As I watched Todd Bridges on the Oprah show yesterday, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I immediately started praying, asking God to forgive me of my judgmental ways. You’re probably wondering, “Why the heck would I be asking for forgiveness in regards to Todd Bridges?”
Well, I remember some years back I saw a mug shot of him on TV. Was it on Inside Edition? Oh well, I can’t remember the show right now, but I clearly remember the story being about the demise of child stars. He was one being focused on. I remember looking at his mug shot in horror and disgust. I actually exclaimed, “Ewww! What a loser. He looks a hot mess…like a dirty crackhead.” I actually had a crush on his character Willis through the television back in the day, so some how I felt disappointed on a personal level. Nonetheless, I had my preconceived judgments.
So when I first turned on Oprah and saw him sitting in the seat, I must admit…I had an immediate Celebrity Rehab no-sympathy moment. If any of you have watched that show on VH-1, you probably know what I mean. Of course you have the ones who genuinely want to get clean, but many of them are obstinate and have no desire to get clean and are only there at the advice of their agents and managers because it is a good career move for exposure to be on the show. Hence you’ll see those same people back on again the following season, back off the wagon.
Anyway, I kept watching as he started talking about the period of his childhood during his time on the sitcom, Different Strokes. He chatted a bit about his new book. Then he spoke the words that compelled me to stop folding clothes and give him my undivided attention: “My mother’s boyfriend sexually abused me for years.” I saw the pain in his eyes; the tears as he recounted those years of frequent rape and molestation. His mother was in the audience. The pain in her face…the guilt she had to bear for not seeing the signs. The devastation of Todd’s biological father not believing his story about the abuse. Man oh man, it was too much for me. I cried for about thirty minutes straight. His childhood was stolen. His innocence was lost. He was broken. Confused. Lonely. Feeling hopeless. Yet, he still went to work everyday, with his perfect comedic timing…making the whole world laugh while he was dying inside.
He said that becoming a man was not an automatic delete button for his past. He wanted the pain and the horrible memories to go away. Although the hurt was still there after his high wore off, the drugs (Cocaine, then Crack, then Meth) was the only thing that relieved the pain. After he finished talking about the extensively reckless nature of his adulthood… the drugs (selling and using), sex addiction, violence, pimping, and more; with an exhausted look in her face, Oprah said, “Wow, I don’t know how you made it out of that alive.” He answered simply, “God.” I plan to buy his book today.
The bottom line is this: Everything is not always as it seems. Some things are not so black & white; there are often shades of gray. Let’s be real for a second…
When is the last time you said to yourself, “Why won’t that homeless dude get a job?” -or- “She’s pregnant out of wedlock again?” -or- “Her kids look dirty…she’s trifling.” -or- “Why does she dress like a boy?” -or- WHATEVER uninformed, judgemental things we say!?
Before we draw our own conclusions about someone and their situation, just remind yourself that there are a bunch of shades of gray that could be keeping them bound. We have to be extra careful to pray and show God’s love to people regardless of their circumstance. If they see Christ in us, they may see light at the end of the tunnel. We also must not be self-righteous b/c sin is sin. (John 8:7) You and I each have things in our past that could make a lot of people saw, “Ewww” as well! We are not above anyone and to be quite honest, we are not super-human and can be in anyone’s shoes depending on what circumstances are thrown our way. Some of us are a paycheck away from homelessness. A tragedy away from getting hooked on prescription pain killers. A year away from being diagnosed with a mental illness. So, we should not be prideful but compassionate. Jesus is Lord and He is the way out of despair and the way in to heaven. He is our strength.
Let’s examine our hearts and please God by doing better in this area. I know I will.
*Wednesdays w/ iNDIGO*