P.S. It’s okay to share the ugly...

The P.S. series includes behind-the-scenes insights and closing thoughts on each feature piece — the good stuff that didn’t quite fit into the final story. Click here to read “Last Man Standing”

Freddie Rios was sitting on the last seat, about seven rows back, on the far left side of the large church sanctuary. It was a Sunday morning about a week before we were scheduled to sit down for our interview. As service ended, I made my way over to say hello and answer any last minute questions.

"I’m not sure what I should share,” Freddie said, as we discussed how the interview would go.

I reassured him that he could share his whole story, and that I would take care of editing, writing, and piecing it all together.

“I was really not a nice guy back then,” he said, his gaze meeting mine. I could sense his nervousness and discomfort.

I got to know Freddie a few years ago when he was part of a ministry team I was overseeing at church. He quickly stood out to me as one of the most faithful servants, always willing to fill in if someone else was unavailable, always soft-spoken and polite. Our conversations usually centered on how work was going, or what his many nieces and nephews were up to. He rarely came to church without at least one of them alongside. When he found out I was working on a story-telling project, Freddie told me he was ready and willing to be a part of it.

I tried to give him an out that Sunday morning after church. I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable, or guilty if he was having second thoughts. Without hesitation, he stopped me.

“I need to do this,” he said.

There were parts of Freddie’s story that I know were hard for him to share. They were probably hard for you to read. In writing, I strived to avoid being unnecessarily graphic. But sin is an ugly, ugly thing, and all of us bear the stain in our own way (Romans 3:23).

The beauty of the gospel is that Jesus Christ is the answer for sin. All sin. There is no other answer. And forgiveness is available to everyone who is willing to turn away from sin and toward Jesus as Savior.

Freddie is someone who’s seen his sin for the evil that it is, and remains in awe that God has forgiven him and cleansed him of his past wrongs. To hear the emotion in his voice as he shared how much he loves the Lord, was one of the most honest, beautiful things I’ve seen.

I’m thankful he took a step of courage to share his story — ugly and all.