Two posts ago, in Decisions, Decisions (Life On The Inside – Part 4), I shared that I had a decision to make concerning a program offered at another institution. When I wrote that posting I said I’d have made my decision by the time you read the post. That turned out to be wrong. Today, April 15, I made the decision. Why did it take so long to make my decision? Reservations on my part mostly having to do with things other than the program.
My biggest reservation has to do with the fact that it has taken my two years to carve out a ‘life’ within this institution. Putting together a circle of acquaintances and friends is not easy for me. I’m introverted, and I am not the one to walk up to someone and introduce myself and then make small talk which would lead to making a new acquaintance or friend. When I think of my small circle of people here they are primarily those who either approached me or introduced me to someone with whom I might share something in common.
Next is a fear that I will be put into an unsatisfactory living situation. When I first came where I am today I was placed in a cube with a ‘hater’ who also happened to be the primary drug supplier for my housing unit. A ‘hater’ is someone who, because of your crime, hates on you with verbal abuse and, in extreme cases, physical assault. The one I was placed with was verbally abusive and threatened to have me beat up by those in the unit who relied on him for their drug fix. Of course, I alerted the unit counselor of the situation asking him to move me before anything happened but he left me there for a month to the day. During that month I lived in fear for my safety while putting up with name calling and insults as well as the exclamations of hatred and predicted harm if I didn’t move out. That experience has kind of scared me. (You can read more about that situation in Love Thy Enemy and Love Thy Enemy – Concludes.)
After this come the more minor fears such as finding a decent job in the new institution, learning the policies and procedures, using the showers per inmate standards, finding radio stations and programs, establishing an exercise routine, and the list goes on.
Imagine being plucked from the society in which you now live and being dropped into a whole new society, culture, and geography. If you sat and contemplated this in its fullest measure you’d have an idea of what an inmate faces when changing institutions.
Having said all this, you might think I’ve decided against applying for the program – but no, I’m turning in my application this coming Wednesday, the 18th. Why did I decide to do this?
In talking about the program and its benefits with my wife, while also sharing my reservations and fears, she said she’d support me whatever I chose to do. However, she also shared a perspective I had not considered: Maybe I was actually more afraid of change in general. I had to admit to myself that yes, change does frighten me because with change comes some loss of control and comfort borne of familiarity. She also pointed out that my Parole Officer may look on someone coming out of the program more favorably than someone coming out of general population who hadn’t made the effort to better themselves. My wife is wise and observant.
Secondly, I’ve been praying for the Holy Spirit to talk to me and give me guidance in my decision, and I believe it has come in two ways.
The first way is through my study Bible. I’m reading Colossians and the way my Bible is laid out is the top half of the page is the Bible passages and the bottom half is made up of teaching notes about the verses above. Well, the teaching notes recently have been about trusting God and knowing that through Him all things are possible. So, I’ve decided to put it in God’s hands because there’s a chance I won’t be accepted.
The second way happened yesterday as I walked the track. I was walking along contemplating my decision and literally asking for the Holy Spirit to talk to me; to make it obvious to me what I was to do. As I thought this, a guy I know only by sight and name came up behind me and put his arm around me. As he did this he said, “Have you put your name in for the Life Connection Program yet?” I was dumb founded. I asked him how he knew I was thinking about it and he said, “I didn’t but you’re a spiritual person, so I figured you’d be interested.” I’ve spoke to this guy maybe a half dozen times and there he was, putting his arm around me, and in essence, telling me to do it – in fact his last comment was, “Better pull the trigger on that,” as he walked away. Couldn’t be more obvious could it? Doesn’t that sound like the Holy Spirit speaking to me through others?
Finally, making this move would put me within a half hour of my two oldest children, within two hours of my youngest child and shave three hours off my wife and mother’s drive to visit me, while also saving money in travel expenses. Sadly, it will add three hours onto my sister’s drive to see me which does sadden me for she’ll go from half a day’s drive to all day.
So there you have it, my process for making my decision. I’d be interested in your stories of difficult decision making and whether you felt God had interceded by given you a sign in some form.
As things progress around this I’ll keep you informed.
My advice: Listen, for God does speak to you.