Mark Wahlberg has enjoyed success as a singer, actor and producer. But long before he made it big in Hollywood, he was headed down a dangerous path. Recently, Mark shared how his faith helped him turn his life around after his troubled youth.
A Project Close To Home
Mark grew up in Boston. And he's now helping produce and starring in the new film Patriot’s Day about the Boston marathon bombing. The movie, which releases nationally January 13, is a project close to his heart, because of the way his hometown came together after the attack.
"It filled me with such pride to call myself a Bostonian. I kind of beat my chest for reasons other than what Larry Bird did, or the Patriots do. This love and strength is so powerful, and knowing that we can still come out after a horrible event and radiate this love is special for me," he told PEOPLE in a recent interview.
While growing up in Boston, Mark got into quite a bit of trouble in his youth.
A Rough Start
Mark recalled the racial tensions in the 70’s and 80’s when mandated desegregation was happening in Boston’s public school system. The actor also recalled his own problems from these years. As a troubled youth, Mark often skipped school and had run-ins with police. At the age of 16, he even robbed a convenience store, resulting in a conviction of assault and theft.
But it was that time in jail that prompted Mark Wahlberg to make a change by turning his attention to his faith.
"I had to make the choice personally, and then I had to focus on my faith." he explained. "And my faith has really allowed me to overcome a lot of things. And hard work. You know, nothing comes easy especially when you've got your back against the wall and you've got a lot going against you. But I wanted to prove to people through my actions, and not my words, that I was going to change."
Hear Mark Wahlberg talk about the change that took place in jail in the video below:
A Heart Changed By God
Once Mark made the decision to submit God's will, everything changed. He traded his troubled youth headed towards a life of crime for hard work and determination. And it paid off!
But even after becoming a Hollywood success, Mark never looked back. God has remained at the center of his life.
"Once I focused on my faith wonderful things started happening for me. And I don't mean professionally – that's not what it's about," he said. "For me to sit down and ask for material things is ridiculous. It's a much bigger picture than that. I want to serve God and to be a good human being and to make up for the mistakes I made and the pain I put people through. That's what I'm praying for, and I recommend it to anybody."
It's through his faith that Mark finds the strength to be a committed husband to his wife, Rhea, and a devoted father to their four children.
Credit: Twitter / @mark_wahlberg
"What I do every day is pray for the strength to be a good servant, father and husband," he said. "I ask for the ability to raise my kids, to teach and protect them, and to be disciplined and firm and loving and nurturing. It can be a fine line, so I ask God for the strength to not lose my patience with my children."
So, returning to Boston to work on the film Patriot’s Day provides a reminder of just how far Mark has come -- how much he's been blessed.
"I think the fact that I've been able to turn my life around and really make my mom proud and become a better person through focusing on my faith, it always gives me great sense of pride to come home," Mark said.
The glitz and glamour of the Hollywood life can quickly become a distraction for most. But even with all of his success, Mark Wahlberg makes a point to never forget what his life was like before God was at the center. And he keeps his eyes turned to the Giver rather than the gifts.
"Anything that's good in my life is because of my faith," he said. "A lot of people get in trouble, go to jail and find God, and the minute they don't need God anymore, they're gone. But I spend a good portion of my day thanking God for all the blessings that have been bestowed on me. If it all ended today, I'd be happy. I've had such an amazing journey."
What an inspiration Mark Wahlberg is in reminding us that no matter what circumstances we face, God is the answer. God has a different plan for each of us, and it is always good!
Check out the act of kindness a mom of 3 received from Christian comedian Jeff Foxworthy!
h/t: Christian Headlines