What am I going to do with the rest of my life? I’ve lived what (I hope) is no more than two-thirds of it already. If I were to know I’d be dying in a month, or a week, or tomorrow, what would I feel I still needed to do? Travel? Forgive someone? Have a greater, stronger faith?

In the end, I think it comes down to faith. We need to believe that there is something more. At least I need to believe that. I need to live my best life possible and then still hope for more.

Have I sowed enough oats? Probably too many. Have I loved enough? Perhaps more than I should have. Have I done my best with what I’ve had? I’ve tried. I think that is what God wants us to do…to do our best with what He’s given us.

That might be harder to do in prison…but then, maybe it’s easier. This “outside” world is so full of distractions, and they, too often, take us off course. A prison environment eliminates a lot of those distractions. Perhaps it would make it a little easier to ask oneself the following questions.

Have I encouraged someone today?

Have I listened to somebody who really needed to be heard?

Have I given support to someone who is struggling?

Have I fought for someone’s right to stand up for his or her own beliefs?

Have I used the gifts I have been given, and have I built on them?

Have I suppressed angry words today?

Have I refrained from gossiping about someone today?

Have I been willing to share all that has been given to me?

Do you have any regrets, or is there something you still feel compelled to do? Suddenly, life seems way too short. Take stock of where you are, and of where you want to be going. Take stock. Reassess.

In the end, this will be my question:  Have I been enough?

Moving Forward

Perhaps there is some value in lengthy incarcerations. Recently I heard from two new friends who remain behind bars. They seem to know their own direction…but they have been in prison for years. One observed of some around him that “they hold in anger and resentment” and “wear every injustice.” The other wrote “Hating someone will kill you just as fast as over-drinking every day.”

These men have ridden themselves of anger. They are looking forward to the chance at a better life. They have discovered a sense of purpose, a desire to be different than they were before they came to prison.

The words that these men wrote resonated with me because I know another man who does not live in a prison surrounded by razor wire…though he might as well. He lives in his very own prison of anger and resentment. It has sapped his strength for anything productive. He is frozen in time, imprisoned in his own hell from which he has been unable to escape.

We are all prisoners in some way. All too often we get stuck in attitudes and behaviors that are unproductive. Friends, relatives, and mentors often help to direct us to more positive ways of living. What if we never knew anyone who valued us enough to show us the difference?

Whether you are behind the sliding door of a cell, or isolated from society by personal choice, YOU could be the person who could make the difference in another’s life. YOU have value. YOU are worth it. YOU are a child of God and there is a reason for you to be here. Don’t ignore your potential. Move forward!

Nowhere by Accident

“You Go Nowhere by Accident.” That was the title of the sermon today at church. There are no coincidences. You are exactly where you are meant to be.

I find this both comforting and exciting. Of course, I’m a “Morning Person” and my glass is almost always “half full.” Still, think about it. If you look for it, you can find the silver lining in any situation. On the other hand, the opportunity will probably have passed you by if you only spend your time grousing over your circumstances.

Most crimes are not committed unknowingly. Many crimes are premeditated. Many individuals, therefore, understand why they are in prison. Initially, the reason is often to be taught a lesson. But, if that lesson has been learned, what then? Be still and listen. The answer lies within each of us. Do we need to learn to be more patient, or is there simply more we need to learn? Is there someone we know who needs a listening ear? Can we offer help to someone nearby? Perhaps sharing a lesson learned will change someone else’s life for the better. You don’t need to be in prison to have this apply.

Be still. Listen to your heart. Look around you. There is a reason you are exactly where you are. You have a purpose, a reason for being. Take a moment…and BE!

DAILY GRIND – from The Prisoner’s Prayer Book

I sit at my desk, beads of sweat rolling down my face.  I hear the steady blast of large fans in the dayroom.  My own fan moves the air in my room much more gently.  The ketunk ketunk of the ping pong ball is an almost constant sound throughout the day and early night.  Monotonous sounds.  Dull, just as my life behind these walls.  Each day, each night are always the same.

I know I must serve my time to pay for all the wrongs I have done, but Lord, let me use this time for good.  Father, help me to see past the ordinary.  Help me to recognize Your hand at work – yes, even in this prison.  Help me to appreciate little things that I would otherwise not notice.  Help me to take the time to stop to help someone in need. Make me stop to listen to a fellow prisoner who wants to talk.

Grant me eyes to see You in others, Lord, and ears to hear You speak.  Let my words be loving words.  Guide my feet to remain on the path that You
have set, oh Lord.  Protect me from the evil that surrounds me.  Allow me, Lord, to live a life that is anything but ordinary.