ADVENT: Carlos Whittaker - LOVE
Carlos Whitaker is a People’s Choice Award winner, former recording artist, author, speaker, influencer, and Christian leader. He is a husband and father of three. He joined the Solo Parent Society podcast to talk about his journey through brokenness that led him to a place of true humility.
When Carlos was at the bottom, after wounding many people he cared about, he was filled with shame and guilt and felt worthless. The only thing that kept him going was scripture declaring God’s love for him. He was contemplating horrible things when a friend sent him 1 Peter 5:10 which says, “For the God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory in Christ Jesus will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you.” When he read that, he was stunned. There, in those four promises, Carlos felt the relief of knowing he was not alone. But it doesn’t stop there. 1 Peter 5:10 goes on to say, “after you have suffered a little”. When he was in the darkest season of his life, those words hit hard. His suffering didn’t feel like a little. It felt devastating and overwhelming. But what he realized is that although he might feel that way now, God was telling him that if he allowed God to do the necessary work in him, his suffering would go from feeling like “the entire book” to just a “chapter” and then to just a page to a paragraph, to a sentence and then to a word. What seemed enormous and consuming, as if it were the final word, would instead become part of a larger, even better story that God was writing.
We may feel like our suffering is an entire book, all consuming, as if that season will define us, but the promise is that our suffering will one day feel like “a little” because God gets the final word. God’s grace covers our suffering, our guilt, our grief, and our story. We are not defined by our season of suffering or failure. This scripture promises us that the God of all grace can bring restoration and our suffering will just be a sentence, not the whole book.
After failing everyone in his life, including himself, Carlos realized that he was still being offered a love without limits. God’s love for us is limitless and unchanging. The only limits were in Carlos’ ability to believe and receive it.
Carlos found himself contemplating God’s love, what it looked like and what it meant for him, after he had hit rock bottom. He was stuck in addictions that destroyed his family, his wife, his kids, and his ministry. He lost everything. His church didn’t know what to do with him. They loved and supported him when things were good, but they didn’t know what to do after his failures were exposed. Some people came around him and were there for him but there were just a few.
Carlos’ friend who later sent him 1 Peter 5:10 texted him two days after his entire world exploded saying, “I just wanted to reaffirm that I believe in you, and I know your best days are ahead. Grace is real. Jesus is getting a chance to remind you again how much He loves you… Your daily connecting into the rich scandalous overflowing pure and radical grace of Jesus is more important than anything else right now. These thoughts should fill your mind and dreams and moments of your day continuously. Be careful of a process that people put on you, or a system or advice that seeks to be punitive as opposed to restorative. This can be very confusing at times. When in doubt, always default to the words of Jesus and His words alone.” The text continued, encouraging, guiding, and offering hope and truth, at a time of desperation.
Carlos’ friend reminded him that “this is a story of grace, not a story of failure, a story of hope unfolding, not a story of mistakes unfolding from your past”. He sent those words in the darkest moments of Carlos’ life. It was love in action. This is the definition of love – when you love someone, you see them. When we see others like Christ does, 1 Peter 5:10 happens. His love begins the process of restoration, establishment, strengthening, and support. In those words of truth, the love and grace of God continued to write Carlos’ story.
Carlos’ family stayed together. They were restored, established, strengthened, and supported. That doesn’t always happen. Carlos shares, “That promise [of restoration] isn’t about our situation. It’s about our soul.” Our marriages aren’t always restored but our soul will be. God has incredible plans for us even if it doesn’t mean our situations are restored.
God’s love is constant and so is His grace. Yet, almost ten years later, Carlos recognizes there are still repercussions of his failure even after restoration. His past actions still have an impact today. He has seen some lasting effects on those he loves. His sin from a decade ago is still palpable. When it comes up, Carlos knows now to pray and to seek God’s grace which is never ending in its supply. The consequences of us breaking love and trust are real but there is a love that continues to choose us. Carlos needed that love, then and now. If we are honest, we all do, no matter our situation.
Part of our journey is owning our story. A significant part of being able to believe and receive God’s love is being honest about our failures and story. Carlos’ friend encouraged him to do that. This is a necessary part of grace and restoration because it is in our weaknesses and failure where we find God and experience His love. If we deny parts of us that we’re ashamed of, we are left with holes in our heart. When we hide and run, God’s love can’t fill those spots. We find ourselves seeking to pretend they’re not there or fill them in other ways. Only God’s love can fill those gaps in ways that bring healing and life. Anything else falls short.
The parts of us that we are hiding from and ashamed of are all parts that God loves. God created us and loved us in full. Carlos found himself inviting all the parts of himself to be forgiven, loved, and received. He looked back at the Carlos who had made hurtful and destructive mistakes and he saw in that person, a man God loved, without limits, without conditions. As Carlos owned his story, he let God fill those parts with His love and forgiveness too. God’s love covered all and healed his heart.
How in Advent do we express that kind of love to others? How can we be the hands and feet of Jesus to somebody else?
When we can walk fully in God’s love and grace, we are able to offer His words of life to others. Just as we experienced restoration, we can remind others that His grace is available to them too, “The God of all grace…will personally establish, restore, strengthen and support you”. Our healed and filled places of brokenness become areas of light and hope that we can share with others. Rather than hiding from or avoiding our own shame, when we allow God to enter those places with His grace, we become a safe place for others to experience His grace in those areas too. Rather than judging, pretending, or avoiding the mistakes or suffering of others, love moves toward those things. Love sends words of life. Love walks alongside. This is the Love that Advent brings – a love without limits, unconditional love and grace that restores, establishes, strengthens, and supports us – in our suffering, in our darkest hours. This is the Light of the World.
Follow Carlos Whittaker on Instagram @loswhit and learn more at carloswhittaker.com.
I needed this Message so badly thank you Mr Whittaker, for sharing your message, my husband passed away last year, and I have been so angry because there was so much left unsaid and unfinished. The reminder of Love is so powerful.
Mr Beeson thank you, I love the way when their is a conversation going you are all so open and share from the heart, It is so appreciated.