and God's healed me so much. But like, leading from that place of the reconciliation of my relationship with God, it wasn't as daunting as I thought it was going to be. Like, it was a very freeing place to, like, worship in that space of not letting the past decide and define, that I would never, because I was like, "I'll never do that again. Like, I'll never lead like that again because I don't want to, like, I'm done with that".

Ginger Stache: But you had to have come at it from a deeper level now, than you ever could have before.

Jai Williams: It was so much deeper. Like, it was completely different than anything I'd ever experienced before. It was so much more pure. Like, it was more real because, like, I've literally gone through the fire and God's seen me through it. Like, the anointing was stronger. I felt so unqualified. Like, you know, it's like, "I'm divorced, I'm this, I've done..." you know. But like, seriously, the power of God was so strong, and it was, I don't know, it was just a different experience. But that was just one of those very recent things of not letting my past and what happened to me, define if I was going to, you know, actually do it again.

Erin Cluley: You know, what I love in both of what you guys have shared, is what I see so clearly, is just the beauty of God's love for us. Because he didn't give you meat before you were ready. Like, he said, "Here, I'm gonna..." like, one conversation at a time. "Here's just a little something to get you to remember my name. And I'm gonna..." then, they're gonna give you a book. Not 20 books of encyclopedias, "Now, go be a Christian. Good luck". It was, "Here's a book from a lady who has had a hard past too," to get you comfortable. And for you, he didn't ask you to go worship two years ago, right after it happened. He said, "It's okay for you to go away from it, because I love you. It wasn't time yet". But now, he's ready to give you more meat because you're in a new place. And, like, all I see is his love in all of these situations. Because (emotional) you're his daughters. And he's so proud of you. But he's only gonna give it to you when he knows you're ready, you know, not when the world says you're ready.

Jai Williams: So powerful.

Meredith Brock: And it's so evident in scripture when we look at, you know, if we're supposed to emulate Jesus' life, I mean, he was crushed, you know, he was, and that was his assignment. His assignment was to be crushed.

Erin Cluley: That's terrible.

Ginger Stache: And he chose it.

Meredith Brock: And he chose it. He said, "Yes," to the assignment. But we benefit from it. Y'all, and like what a, I look at my life now, and I pray every day that I'll leave this earth having been crushed for Jesus for the benefit of others. Because that's what people have done for me, you know. And so, out of your crushing, Jai, he is bringing people to Jesus.

Jai Williams: Yeah.

Meredith Brock: You know, out of my crushing he's bringing, I mean, I would have never, not in my wildest dreams, you guys, would have thought that I would be the CEO of a women's ministry. Like, I didn't even know that existed, my little 17-year-old self, who was just trying to survive, you know? But man, look at what God does from a crushing. That's where we're able, we become able to consume the meat, you know? And he doesn't just have to keep, if you can't handle the crushing, he can't possibly give you the meat of himself.

Ginger Stache: So, right now, so many people are saying, "But I can't handle the crushing". You know, "I can't handle where I am right now".

Meredith Brock: Well, you can't, though.

Ginger Stache: Exactly, exactly. I think of those people who are hurting so much. And they are feeling like their past, whether it was from childhood or from two years ago, is going to determine their future. And that pain that they're feeling, right now, is so strong and so real. And it's so hard to even imagine, it's so hard to even hope, that God could still use you or have something good for you. And yet, I love to say, "Well, let us hope for you," you know?

Meredith Brock: That's so good.

Ginger Stache: Let us believe for you, because we do. We've seen it in our own lives. We know that it's true. And if all of them can just hold on for the time to God, for God to start turning the wheels for them. Time does such amazing things. And it hurts and it's so hard, but if they can just hold out one minute, one day, one week, at a time, until God can start showing them those glimmers of light at the end of the tunnel, those things that do spark hope. Then, they start seeing a train that starts moving a little bit faster down the track. And then, you see Jai leading worship again. And then, you see Meredith's life just touching so many women and having a family that you probably never imagined would be possible.

Meredith Brock: Absolutely.

Ginger Stache: Were you shocked when you look back and then you look at today?

Meredith Brock: I cry about it often just 'cause I, I never would have imagined, not in a million years, would I have thought that this would be my story, with a husband, who I genuinely love and respect and admire so much, and two beautiful biological children, and a beautiful foster son. And I mean, it's just a story that I never could have written myself. As you guys were speaking, I was thinking, I'm gonna mess up this illustration a little bit, but hang with me 'cause I think it might be worth it. But there is, and this is a true process that happens in the crushing of an olive. Is where the first, there's multiple crushing's of an olive, and you get out different oil at different times. And the first crushing of an olive is like the most basic oil that you can get. And I believe it's what they use for some cooking, but like not fine cooking. And then there's like, a second crushing, where it's like, nicer oil, you know. But it's like a little bit more finer. But the final crushing of an olive, which is when it is crushed all the way, is the oil that they use in lamps to burn a light. Like, how beautiful is that? And that's not by accident. Our God is so intentional. He's so intentional with everything. And I just couldn't help but think, Jai, as you were talking and sharing just what you have gone through, you know, sounds like the final crushing. And he's lighting a light for you. And you will be a light for so many others because you allowed him to crush you and refine you and create perseverance in you, which creates character, right? Just like what it says in James. And he's doing in that, in your life, right now.

Jai Williams: Yeah, well, thank you. And another thing that I was thinking about, like, you know, those people that are out there, that are really going through it, you know, and because mine is so recent, I want to be over it, you know. I just wanna be, I just wanna, "Just smash me, Lord. Just be done". Like, you know? Like, but I know there's still gonna be more refining that's coming along the way, you know. But for those that are struggling with things because of the past or, because a lot of the things that happened in the divorce and the betrayal brought up other things from the past, you know, like that I had talked about at the very beginning of this podcast. I'm like, "I thought I was over that". But like, I wanna let people know that it's okay to, like, not want to be crushed anymore. That doesn't mean you're not going to be, you know. But like, I think about with Jesus, that's what gave me a lot of hope over these past few years of going through this, is just looking at even though Jesus chose to be crushed for our sake, he still, when it got really tough, he's like, "I really don't wanna die for real". Like, you know, "Can we do something else"? So, I think it would help to free some people, because it helped free me, to know that even our Savior who chose a crushing, I didn't choose to go through what I went through, you know. But even that he chose it and still was like, "If you can let this pass, like..."

Meredith Brock: And he's not disappointed in you, when you say, "I don't like this". 'Cause he didn't like it either. You know, and so, to give yourself the grace to say that, but not stay there. To say it, say, "I don't like this crushing, I want it to stop. I want it to be over. But not my will, Lord, yours be done. Yours be done. And give me the strength," to follow through on what his will...

Ginger Stache: That's the key. That really, like you said, it's not in our own strength. None of us are strong enough. None of us. So, we have to call out to him and say, "Lord, help me," if that's the only words you can get out, "Lord, help me". So, we're gonna go back to joyce one final time and we're gonna wrap everything up. But she's gonna share something that might completely change the way you see everything in life.

Joyce Meyer: Isaiah 61 in verse 3, says that God gives us, "The oil of gladness for mourning and the garment of praise instead of a faint or a heavy spirit". Jesus wants us to have, now, I yellowed this in, so this is important, Jesus wants us to have a present expectation of something positive instead of constantly mourning over what we've lost. You can find something to mourn over daily if you want to, it's not that difficult. All you gotta do is sit around and remember all the bad things that have happened to you in your life and forget all the good. You know, everybody in here, you've had more good things happen to you than bad. Everybody, you've had more good things happen to you than bad. We talk about hope, and I was amazed to find out, when I really did a thorough study on hope, that hope is not just, "Well, you know, I hope so". No, Bible hope, and Peter says we've, "Been born again into an ever-living hope". So, guess what? Hope is something you can always have. No matter what kinda problem or circumstance you got, you can always have hope. But it's not just, "Well, I kinda wish God would do something". No, hope is a positive expectation that something good is going to happen to you at any moment. What happens if you start getting up with that expectation? "I can't wait to see what God does today. Boy, I bet today's gonna be good. All things are possible with God. There's no telling what he may do for me because he loves me".

Ginger Stache: There's that Bible hope we were talking about. That hope that makes no sense. That hope that changes everything because without it, it's just emptiness and desperation. And so, if we can just find that one verse, you know, that one little place where God says, "I love you so much that you can't even fathom it," "It's more than the grains of sand". Hold on to one thing that will give you hope and then begin to let God start to work and see what happens. And your past is still there, and it's still is a part of who you are. And yet, God will use it for your good. Just like we're seeing now. Those things that none of us wanted to live through, those things that were crushing and painful, God will bring out of it beauty for ashes. You know, he'll start to do things that will just amaze us. So, I don't know, as you guys were listening to those scriptures, were there any other things that popped out in your mind about how you see hope, or how God wants to open hope up to be so real in people's lives?

Meredith Brock: I was having a conversation with a girlfriend the other day who has been going through it, y'all, just on every side. And she just can't seem to get out of the spin. She's just sad all the time. And we, I remember, a long time ago, I read a book a long time ago about how when you stay in that space, the actual Neuroscience, you begin to create grooves in your brain to gravitate towards back, towards those same negative thoughts. And I remember looking back on that time period of my life where I was choosing hope, you know. Nothing around me looked hopeful, y'all. There was no promise other than these words in the crusty book, and some people who had told me some things that, you know, I didn't, none of it made sense, how this was all gonna work out. And I remember choosing writing,and it was very it was a very weird thing to do at the time, but it was all I could do because, literally, every moment felt like so much was at risk, that I would write scriptures on the inside of my wrist so that when I was driving, I could look at 'em, you know. I would write scriptures and put 'em on my mirror. I would write scriptures and put 'em at my desk. I would, because it was the only, I was choosing,actively choosing to grab hold of the hope of God's word. Hope is not elusive. It's not running away from you. It's right there in that book. And so, just grab hold of it in practical, physical action by writing down those scriptures that remind you of the hope that God promises. And then, you hold him to it. If he ever breaks a promise, he can't be God anymore. So, you just gotta say, "You promised this Lord. You promised a hope and a future for me. You promised good for me". You know, "You promised that you love me. You will provide for me. You will be my comforter. You will be my healer. All of those things you promised. So, you have to do it now. You have to do it now".

Ginger Stache: And the same way those negative thoughts change the way that our brain works, feeding the truth of God's word changes the way that we think, as well.

Erin Cluley: It totally does.

Ginger Stache: It does. And it begins to give you, not only hope, but it begins to train your brain to begin thinking, "There is more for me".

Erin Cluley: I read something, this morning, that God says who he is and that I have hope in my troubles, so, you flip that script. And I love what you're saying. Like, I just picture it again, like enveloping your whole body with hope. Like, whatever you have to do, you put that worship music on, you write it on your body, you write on your mirror, you put it in your shoes. Wherever you can put it, and you walk in that. I think the more you cover yourself...

Ginger Stache: Say it out.

Erin Cluley: Say it out loud. Say it in your mind. Tell everybody you know. Let that be the only thing you say. But, yeah, I think that's so good.

Ginger Stache: Yeah, well, Meredith, would you close us out today just by praying for some of our friends who need hope desperately and who are feeling that magnetic pull of the past, but we know that God has a better future for them?

Meredith Brock: I would love to, thank you. Oh, Jesus. We need you, Lord. We need your hope. We need your love. We need your salvation and healing that you promise. And so, Lord, I pray for my sisters, right now, who might be in the midst of a crushing, who might be fighting the magnetic pull to go back to the past. Lord, I pray that you would give her strength. That you would surround her with the people that she needs to take the lenses off and see your truth. That you would intersect her life with books that speak truth, people that speak truth. And Lord, I pray that you would give her the strength to endure, to persevere through her crushing through the magnetic pull and grab hold of hope, Lord. Speak to her a new word, in this moment, Lord. We're thankful that we can sit among sisters and see the evidence of your goodness, the evidence of your grace. And Lord, remember that you have more of that to come in the future. We love you, Lord. We trust you completely with our lives. We offer these lives up to you for your glory in Jesus' name, amen.
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