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Notes & Transcripts

Liz Murray’s drug-addicted parents raised her and her sister in poverty in New York—really raised isn’t the right word, they had to care for themselves. Her father was an intelligent man, quite gifted, but lived a diminished life because of the drugs. Her mother suffered from mental illness along with her drug addiction and was content to live from one high to the next that she paid for with her government check and prostitution.

What makes Murray’s story remarkable isn’t her dire upbringing—unfortunately, these stories are all too common. Her story is remarkable because she rose from these circumstances to graduate from Harvard and is the author of Breaking Night and the subject of a Lifetime movie, From Homeless to Harvard.

Liz Murray says, “When I let myself experience my sorrow and I did not resist it or cover it with any distraction, another experience surfaced. Willing to face my pain, I began to see its inverse. The invisible victories of my life came into focus: the countless acts of love toward my parents; getting myself out of bed those mornings at friends’ houses to go to school; earning a paycheck that I used to take care of myself; taking the hair out of my face to risk eye contact; my loving friendships; and every single day that I kept on going, when I would so much rather not have. Accepting my sorrow, I then was able to accept my strength in the face of so much loss.”

- Breaking Night, p. 319 Illustration by Jim L. Wilson

Lamentations 3:19-24 (CEV) “ Just thinking of my troubles and my lonely wandering makes me miserable. (20) That's all I ever think about, and I am depressed. (21) Then I remember something that fills me with hope. (22) The LORD'S kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed. (23) The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning. (24) Deep in my heart I say, “The LORD is all I need; I can depend on him!’”

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