This is from a great friend of ours who is doing time. He included this in a letter he wrote to us.
I wrote this after praying for my Street Family.
To Whom It May Concern:
It’s June 6, 2007 and I’ve just finished reading “Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul.” I was not disappointed in all of the stories in which I read. I’m sitting in San Quentin on a parole violation and for the first time I have been using this time to reprogram my self to look for the good in life rather than the bad. It’s not always easy to do in here where your race and muscle determine the level of your manhood. Where negativity is the most popular religion and violence is merely a tool in which we use to separate the weak from strong.
I always thought of myself as a badass before I was put in here. Even though this is my fourth visit I’ve changed in a lot of ways. I no longer see the world as those who are strong and those who are weak. Instead I see people who apply themselves to seek out solutions, and those who choose to cause problems. On a level 3 yard problem makers are the majority. Young kids come in here eager to prove their loyalty to what ever cause, even if it means senselessly killing another human being to gain that “respect”. I’ve met 18 year old kids who talk about getting their points high enough to graduate to a level 4 yard the way most college students talk about graduating college with a masters degree. This breaks my heart.
I also see people who enroll in school, or sign up to learn a trade they can use upon release. I see Lifers that will never see the outside world again encourage others to take parole planning courses to help them learn how to stay out of here. I’ve seen convicted murderers pray for God to use them to teach others not to use violence in order to gain “respect”. I’ve seen miracle upon miracle here in the depths of desperation and hopelessness.
What have I learned from these experiences? Life is what you make it and you are what you think. I’ve spent a lot of my life thinking I was stupid, mean, rebellious, violent, tough, above the law, and exempt from consequences of my behavior. Now I CHOOSE to see myself as loving, loveable, positive, peaceful, understanding, open minded, prayerful, and forgiven. I seek Jesus and try each day to respond to stressfull situations as if Jesus was standing next to me. I pray for the strength and wisdom as well as a forgiving heart. I pray to be a tool of light in this world of darkness.
I don’t know what the future holds for me but I know what it doesn’t hold. It doesn’t hold alcohol, drugs, violence, self-centerdness, hopelessness, or crime. Today I seek out people who live in the solution rather than bleed within the problem. It’s no longer what the world can give to me. Its what can I give to the world. I don’t care who you are, what race you are, what your sexual preference is, or what gang you belong to. I love you! And you are worth every blessing God longs to give you. But its up to you to reach out your hand to receive them.
Just a Forgiven Sinner,
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, or envying one another. Galatians 5:22-26