Saturday, August 10, 2013

New Post: "Seeing Prison as a Chance to Change"

What happens in prison when a person arrives after being convicted?

We have all seen the movies, and understand the basics:
  • Prisoners are cataloged, numbered, and given uniforms.
  • In the process, everything you have is taken away.
  • What remains is whatever life experience they know.

BUT- What happens next?

Try to think of this time “inside” as a ‘pressure-cooker’;
where what one person has internally
is either removed, like steam in the cooking process,
or the ‘juices’ of life so-far become like a marinade -
cooking ever deeper into the person’s being.

In short- either things are removed,
or they become more deeply ingrained,
but nothing stays exactly the same.

Some prisoners become more of what they previously were;
While others may make the effort to change into something new.

To be clear here, either option sets them on a new path for life,
but while inside they have daily thoughts competing in the mind...
  1. do I change to become something better?
    1. An improved version of myself?
  2. Or do I figure out a new way of ‘getting-mine’?
    1. with no regards to other people or the law?

The first takes real change, and is extreemly difficult.
It requires more strength and courage than ever,
especially within the location they will find themselves.

The second is the easier path-
and it is similar to what we do on the ‘outside’:
  • do I become father, husband, and neighbor?
  • or do I do more of the same thing- watch television, and not bother...

I was blessed while I was in prison, with an external support group.

These were people who prayed for me daily,
and I know those prayers are still being answered today in my life!

Now- because I have the beautiful wife and children God always intended,
and I am a trusted member of a church community, neighborhood, and workplace.

Then- God allowed the hearts of these people to send me books,
to write me letters of hope and encouragement,
to visit with me and take my phone-calls,
so that I can feel as though I am still part of their lives.

What does the average prisoner receive while they are “inside”?
  • Separation from everyone they know-
    • no letters, phone-calls, books, or visits,
    • and no one praying for their wellbeing.
  • Pressure from others in the system-
    • fellow prisoners want each to become more like them, encouraging one another into new criminal behaviors and thinking;
    • while the guards, and counselors/case-workers continue to ‘sing-the-same-song’, mimicking the lawyers, judges, politicians, and society who require a change, but offer little support to do so.

One example- in the State Prison where I lived,
there were two-thousand(2000) inmates,
with one(1)chaplain.

Another example- there was one Alcoholics Anonymous/ Narcotics Anonymous group.
It met every two-weeks, and allowed thirty(30) attendees.
Anyone not part of the group went onto a waiting list.
If there was any additional support, it wasnt provided by the state.

Next week we can visit what a few outside groups do.
But here is the one thing I want to offer as a glimpse of hope-
you can change!

With God, you can become a new person,
even if there is no continued presence of anyone else
to come alongside you in your walk to know Christ better!
God will send you the Holy Spirit,
to provide the guidance you seek.
It requires only one thing- that you ask with a sincere heart.
And I would recommend that you ask and seek God daily,
to truly know the power of His ability to change you.

“Anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person.
The past is forgotten, and everything is new.”
(2 Corinthians 5:17 CEV)

Can a butterfly go back into a cocoon after it’s come out as a caterpillar?
Of course not. It can’t happen.
Once the caterpillar becomes a butterfly, it is what it is — a butterfly.
When you become a believer, you’re like that butterfly — you come out of your cocoon. It may take you some time to fly spiritually, but once you become a new creation in Christ, you are what you are. You are a new creation. -Rick Warren

I agree with Pastor Rick here, yet I want to clarify something:

Your ability to change requires surrender
that can only come through brokenness and humility.

Only then can we come to truly know healing in God-
because at the end of ourselves is where we find Him

waiting with open arms and love!

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