“Just to give it to you straight, I’ll just get right into it...my grandmother, my mom’s mom, was a prostitute.”
Meredith Brock’s face shows little expression as this statement comes out. Blunt, honest, vulnerable, straightforward. That’s Meredith. Her hands lift from the table momentarily to signal a “brace yourself” gesture. Because intensity courses through the events following this sentence.
But before she dives into that story, a quick glance at her iPhone creates a pause in the action. She checks the screen’s image of her 3-year-old son as he slips under his covers for nap time. Meredith uses an app that streams video from a camera in his bedroom specifically for nap time. Meredith’s self-learned tech side surfaces as she excitedly explains the “awesome” deal she got on the camera system, and how valuable it has been. As a person who often works from home as the Executive Director of the Creative Department for Proverbs 31, a large ministry geared toward encouraging woman in Charlotte, North Carolina, this system proves vital when working from the dining room table and keeping an eye on him.
But she quickly moves back into storytelling mode once nap time ensues. She speaks fluidly through the first part of her story that starts at childhood in Boise, Idaho. “Turbulent” would be the most accurate word to describe that time for Meredith. But shame or concern for how her past might make her look never stops her from sharing. As she dives into the highs and deep, deep lows of her circumstances from childhood through high school, no hint of shame ever slips out.
Because, as Meredith says, it is not her story. It is God’s. Only a divine intervention can explain the outcome of this journey. And because she lives in immense gratefulness for that intervention, she willingly shares.
In life, there are often two sides to a story. Meredith’s stands no differently. One side of the story highlights the reality that played out in front of her everyday until she graduated high school. The other side rests in a young married couple two thousand miles away.
But first, this story starts in Boise.
Meredith’s mother, the daughter of a prostitute, never lived in one house for more than a year. Considering the family business, staying in one place never really became an option. And at 17, Meredith’s mother finally had had enough. The implications of her rough home life simply weighed too heavily on her. So she decided to just end it all. But she also decided that if she was going to kill herself, she wanted to look good when they found her body. That meant a trip to the mall to find the right dress. As she perused from window to window, a group of college students slowly sauntered up to her. It was the 1970s, and the group embodied what was known as the “Jesus movement.”
These students spent all of their free time trying to introduce people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And on this day, Meredith’s mother stood in the right spot at the right time. As they spoke to her about who Jesus was, what He did on the cross, and what a life following Him looked like, Meredith’s mother conceded that she had tried everything but this. And, thankfully, she decided to give Jesus a shot.
That moment turned into frequent church visits and, eventually, to a less chaotic life. Which then led to her meeting Meredith’s dad. The two hit it off very quickly, and they even started going to church together.
But he, too, came from a difficult upbringing of an alcoholic father that physically abused him. And in high school, he had dabbled in the drug dealing business to earn quick cash. Needless to say, the two of them coming together and developing a healthy relationship proved difficult. But their family started regardless. Soon after having their first child, they got married and, over the next several years, had four more kids. By the time they were in their twenties, they had five kids. They did the best they could with what they knew and tried to raise a family the honest way, but it simply didn’t work.
“Nobody really taught them how to have a healthy relationship,” Meredith says. “I give my parents so much credit because they tried as hard as they possibly could to do it the right way.”
All too often, however, the family struggled to stay afloat. At times, they went with only one meal a day. Eviction notices came often. And a steady paycheck wasn’t possible with the parents’ lack of college education. So when his carpentry jobs dried up, Meredith’s dad went back to what he knew: selling weed. Turbulent times readily followed this series of events.
Meredith lived in a reality of an unstable home life, going through her parents’ divorce in seventh grade, helping to raise the child that her mom had with another man after the divorce, and sometimes venturing out to local jails to visit her often-imprisoned dad. She lived through all of this while hiding everything from her friends and life at school.
“I remember thinking in first or second grade, I’ve got to work really hard,” Meredith recalls, “so that I could do good in school and get out of this mess. And nobody planted that in my head. But I worked really hard and learned how to fake it really well.”
In high school, Meredith joined the cheerleading team and smiled her way through the honors classes, outworking everybody to get the top grades in high school. Good grades were her ticket out. But that didn’t stop the fact that members of her family were well-known drug peddlers in the area. And it didn’t change the fact that Meredith’s mother, who cleaned office buildings in the middle of the night, wasn’t home to keep track of her daughter’s whereabouts. Nor was she too concerned. Meredith was the “good kid,” after all.
So around 16 years of age, Meredith began hanging out with kids who weren’t as study-centric as she. They began to partake in recreational drug use and drinking. Nothing intense or abusive, but it was enough to disrupt the one track, school-first mindset Meredith previously applied to her life. She started attracting attention from guys. And she even spent weekends away from home unnoticed. This meant Meredith had free reign.
That free reign, however, induced three incidents that changed the course of her life.
On a random Saturday in the middle of the summer, Meredith and her friends drank through a warm midwestern night and didn’t stop until the early hours of the next morning. Because no one amongst her friends was sober enough to drive, Meredith decided to walk home. But after about three blocks, the wobbly Meredith was simply too tired to keep walking. So, she laid down and went to sleep...on a stranger’s lawn.
Meredith awoke to police officers handcuffing her. At 16 years old, she got her first drinking ticket. And incident one was stamped into the books.
Then, in August of that summer, she went out to another party. The drinking ticket did not deter her from partying since it was only a small chunk of money to pay. And the group of friends, whom Meredith always hung out with, was known for trying new “party” drugs as a group.
with, was known for trying new “party” drugs as a group. On this night, it was GHB, or more commonly known as the date rape drug. Meredith decided to partake with the group. The party first played out like any giggly high school scene. But that scene quickly took a turn when Meredith observed three others pass out and start seizing. No one could wake them up, so they called the ambulance. Meanwhile, Meredith could feel herself getting very sleepy. So when the paramedics arrived, she told them she took the drugs too. They took her to the hospital with the three others and hooked her up to an IV. The doctors told her that she had overdosed on the drug. All she could think to herself was, why would I do something so stupid?
Her senior year started a few weeks later, and the uneasiness of those two incidents lingered. However, Meredith entered school down but not out. She still had some drive in her left despite the difficult summer.
The final straw landed in the form of her high school boyfriend. She caught him cheating on her. But not through rumors or questionable phone calls. Meredith walked in on her boyfriend and her middle-school best friend in bed. Incident number three had landed with a heavy thud.
“All three of those events happened at one time,” Meredith says. “[And] it snapped me to this place where I realized, ‘Oh my gosh. I am just like them. I am just like the rest of my family.’ And it really scared me. I [thought] I would end up like the rest of them.”
At this point in the story, Meredith’s life took a bit of a pause. She stopped talking to people at school. She didn’t tell her family what happened with her boyfriend. And the internal angst evolved into a depression. Yet, Meredith still had the ability to see beyond her family’s difficult circumstances. She saw family near and far deal drugs, use drugs, abuse alcohol, and step into terrible relationships.
terrible relationships. But Meredith possessed an innate ability to observe her actions from a different perspective. A perspective of not wanting to fall
into the same pits as those in her home. So after these three incidents, Meredith knew something needed to change. She just didn’t know what that should be.
This is the moment Meredith’s life inexplicably changed.
One person after the next kept lending a helping hand. First, it was Emily, an acquaintance at her high school who frequently and, often annoyingly, invited Meredith to a Bible study. Meredith finally said, “Yes,” after constantly being awkwardly cornered in the hallways of her school.
Then it was through Emily’s church that Meredith met the individuals at Young Life, an organization well-known throughout the nation for its work with young adults. They unconditionally helped Meredith throughout her senior year. They told her that they were there for her no matter what. Meredith put that to the test and called them for favors, even if it meant a ride from a party. They always came to pick her up.
These same people urged Meredith to go to a retreat during her winter break. Subsequently, the people from that retreat encouraged Meredith to work at a Young Life summer camp. They told her they would pay for her travel expenses all the way up to the camp’s location outside of Vancouver, Canada. It was a free adventure Meredith couldn’t refuse.
For 30 days, Meredith ate, slept, and worked completely removed from her family in Boise. It was at this camp that she met Caleb and Tracy, a young married couple who worked as camp counselors for the summer. Caleb and Tracy saw something unique in Meredith from early on. They weren’t exactly sure what it was since they had only known her for a few weeks. But they saw a young girl slowly entering into a process with God. She entered camp as an apprehensive girl who didn’t know if she wanted to live this life according to the teachings of Jesus.
an apprehensive girl who didn’t know if she wanted to live this life according to the teachings of Jesus. But over time, her perspective started changing.
Caleb and Tracy decided to present a wild idea to Meredith: rather than return to Boise, she should go to Alaska with them for a six-week camping and hiking road trip.
In her head, Meredith felt unsure. Her good grades got her into Boise State University, which meant she would start college that fall. But her heart leapt at the idea of going to Alaska. Returning to Boise meant living amongst the turmoil of her childhood. So trusting in her gut, Meredith decided to embark on six weeks in Alaska.
Meredith’s life changed dramatically after she made the decision to go to Alaska.
“I honestly believe that this has everything to do with my in-laws praying for me as a little girl,” Meredith says.
Remember, there are two parts to Meredith’s story. And the other part took shape 2,400 miles away, in the small town of Columbia, South Carolina, where a 30-year-old man sat with his hands clasped within his wife’s. His eyes were closed shut. That man was a pastor at a growing Baptist church and a new father to a baby boy. The year was 1984 and he, Pastor Don, felt a strong urge to pray for his toddler’s future spouse.
“We regularly prayed for our kids’ spouses,” Don remembers. “And the three things we prayed for were: first, their salvation; second, that they would know God’s purpose for their life; and thirdly, that they would be passionate about that purpose. And so, I was really fascinated to see who my children married.”
He never knew whom he prayed for. He simply let the Holy Spirit guide his seemingly ambiguous and vague prayers. Don and his wife, however, consistently prayed for a person they didn’t know and would not know until much later in life. At certain times, they would pray for specific things like her making it through difficult times. Or for the future spouse to see God in everyday life. It was all unknown to Don, but he had to have faith that God answered these prayers.
His son Mack, who later became Meredith’s husband, articulates this notion well.
“From an early age, they were always praying for Meredith, without knowing who she was, obviously,” Mack explains. “The Lord is outside of time and outside of the details. We don’t know what we are praying for, but He just knows how to fill in all of those holes and all of those gaps in our prayers. So from that perspective, it is really cool to see how the Lord works. And to see how he was answering a prayer that was really vague from my parents.”
When Mack first met Meredith, she avoided him. In her mind, a fairly large, burly mountain man stood next to her in her future marriage photo. And Mack simply didn’t fit that mold. At the time they met, he was touring over 70 cities with his band, Brevada, as the lead singer and lead guitarist.
“And along came this skinny, little, pasty, white band boy,” Meredith jokes. “And I was like, ‘I could break you with my thigh.’ There was nothing there to me.”
But Mack immediately felt attracted to something in Meredith. He recognizes it now as her strength. A strength that stems from her turbulent past.
past. A strength that Mack learned to respect. But also a strength that Mack had to fight. The more Mack pursued her, the more Meredith pushed him away. She stubbornly convinced herself that they were not a good fit. They came from two very different places and two very different families. In fact, after a few short months, Meredith tried to end the relationship once and for all. In the car one day, Meredith told Mack that she was moving back to Alaska.
Mack simply said, “Nope, I don’t think so.” Similar to Meredith, Mack possessed some stubbornness of his own.
“I just quickly diverted the conversation away from that and said that everything would be fine. It would all work out,” Mack remembers.
Regardless, Meredith decided to move back to Alaska to live with Caleb and Tracy once again. But after being there for a few weeks, Meredith began racking up huge cell phone bills from calls with Mack. They talked almost everyday. So, Tracy finally asked her. Why are you not allowing yourself to accept this love from Mack?
Her whole life, Meredith attempted to hide her home life. She didn’t want anybody to really see what she had moved away from. That included someone like Mack. But she didn't realize that her life was the very thing that Mack felt attracted to. The craziest elements of her life were overshadowed by the way she had gone to God in the midst of her most difficult of times, revealing a strength not normally found in a woman with her upbringing. A strength to see the goodness of God no matter what.
After realizing that she was running away from Mack for the wrong reason, she moved back to South Carolina for grad school and to be with Mack. The dating period only lasted about nine months. But in that span of time, there was a pivotal moment when Mack’s family took Meredith to Disney World for a vacation.
time, there was a pivotal moment when Mack’s family took Meredith to Disney World for a vacation. They knew she had never had the opportunity to go to the world-famous theme park in Orlando, Florida. The trip started several days before departure as Mary, Mack's mother, and Meredith sat on the living room floor, planning out the trip with a sprawl of tourists maps, attraction lists, and popular rides laid out before them. At 24-years-old, she felt like the kid she could never be. It was at the theme park that everything clicked for Meredith. During a lunch at Disney World, she saw how God’s redemption completely turned her life around. God had given her a family who loved her unconditionally as if she were their own.
“Don looked at me from across the table, tears welling up in his eyes, and saying, ‘I just want you to know that I have been praying for you since you were two years old. There have been seasons when I prayed for you and couldn’t stop praying for you. And I know that the Lord answered my prayers,’” Meredith says. “And I knew, looking back on my life, I should not be alive. And I shouldn’t have chosen to go the academic route that I did. There is no other reason to explain it, other than the prayers of my husband's parents. And I am so thankful for them and the way they have accepted me.”
Today, Meredith spends a few days at the office plotting and planning the backend web design with her team of seven creatives. The other days, she answers emails, calls, and questions from home as her son bounces from one super hero toy to the next. But she always keeps an eye on him. Not because she is an overly protective mother. But because her son is a gift that reflects a prayer somewhere.
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