“Being able to forgive those I hated has set me free!”
By Mark Anthony Velez – Courtesy of Precious Testimonies
I am humbled by the awesomeness of God. He has placed key people at various stages in my life, which has brought me to this defining moment of victory in Christ Jesus. It has been a tumultuous journey for me, as it is for many, yet I give Jesus all the glory, honor, praise and thanks, because He is God, and He has been truly merciful to me. With that, let me give you some of my past, so you can appreciate what God has done in my life, that He might receive the glory that is truly due Him.
I was born on July 29, 1963 in Pontiac, Michigan. At the time of my birth my parents were divorced, and both were in their own addictions of alcohol, drugs, sex and all that goes with that lifestyle. I am told that moments after my birth, Child Protective Services threatened to take me away from both of my parents, because they were both in active addiction and not willing to seek help to recover.
I am a product of a bi-racial marriage. I was not wanted by either of my parents, nor did my mother’s mother want anything to do with me. As a result of her own prejudice, and because my father’s work schedule would not allow him to raise a child ‘ his mother stepped up and chose to raise me. My Mexican grandma (as I often refer to her as) not only wanted to raise me, she wanted to break the generational curse that plagued her family. The curse went back to my grandfather (her husband) and continued on to reach all of her sons.
Growing up, I lived in a very poor area of Pontiac, on Going Street. It was known as the ghetto. In 1969 my father relocated my grandmother and I to a “better” part of Pontiac, and even though we no longer lived in the ghetto, the atmosphere in the home was horrific. There was a lot of physical, verbal and emotional abuse from my father. Not only did he abuse me, he also abused his own mother. For the most part, my father was an unbearable man.
Despite the chaos, my Mexican grandmother never wavered in her faith. I thank God for the strength he gave her to pray no matter what was going on. As James 5:16 tells us: The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. I can remember my Mexican grandma praying continuously throughout the house for me and the rest of her family, and she prayed her hardest whenever I would leave the house.
My mother did not have a pivotal role in raising me. When she would come around, she was either drunk or high, and she was physically and verbally abusive. God tells us in his Word that: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver (Proverbs 25:11). I longed for the acceptance and approval of both my parents, (as every child does), but what I got in return was beatings, emotionally torn down…ripped apart…shredded… rejected. Maybe you can identify.
Many years of being mistreated chipped away at my heart and hardened my heart with bitterness, low self-esteem, anger, and unrelenting hatred towards all people…not just my parents. I can remember hearing, ‘I hate you!’ from my mother, followed by beating after beating.
I remember seeing the rage in my father’s eyes as he would hit me, hold a gun to my head, send whores into my room, or chase my Mexican grandmother out of the house because she would confront him about his addiction.
Both my parents used alcohol, heroin and PCP. I would watch as they would shoot up or drink, or both, and would nearly overdose. The hurt that was inside me grew like a cancerous tumor and I became dangerous to myself and others around me. I became the collateral damage of my parent’s addiction, and my Mexican grandmother’s worst fear — the continuation of the generational curse that plagued the men in her family.
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
When I was age ten, my father introduced me to sex by buying me a whore. On the other extreme, at other times he would make me stay away from the house when he had women over by turning on the porch light to let me know he had someone there.
At age 13, I began using alcohol and drugs to cope with the hurt and pain. (That’s usually always the next step for a child who is not around emotionally stable parents; especially parents who are so full of resentment and bitterness themselves that the only temporary relief they can get beyond the alcohol, drugs, or sex is taking it out on others around them, especially children who they have the most power over.) I became sexually irresponsible myself, having sex with any girl who would have sex. At the same time, I got my girlfriend pregnant many times and made her have abortions.
Life became so painful, I attempted to kill myself one time with a knife to the chest, but the knife broke. I felt that I couldn’t even do that right at the time! All my life ‘ I felt like a failure, and I believed that it was not possible for anyone to love me, or care for me. The repeated rejection from my parents reinforced this belief.
As is sadly so common, as I was abused, I too began to abuse everyone around me. I had no regard for my life or anyone else’s. I hated everyone. After all – no one loved me, (at least no one that I was aware of).
I was an extremely violent teenager. If I did not get what I wanted, I would take it; I would beat you up for it. If you looked at me wrong – I would beat you up — looking for any little excuse to vent my frustration, anger and revenge.
I became a Dad at 19 (the girlfriend whom I made have several abortions was the mother), and because I did not know how to be a father, I continued to abuse alcohol and drugs, doing the best that I knew how to do to be a Dad.
I would beg and plead to be around my daughter. Her mother would move without telling me where she would be living. I eventually would find them and want to be around my daughter, but because I was always strung out on drugs, my daughter’s mother would not allow me to be a part of her life.
The time came when I became like a savage, robbing anyone and everyone that I could in order to be able to score some drugs. I didn’t care who I robbed: drug dealers, other addicts, drug houses, innocent people ‘ it didn’t matter, as long as I could get some dope for myself.
For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief (Proverbs 24:16)
With that savage mindset, I began my journey in and out of prison. I was arrested in 1986 for “Breaking and Entering.” I was sentenced, through the Michigan Department Of Corrections, to a 2-5 year stay in the MDOC prison system, during which time I went through withdrawals from all the drugs that I had been on, so often wishing that I was dead.
I was released on tether after a year of my sentence. Once I was released, the chaos started again and only got worse. When I had been incarcerated, I had corresponded with a female that I had known in the streets. She became my girlfriend, and she came to pick me up when I was released on tether. When she came to get me, she came with a large quantity of cocaine. Within one month of my release I was back into my addiction and criminal activities, as if I had never stopped.
Around this same time my daughter and I were temporarily reunited at her baptism. However, my violent behavior destroyed our short-lived reconciliation.
What contributed to that . . . my daughter’s godfather had stepped up to the plate and became her father-figure, and shortly after her baptism, her godfather was killed. I vowed to find the person who caused that pain to my little girl (not considering the pain I had already caused or was going to cause). Although I felt that I was doing the ‘honorable thing,’ I only ended up refueling the anger and hatred that I had lived with from childhood.
I found the person who caused my daughter the pain of losing her godfather, and I tried to kill this person. It didn’t matter to me that I was on parole, because I was out of control. I was erupting inside, and did not know how to free myself, yet fortunately I called my parole agent and told him what I had done.
Shortly after calling my parole agent I was arrested and sent back to prison for a short time. During this incarceration my son was born (1988). I was released later that year and married my son’s mother. This turned out to be a huge mistake. My new wife and son became ‘my hostages,’ as I did not understand the sacredness of matrimony. I continued my terrorism on life through continued drugs and alcohol, and all the sin that came with it.
The years that I have spent in prison were certainly some of the toughest years of my life, yet they pale in comparison to the years I have spent in total spiritual darkness. My worst day in prison with Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior is ten times better than my seemingly good days in the world without Jesus.
As I have looked back, I can see that God has had His hand on me my whole life. He has given me grace to be able to go through what I have been through. He has given me mercy for my past (both the pain I caused to others, and the pain they gave to me). He has allowed people to love me as He loves us unconditionally!
Jesus has given me the ability to forgive my parents, and the ability to forgive myself. Being able to forgive one’s self is one of the most difficult barriers to overcome for many people, as it was me, but with the strength that Jesus Christ provides ‘ it is very much possible!
It is written in God’s Word: I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). I am now 100% completely convinced that I can do all things through Christ Jesus that the Bible tells me to do ‘ that God asks me to do.
Being able to forgive people you hate ‘ no matter what they did to you or how they treated you ‘ is very possible through the strength that Jesus Christ provides. All it takes is a decision on our part. Getting to that place to make the decision is the most difficult. Once you come to that place though, the Holy Spirit gives you the courage to rely on the strength of Jesus Christ to actually do the forgiving. Wow! Talk about unlimited power that comes from the strength of Jesus Christ!
The last barrier to being free from your past is being able to forgive yourself for what you have done to others — forgive God if one is holding bitterness against Him for allowing all the childhood pain to happen in the first place — and many times, yourself. Forgiveness always needs to be looked at in those three areas: (others, yourself, and God). And again ‘ once a person allows the Holy Spirit to give them the desire ‘ to give them the courage ‘ God the Father promises that through Jesus Christ, He will provide the strength to follow through with it. (The promise is found in Philippians 4:13, as quoted above).
The wisest thing a person can do to have generational curses broken off their life – to soar spiritually and emotionally (which affects every other area of a person’s life) ‘ to soar in God ‘ is forgive.
If you have a nuclear warhead ticking away, about to explode, it has to be disarmed someway. The way to disarm the deadly cancer of hate ‘ bitterness ‘ self-destructive tendencies (which end up trapping people in drugs, alcohol, crime, promiscuous sex, suicide tendencies, abuse to others, desire for revenge, etc.) ‘ is to forgive.
Your mind will try to convince you that certain people who have hurt you do not deserve forgiveness. God may likely agree! However, ‘ that’s beside the point. Jesus Christ didn’t deserve to die the painful death He died on the cross for the sins of humanity either ‘ but He did it because of the joy it would bring afterwards. What ‘joy’ was that? Joy that millions upon millions would be able to have their sins forgiven and be allowed to spend eternity in heaven with God! Joy that the sins of Mark Anthony Velez would be forgiven! Power to forgive and love others, even including loving one’s enemies!
I come before you today as a living testimony of our loving God; proof that when we let go of the way the world looks at issues and grab hold of Jesus Christ and His truth (His Word), nothing is impossible for us. The life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a freedom and power that cannot be fully explained. Only through a personal relationship with God could we ever understand the magnitude of His love for us, His creation.
My rest is in the Lord Jesus Christ, for he is my refuge in times of trouble and in times of happiness. (See: Isaiah 14:3 and Psalms 9:9). I am truly thankful now for my life and the ability to love myself, which allows (frees!) me to love others. Because God loves me unconditionally, why should I not love me unconditionally? After seeing how God can restore me, I know that God will restore all the broken relationships in my life, even with my son and daughter and with my parents. Every day I seek the Lord, He continues to show me new mercy, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share God’s love through these words of my testimony.
Maybe your life up until now has been a tumultuous journey as well. Maybe even much more than mine. But I want to leave you with a couple of facts you may not be aware of. God did not allow you to be born just to watch you be miserable your whole life. God created you to give you the opportunity to accept or reject the liberty and freedom that is available in Jesus Christ.
God can take the pain of your past ‘ the pain you are experiencing right now ‘ and turn it into one glorious message of hope and inspiration to others who are going through similar things as you have gone through. Do you truly want to keep living the way you have always lived? Where has it gotten you? No ‘ I don’t believe you do. I believe you are ready to try a better way. A way that has brought multitudes of others out of their painful past and turned them into joyful powerhouses for God.
Jesus Christ stands ready to forgive you of every sin ‘ every wrong thing you have done. Nothing you have done will hinder Him from forgiving you ‘ I tell you the truth! Nothing. All you have to do is be courageous enough ‘ humble enough ‘ to admit to Jesus that you are a sinner, and you need a Savior to forgive you of that sin.
Are you going to make your life count from here to be a mighty man of God ‘ a mighty woman of God ‘ or are those at your funeral going to remember you as the one who lived their entire life ‘a victim of unfortunate circumstances?’
You have the power to make the choice to allow God to bring about glorious change in your life and in your situation. Jesus Christ stands waiting ‘