#114 Prison talk: does hope exist?

March 31, 2010 at 4:35 pm 2 comments

Prison Talk: Does Hope exist?

This blog is on the heels of some emails I got, and a blog I just finished a few minutes ago. If you are not reading this off my blog, then you probably missed a few things, you might want to go back and check it out.

I want to talk about a question a person asked me in an email a day or so ago, one I want to do my best to address here. And she asked a very good question, because for thousands and thousands of you out there, the question of hope is indeed a legit one. Is there such a thing as hope when you have a loved one in prison, or going to prison? Is there such a thing as hope if YOU might be faced with doing prison time?

I want to talk about that today, and before I continue, my thanks for a couple of people who emailed me and asked to support my writings, I do appreciate that a lot. Second, if you are not sympathetic to prison writings, or if you believe that every person who goes to prison is worthless…stop reading my blogs and get out!

This blog is NOT for those people, this blog, and what I write, is an attempt to help those who have fallen, or have loved ones who have fallen, and are trying to get through a difficult situation. Nobody asked you for your penniless opinions on judging and condemning others, take that to another site.

Now, let’s talk about hope.

I want to address this in two forms: hope with a loved one in prison and hope when you yourself might be facing prison time. This is based on some emails I got, and I want to try to address this to those people that are looking for some hope.

So…do I truly believe in hope…as far as prison issues are concerned?

Hope defined is “a feeling of expectation and desire combined; a desire for certain events to happen”.

Stop for a moment and go back to that definition, and read it again.

Now….read it again.

If you ask me if I truly believe in hope, you are then asking me if I desire certain things to happen…if I have an expectation for something to happen. Consider folks, if it is my desire, then it is something GOOD that I want to happen.

Don’t we ALL desire good?

Mind you, we are keeping in context of prison issues, but in this genre, don’t we all desire something good? No matter how bad things look now, don’t we desire, or even expect things to get better, to change from a bad situation to a more desirable one?

I know I do.

So the answer to the question about whether I truly believe there is hope is an easy one to answer…absolutely. I DO believe that things can get better, and I guess deep inside, I expect it to change. As an ex felon, I have blogged for years about how difficult it is to try to find a living with a record, in a so-called forgiving society. Sometimes we as Americans are so foolish because we like to keep bring up somebody’s past.

Quick example, a few weeks ago, a college basketball player made the headlines when she slugged another player. Many of the so called sports analysts felt that she should be suspended not just for the rest of the season, but all of next year too. But by NCAA rules, she can be suspended a full game. Her coach suspended her for 2 games. Many people were outraged, but this IS the rule. So many people wanted that “knee jerk” condemnation, based only on 5 seconds of video, not knowing this young girl.

The player is actually a very good basketball player, and of late she has done a very good job and is trying to put that incident behind her. Her team is in the Final Four, and yesterday when asked how well she was playing, one jerk commented that in his opinion she should not be playing there because HE felt she should have been suspended the rest of the year.

Proof that morons work in the sports industry too…so much for a forgiving country.

But the same applies in triplicate when it comes to prison issues. All the more reason for us to hope. Do I believe that there can be hope…absolutely. But perhaps that isn’t the real question.

The real question is, how can we make hope a reality.

The question folks, isn’t whether we desire a change in events, every person that reads these blogs with a loved one in prison has that hope…it clearly is there…otherwise you would not be reading anything off a prison support site or my blogs…unless you’re just plain nosey.

Having hope is not the question folks…whether you are hoping for your loved one to be safe and return home, or whether you are worried about doing prison time. The issue isn’t having hope…you already have it.

I say again…you already HAVE hope.

The issue is how to use that hope to change your circumstances for a more desirable outcome. This is something we all have to work on…myself included.

We can address hope in three areas as far as prison issues: hope for a loved one in prison, hope of one fearing going to prison, and hope for one who has been to prison. But in each situation, remember that the question isn’t about whether there IS hope…remember, you already have that. The question is how to get hold of it and make it more of a reality, rather than just a wish.

Let’s start first with the fear of going to prison, because I have a few readers that email me on this. One of them is a dear reader, and it is important for her to know that there IS hope…but to be honest, this isn’t enough.

It’s not enough to just believe that things MIGHT get better. Hope is an expectation or desire. You hope that things can change. But one of the biggest obstacles we have when it comes to hope is our human senses…mainly sight.

The problem with hope is that it is based on what you cannot see, and reality is based on what you see. In my friend’s case, she is worried about going to prison, and let me say this now, I don’t CARE what the charge is, its none of YOUR business either, the bottom line is that she is concerned about her life and future, and its not your place to try to read between the lines and judge her. That’s our problem anyway, too many people act like they were God-ordained to judge everybody else.

So the problem we have is that we look at circumstances and when those circumstances happen, we make a mental and spiritual choice…which do we choose to believe. Do we choose to continue to hope…or do we start to believe that the bad circumstances are what dictates the situation. You realize you DO have some choice in the matter.

The average person won’t believe this, mainly because they don’t have faith. And when I say that, this does not mean that you are on the top 100 of “most faithful” people in town. If hope is indeed based on a belief, then so is faith. Neither can be seen or touched, yet many people look for hope in hopeless situations. For the person who is afraid of going to prison, and looking for hope, my answer to that is that you already HAVE hope…but if you allow the negative circumstances to dictate your life, then you are not hoping anymore…you are wishing.

You may call me a fool for thinking that a person can change negative situations to a positive one, but I have been there before folks. I have seen hope established…its called a miracle. I have had more than one in my life, and I hope…(smile) to see more.

But to get to that point, to get to where a person fearing going to prison can change that situation, requires holding on to hope, and having faith in a source. My friend made a very interesting comment in her email to me. No question she is going through a very tough time, but she asked me, “Will God help me? IS God helping me?”

Take it from a guy that has asked that question 4.8 Billion times, I know how she feels. When you are fearing going to prison, you wonder if God is really paying attention to you, and IF He will answer. But most times this feeling comes because we can’t see what God is doing, and the natural body assumes that nothing is happening. After all, if we can’t SEE it, then how do we know that God is doing anything? What if He decided to just let you “tough it out”?

But this isn’t where your hope lies, is it? You hope that despite all the things that has gone wrong, that ultimately God will have mercy and help you in your time of need. I mean, how many scriptures are in the Bible about how God has mercy, how He answers prayers and things like that? Nowhere in the Bible did it say that God will do a background check and see if you are perfect or not. Man does that…God does not.

So in such a situation, you hope needs to remain in the unseen God, because after all, hope and faith are invisible to the human eye…but not the spiritual. You know the scripture, “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen”.

That means if you have hope, and faith, there is evidence that things can change. There is a substance that you can rely on, even if you can’t see it. Our problems as people is that we want to see it before we can believe it…that’s not hope folks… that’s wishing. Have faith that your hope is still as evident as it ever was, and don’t back off it.

So what if you have someone in prison. How does hope help you if your loved one is already in prison? Well, the idea is slightly different, but still there. The focus is not on whether he will or won’t go, the focus is now that he is in, but you are hopeful for a better outcome.

So ask yourself this, what are you hoping for? Hope is kinda like a glass, of which you can fill with any number of drinks. Or, let’s put it this way. Right now I am home, typing on this computer, and I have an empty glass beside me. In the refrigerator are a bunch of things I can drink, if I so desired.

I can have some milk, some apple juice, some water, or I can even take a can of Coca-Cola out and pour it in the glass. Any desire I want of those I can have right now. But I can’t have a glass of orange juice…why? Because there is none in the refrigerator. Now, if I REALLY wanted some, I can go to the store and get some, but as of this moment, my hope in having orange juice now is very little. But in any case, until I fill that glass with something, I can’t have anything to drink. For me to fulfill my hope, my desire, I have to put it into action…meaning I need to put something in that glass for me to drink.

When you think about hope, ask yourself this question, what am I hoping for? Its not enough to just hope, that is empty thinking. Get a desire, an expectation in your mind about what you are hoping for. Are you hoping that your loved one will change? Are you hoping he will be able to make a good transition when he gets out? In either case, you are defining what you desire…remember folks, you HAVE hope, its now a matter of how to apply it.

Are you hoping that he will change? If so, what is that hope based on? Are you just hoping that the prison experience will change him…cause if you are, you might want to consider a secondary plan. Sadly, prisons don’t rehabilitate people nearly as much as society thinks.

So in such a case, what are basing your hope on? How much are you involved in this desirable change? Ask yourself, what are you doing to keep him encouraged? See, lots of people sit at home and worry about whether a loved one will change, when in most cases they are only investing fear in the situation. I understand that many guys who go to prison don’t change, and yes, much of the fault lies on them, but we cannot be ignorant to think that there are outside influences as well. Folks, you may not believe this, but a 30 year old man can be influenced by others just as much as a 5 year old kid. No human is an island, every action by others has an effect, positive or negative, on another human being.

So it makes sense that what you say to a loved one in prison has an effect on him. If you are hoping he will change, then you have to make a serious and sincere effort to keep him encouraged, positive and in a constructive way of thinking. When an person sees a real hope, a chance to change, he is going to desire it. Nobody WANTS to go to prison folks, but often times we make mistakes.

Invest in your hope by making a strong effort to keep him positive. Try not to emphasize how much you worry about him…this is actually negative conversation and many people do this without even knowing it. How many times have you said to your loved one:

“I miss you so much, I just wish you were home. I was up all last night worrying about you, I just keep counting the days until you come home.”

See…that SOUNDS encouraging…but it isn’t.

“Why not? Didn’t that message say how much he is loved and missed?”

Yeah it did, but what is the overall tone in that message…fear. If you are going to invest in your hope that he will change, give him something to stand on. He is surrounded by negativity 24 hours a day, he needs a positive venue to build him up.

“Then how would YOU write it?”

I might say something like this:

“I miss you, but I want you to know that I am doing fine and I will continue to be fine as long as you hang in there. We’re gonna get through this together ok. I need you to stay positive and do your best to hang in there, and I will do the same. Some days I slip and feel discouraged, like you probably do at times, but I am not going to let that stop me from believing in you.”

See how strong that sounds? There is a more powerful sense of hope, one that the person is not willing to let go of. If you are hoping for a loved one to change, dig your hands in the earth of hope, grab some of that positive and encouraging words, and take hold. This is the reason why I made a bunch of the prison encouragement certificates and prison cards, for those looking to keep hope going for a loved one in prison.

And what if you are hoping that he makes a successful transition after he gets out? The same thing applies. What are you basing your hope on? If you are hoping that maybe somebody will hire him after he gets out, then it is wishful thinking. If you are investing the hope, then lay hands on it and make the circumstances change for a better expectation. Talk to people in town to see if they would hire your loved one, prepare resume to send out for him, get him to take any classes he can to better his skills, whether Human Resource Classes, or even technical classes like Computer, HVAC or other classes. Many prisons do offer those.

Help to get him prepared as best you can, and it will minimize the fear. Understand folks, if you have a great fear in this, then hope is weak. Its normal to HAVE fear, because we are human, but your sense of hope, that sense of a better circumstance, has to be stronger than the fear. The fear will grip you and make you do nothing but worry…hope will have you taking charge, to find venues to help your loved one make that transition. It gives you a purpose, which empowers you, rather than fear, which robs you of your power.

Now, what of hope AFTER a person has done his time? I already talked a bit about that, but I can use myself as an example. I have hopes and dreams, no different from anybody else. I was watching a show I think on Discovery about “most expensive rides”, and they were talking about a Ferrari limo…one I had never seen before, because it is a one of a kind. I drooled over it, dreaming that one day I could be prosperous to be able to enjoy the good things in life.

Its frustrating when you’ve done your time, served your debt to society, but still just as condemned as when you first went in prison. Most of you know my story if you have followed my blogs for the last few years. My hope was to try to start a business in prison writing, and write books, make cards, encouragement certificates and other things to generate an income, but to also allow myself to make my services of prison writing available to those who needed it.

That was NOT my original goal, because if you had told me while I was in prison that I would be writing prison blogs, I would have laughed you to scorn. But what I have found in the last several years is that there indeed is a need for someone to do this, and while there are some prison support sites, they don’t have dedicated writers that can write with sincerity and constructive views.

My hope was to write my “Grades of Honor” books, of which I have 3 of, to write prison cards, which I had about 100 of, and to make prison encouragement certificates, of which I had over 50 different kinds of. The idea was simple, earn a living doing prison writing, with support from good readers, and create a revenue for myself why helping others.

There were times where I was getting some pretty good support, but there were also times where nothing was going right. More than once over the past 8 years have I stopped writing, and pulled all my blogs offline. But months later, when people ask me about my blogs or ask for some help, I end up starting up again.

My hope is based on the fact that there are thousands and thousands of people with loved ones in prison. If ever there will be a support base for me to continue to help them, then it should come from this. Some of my blogs are on blog sites that have ads all over it…those guys make money when I post…I don’t get anything. I can’t argue because it’s their site, and for me to get the exposure, I need to blog.

But its when people email me and ask about support my blogs that I see the hope becoming more of a reality. If I have blogged the last 4 years and never got a bit of support, then there would be a strong sense that what I am doing is foolish, and likely wishful thinking. But I HAVE received support for what I do. The idea is to get it more consistent than sparse.

I have sold my books, cards and encouragement certificates to many people, sometimes, when I have money to spare, I make some free offers to limited people. When things are going decent, I am in a position to give more back. I have received financial support from mothers, wives, grandmothers, ex felons, and others. From Canada to California, to Florida, New York and points in between. I am convinced that there is a strong support base for me to continue to do what I do. It has to be true, because I keep coming back here to blog again…its either that or insanity.

So I believe there IS hope, in every situation involving prison issues. We all HAVE hope, that is not the question. The question is, what are you doing to preserve it, and what is your hope embedded in?

Oh well, I’ve blogged enough today, I gotta get back to those emails and answer them. Feel free to make a nice comment, or email me when you can. Until then….


Entry filed under: girlfriends with boyfriends in prison, God and prison, inmates, jail, LostVault, mothers with sons in prison, prison, prison abuse, prison blogs, prison books, prison cards, prison food, prison jobs, prison mail, prison pen pals, prison support sites, Prison Talk Online, Prisonbid, rehabilitation, son in prison.

#113 Prison concerns from the outside #115 Cleaning Prison bathrooms (retro)

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. jules966  |  March 31, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    I guess I’ve been writing fearful letters to both my son & my Fiancee. I constantly say “I miss you, worry about you & can’t wait til you come home” but I also say stay strong, we can make it through this. I really need your email…

  • 2. nolaw97  |  May 1, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Hi there, to anyone needing to email me, I am using a broken email, but if you put it together, you can figure it out. it is derf4000 at embarqmail DOT com.


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