“It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are.” ~ E.E. Cummings
In May of 2012, I walked through the prison gates to teach life skills to inmates.
If you had told me back in 1999 when I ended my six year career as a military policeman that one day I would teach life skills to inmates, I would have called you crazy. Working in a prison was not part of my plan.
Sometimes the plans we make don’t happen the way we initially wanted them to. When things don’t go our way, we have two choices: we can either let it destroy us or let it strengthen us. This decision will help define who we become.
Regardless of where we are in life, we have a choice and that is what I have learned while working in a prison. My realization may not be impressive to you, but let me explain my thinking.
When I first entertained the idea of teaching inmates, I assumed that the majority of inmates would take my class simply to have something else to do rather than the usual. But what I quickly realized was some inmates will still choose to remain in their “prison” rather than change. Perhaps this isn’t as shocking to you as it was to me, but seeing that someone would choose not to change, learn and grow was somewhat disheartening to me.
I learned that both inmates and “free people” can live in “prison.” While an inmate literally lives in a prison, a free person may live in his or her own version of a prison. Abusive relationships, unhealthy lifestyles, miserable careers, toxic friendships can all make us feel like we are behind bars.
I can empathize with anyone that chooses to stay in “prison” simply because of the fear to change. Of course, they won’t call their situation an inability to change due to fear, but a failure to change is due to fear!
Don’t let fear define or destroy you. Let them strengthen you.
Look, we all have fears. All of our fears will never go away completely, but you can learn to dance with your fears.
I know making a change can sound scary, but call upon the hope inside of you. Dream a little more and use your imagination. Choose to believe. Have faith! Remember your strengths and use your resources. Everybody has experienced at least one success and everyone has resources available.
Yes, you may have to “put on your thinking cap” and investigate what is available to you but you do have options. Yes, you may have to make sacrifices if you want to make changes in your life or transform your entire life, but if you can make it to the “other side,” the reward will be that much sweeter.
So, if you are in a prison, literally or figuratively, I pray that you let it strengthen you. God gave you the ability to choose. Will you choose joy or sadness? Pleasure or pain?
When something bad happens to you, what are you going to choose? Will you let the bad thing become your identity, let it destroy who God made you to be, or let it strengthen you?
Some changes can be very easy; I can show you how. The question is: Do you really want to change?
I know the choice can be tough. I had to make that decision myself. I chose a different way of life and with God’s grace I have been able to live a different way of life. Sure, there are many ways to “get to the same place” and some inmates or “free people” don’t need a life coach, but if you are stuck or just tired of being sick and tired, then do something about it!
I wish you passion, peace and purpose on your journey.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” ~ Charles Darwin
Editor: Seychelles Pitton