Grace, Redemption, and Politics
Everyone has a past, and I am no exception.
During the 2012 GOP primary I brought up a theme that I believed Newt Gingrich had tapped into, a theme that I proposed was responsible for his win in South Carolina.
That theme was redemption.
After Gingrich’s win in South Carolina I laid out my theory of Newt’s redemption theme:
“I think much of Newt’s appeal is that he is on a journey of redemption, and the people want to believe they are as well.” I noted that his conversion, and the broader idea of Americans being able to bounce back, fit the mood of the primary electorate after nearly 4 years of Obama at the helm and the big government “conservatism” of the Bush years that preceded.
Redemption has always been an idea that I hold dear, whether that redemption is spiritual, political, or more general to everyday life circumstances.
This isn’t just because I am a Christian and a conservative, though these are factors.
I have walked a personal path of redemption that has taken years to travel, and which I still deal with on a daily basis.
My story of redemption didn’t start until one night when I went out to the bar and then didn’t have the good sense to call a cab.
The truth of the matter is that my parents divorced shortly after I graduated high school. It tore my life apart and I joined the Army to get away. I drank heavily for years and didn’t execute the best judgement.
The first offense was in 2000, shortly after I got out of the Army. I had to do community service and pay some fines. I did that and then went to Kosovo for two years. Upon my return I was driving to California and got pulled over for speeding. As it turned out, unbeknownst to me, there was a bench warrant for my arrest.
While I was in Kosovo, the outfit I did my community service through was shut down because they had allowed people to buy hours rather than actually do the community service they had been sentenced to. All evidence of completion of my mandated community service was gone. As a result, the judge rescinded my deferred sentence and I served 45 days in jail.
Anyone who has read me over the years will no doubt know that I am a stubborn man. It should come as no surprise that I didn’t learn my lesson the first time through.
I once again got pulled over after having had a few beers one night. This time I was sentenced to work release, level II alcohol training, a mandatory MADD class, and community service along with various fines.
I did the classes, paid the fines, and served the time.
But most importantly, I was reminded that my actions have consequences. Luckily those consequences did not include a funeral for anyone.
Since then I rarely drink, the RedState Gathering being the rare exception. I could make excuses about family strife and relationship issues prior to my marriage, but that doesn’t make my actions any more right.
Through a process of reflection, some counseling, and the help of Christian friends, I cleaned up my act, got married to the love of my life, and now have a beautiful family whom I would literally die for.
My redemption and reconciliation with my family took time and hard work, but now I am an active husband and father and I serve my church in the praise and worship ministry.
No doubt there will be those who will disregard the last 7 years of my life and focus on what I once was rather than what I have managed to become, just as many held Gingrich’s past against him.
I can’t begrudge them for this. I can only accept whatever comes, since I am the only one responsible for the decisions I made.
After all, politics ain’t bean bag.
You may be asking yourself why I decided to write about this. The answer is simpler than you may think.
In politics, which I am actively engaged in through my position as Communication Director of Media Trackers Colorado, disclosure is one of the most important things you can do in order to maintain not only your credibility with others, but also one’s personal integrity.
And while I don’t plan on ever running for an elected office, I felt the need to share my failures, redemption, and reconciliation here, where I took my first steps into politics.
Each year, during Holy Week, I reflect on where I was, where I am, and where the Lord will take me in the future. Due to the grace of a loving God who sent His Son to earth to pay the cost of my sins, I can have hope each year during that time of reflection. Due to the Holy Spirit, I can rest assured that I am not left to to die on the vine, rather I am constantly refined into the man that God intends me to be.