My observation to share with you today is that expectations can change a life. If your reaction to this statement is disbelief, simply think about it. Words alone can empower a person, or defeat them. I bet every one of you remember at least one comment that was made while you were growing up. It may have been something like, “You’re fat,” or, “How I wish you could be more like ____ (fill in the blank).” Worse yet, “You’ll never amount to anything!” These, often cruel, taunts (often by peers) remain with us for life. They surface when we are tired, depressed, or feeling defeated. From somewhere deep inside, we can hear a little voice from the past reminding us that we are still that same person. When we hear negatives like the comments above, especially when we hear them again and again, we begin to believe it to be true. We begin to believe the worst about ourselves.

Again, think back. If you were fortunate enough to have someone in your life who encouraged you, who spoke positive things about you, aren’t those the voices you want to remember when life seems at its worst? It doesn’t matter what color you are – this is a universal truth, the world over.

It is my opinion that there is a huge need within the prison system for a focus on rehabilitation. Too often, I hear comments like “They deserve it” or “Just throw away the key.” Sadly, people often live up to our expectations of them. If we constantly expect the worse, too often that is exactly what we receive. There are some, unfortunately, who won’t allow themselves to receive good things. But I urge you to keep encouraging them. Human nature responds to encouragement. Through our words alone, we have the power to make the world a much better place. Let us use that power. Today. Today, throw someone a lifeline and save them! It can happen.

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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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