THE COURTS FORGET, BUT GOOGLE REMEMBERS
By Joe Burnham: Just the other day, a letter arrived from my lawyer letting me know that my arrest has been expunged. It’s sealed. It’s gone. My legal record is now clean.
Unfortunately, Google never forgets. Type my name in and before you even finish my last name, suggested searches with words like “prostitution” and “arrested” appear. Click over to Images and my mugshot appears. My grandest failure -- with a simple search of my name.
The courts have forgotten, but Google remembers. And as hard as it is to accept, there's grace in both. Grace forgets, and grace remembers.
Psalm 103 says, "...as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us." And with that in mind, I've chosen not to let that night define me. I’ve moved forward, and life has come along with me. I love. I serve. I work. I laugh. I play. I live. Grace has forgotten, and I am still loved. I've been given a second chance.
At the same time, grace remembers. Later in the Bible, the apostle Paul reminds us not to forget the past, but to recall the old while living out the new. In my life, recalling the old has given me the opportunity to serve others who stand today where I stood not that long ago. My story resonates with old friends, pastors, students, and volunteers who’ve left in despair. Themes of shame, relational dysfunction, and hopelessness echo from my old life into theirs.
And then comes the story of my second chance. Pursuing healthy community; loving arms wrapping around me when my actions made me unlovable; facing down the labels that lie and embracing the identity that comes with grace. My story has helped others find guidance, direction, and hope for a new life from death of the old.
Grace forgot, and I was given a second chance. But grace remembers, so I can share my story with others. It’s true for me, and it’s true for you.