Pondering the Past

I’ve heard that hindsight is “twenty-twenty.” I’d concur with that because if we had the ability to have such insight ahead of time, we’d realize so much sooner that God really does have a Master Plan. Regardless of whether or not we see purpose in each day’s events, they do indeed seem to happen for a reason.

I saw a question posed recently that asked “which ten books have remained with you?” As my mind wandered around this question, I found myself pondering my job history as well and why they all happened. Books and jobs taught me so much about myself. They molded me into the person I am today.

The Diary of Anne Frank and several books by Dr. Thomas Dooley probably had the most impact on me early on. Each of those books opened my eyes to man’s inhumanity to man. I didn’t understand how our own species could treat other human beings so horribly. Growing up in the 1960’s I also saw prejudice and discrimination right in my own backyard, and I observed beggars on the streets of downtown – begging amidst the often unheeding bustle of businessmen and women and shoppers.

As my work history grew, I gained experience working with developmentally disabled, mentally ill, physically handicapped, drug users, patients in hospitals and nursing homes, the poor, and the homeless. Once again, within my immediate surroundings I encountered gay and lesbian individuals, the emotionally struggling, alcoholics, and others who were spiritually broken.

When I look back now, it seems to have been a very thorough education in Life and Brokenness. It also was great preparation for relating to prisoners who, in one way or another, have more than likely encountered at least one of those conditions. I may never have been a drug user, discriminated against,  hungry, or homeless but I now know people who were.

And now I worship with prisoners.

I’ve questioned myself, and God as well, wondering what I might have to offer prisoners? I think I now know the answer. I had great parents, a good education, and many positives in my life growing up. I have seen where those things lead, and where lives go without them. I enjoy getting to know peoples’ stories. I’m eager to listen, to encourage, and to believe in others. I have learned that, too often, that may have been all they ever needed…but never had. Whatever my presence lends to their lives, this journey has opened my eyes and my heart to so many – and my soul feeds on that!

I am thankful to have been shown life’s hills and valleys. I have been able to open my heart to many whose lives have been less satisfying and more challenging than mine. Best of all, I get to be a part of lives that have been discarded or rejected by others. Yes…God did indeed have a Master Plan, and He even provided a most thorough educational opportunity for me! I am indeed blessed.

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The Prisoner's Prayer Book

Louise is author of The Prisoner's Prayer Book which evolved as she became a volunteer in prison ministry. Retired from a career in social services, Louise resides in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

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