#135 Prison Christian…the oxymoron (retro)

April 12, 2010 at 1:30 am Leave a comment

Prison Christian…the greatest oxymoron.

Close to noon on a Sunday morning, wanted to try to get something written for this blog. I want to share something with you in a moment, but I am kinda remembering something that happened last night.

A couple of us went to Burger King to get something to eat. We made our order and after waiting for the food, we checked our bags to make sure that we had what we ordered. There was 3 of us, but the food in the bag was for more than that.

They messed up the order. But it was in our favor….so we left.

WHAT???

Yeah, we left, with the error in our favor. We didn’t tell them, we left with our food, got back to the house to find there was an extra burger and fries… to which I took care of (yum).

I say that because I remember in high school a teacher told us that being a Christian means being honest 100% of the time. Even to the point that if you put money in a soda machine to get a one soda, but TWO falls out, you are supposed to leave that second one there and take only what you bought.

That is pure honesty…but it is not realistic.

This is a pinhole of a point that when people look at inmates, they look at the idea that these guys are forever flawed, and have no real use to society. The stigma of being an inmate is forever marked on that person, and even “Christians” have a hard time accepting them.

It’s almost like there is no such thing as a Christian ex felon….

Well… IS there?

Many people believe that maybe that can’t be true, after all, if you were a REAL Christian, you would never have ended up in jail or prison, or broken the law.

As if YOU never made a mistake.

How many of you would have walked out of Burger King if the same thing happened to you? If you ordered the #4 combo, and got an burger, would you go back and tell them that they messed up your order, and you’d like to give the extra burger back?

Ok, some of you would, and I admit maybe I would too…sometimes. But more times than not, if the error is in my favor, it’s going with me. Sounds dishonest, right? Well, sorry about that, but I am no saint, nor did I ever apply to be one.

But that does not mean I am without a heart, I think I wanted to prove that no one is perfect, so there is no perfect Christian. But I wanted to share something I wrote in my journal awhile back. This piece has a lot to do with an inmate and his faith. I wrote this journal on July 27th of 2001, while I was at Dan River Prison Work Farm, in Yanceyville, North Carolina. Let me share this first, then discuss it with you:

July 27th- 9:30 pm (count time) After the last several hours, I feel a bit ashamed for myself. Earlier I felt so depressed and down, and I wondered the need of believing in prosperity when I was the only one not prospering today. Today, at the end of the day, I managed to get 3 certificates sold (by Horne) and I got a dollar from a debt. So now I got $3.05 and a razor. Moreover, I called home to find out that mom DID send me paper and money.

I feel like a spiritual heel for not holding on like I should. It might appear that I can talk the talk the talk, but I have a difficulty walking the walk. It’s embarrassing, but I’ve got to tell God about it.

But why does that happen? Too often the second I start slipping on my promises, God holds me with His hand. I try and try to be strong in faith, but sometimes it overcomes me and I begin to doubt. But when it happens God is faithful not to let me fall flat on the ground. Indeed I’m very grateful, but will I do this every time the floods get too high?

And yet, is it better to just give up and accelerate the promise, as it seems to work? To cry like a baby who fell after taking his first few steps and have the parent rush quickly to pick me up? That’s what it appears to be. But God has promised great things, how can I possibly turn away from that?

Oh well, my show comes on in an hour 20 minutes, I’ll have to be prepared. While God had already answered my prayers, I was starting to fall back. I cannot do that, I just can’t. I’ve got to toughen up, and to be more determined to stay in faith, to resist doubt and unbelief.

So I start again, building my faith from scratch. I’ve got to continue to pray, praise and believe. Funny, had I ended the day with no money, my disposition would be bad, or worse. I’m supposed to stay in faith, but reality is a strong buffer. If this was a test, I would have made a 70- a D in most standards. I’m trying for a 100- perfect, like the tests I take at Roxboro. In time I still believe I’ll make it.

(end of journal)

I don’t know how many people share intimate thoughts from prison, but if you have read my “Grades of Honor”, or most of my posts and entries, you know that I tend to get as deep inside of my thoughts as I can. And it might be real strange for some of you to read something like that. Why? Don’t you believe inmates can have faith?

Or do you believe they don’t deserve to believe in God?

I think people don’t really believe in an inmate who really believes in God. I think most people think inmates who believe in God are looking for mercy for breaking the law. While there certainly may be truth in that, does this assume that if you are NOT in jail or prison, you don’t have to ask for mercy?

Get real.

By no means have I ever tried to put on a halo, because I have been on both sides of this magic potion called faith. I have seen it work for me, but I have also abandoned it entirely. I have raged against God and every holy figure in heaven, and I have also praised Him and His Son.

I know what it is like to have and lose faith. As an inmate, you experience both… at least I did. And you know, I don’t expect you guys to fully understand what I am saying, some of you “hard core” Christians will defend God to the hilt, to which I say “stop defending God, He does not need your help”.

But throughout most of my incarceration, I did a lot of reading of almost any prison ministry that would send me a letter, book, magazine or booklet. I poured over tons of books about faith, and tried to apply it to my prison life. I mean, if God said it, why can’t He do it, if He is supposed to be all that kinda powerful?

And while in prison, I did my level best to hang in there, writing many journal entries about my faith, most of which I have never shared online. I wasn’t running around prison grabbing people to take to a prayer circle on the yard. That wasn’t something I wanted to do, nor did I need to do. I didn’t want anyone assuming that I had to go to their prayer circle either.

But there were times I felt that God was nothing more than a joke. I said this before on other posts, but I actually was more prosperous in prison when I hated God than when I believed in Him.

“That is blasphemy!!”

Oh shut up, He already knows how I felt! What I am trying to do is share how a human being can feel when put in the worst days of his life, and how he tries to hang in there, trusting God when he can….but SOMETIMES falling down on his faith.

So stop trying so high and mighty, and come down to earth a bit!

Look, I never said I was a perfect Christian, nor will I ever be, but when you are fighting negative emotions in prison, it will drain you of your human strength. I never met a guy that was dancing all through his incarceration, but I did meet a lot of guys that didn’t seem to be totally unphased because they were in prison.

Same with me. I made a promise to myself to not fall apart to other inmates. That meant that I tried to carry myself in the most positive way possible. That meant also being positive to others in deed, not just word. No, I was not perfect, but I did the best I could. No different in my faith in God. I was not perfect, so there were times I fell. When I first went to prison, I gave up on God because I felt He failed me, otherwise I would have never gone to prison. During that time, I had a good amount of money for canteen, I had a good job in prison, good guys around me, and to be honest, the prison life wasn’t bad… all things considering.

But once I started believing in God, the “good life” was gone, and I had tribulations ever since, being kicked out of several prisons, getting writups, thrown in seg for false statements by a warden and other officers, and numerous other things that I hope to eventually pull out in my “Grades of Honor” projects.

It would seem that I was better off without God.

……………………….excuse me, I had to really think about that last statement….

I wonder how much I would have written on any prison support site if I had not gone through what I went through. Because I love writing, I am sure I would have written something… but would it have been as much as I have currently written?

Was it possible that I had to go through what I went through to be in a position to talk about it? Was this some kinda insane plan by God? I mean, before I put my faith back in God, my incarceration was very smooth, almost no troubles at all. You guys need to check out what I wrote in my first few projects. When I first went to prison, I was in a total culture shock. At that time I gave up on God, and for the first few weeks, my life was miserable.

But then things started to fall in place, and life for me in prison was actually getting better…almost…fun. (don’t get confused on that term folks). But I started to think that my prosperity was based on God having mercy, so I began to think that maybe I should give God another chance, so I went back to reading the Bible, writing to prison ministries and the such…

Then life in prison got hard.

Kinda like a sucker punch.

If I ever finish my “Grades of Honor” it will probably be over 1000 pages, probably more than that. I have already done parts 1, 2 and 3, which total almost 300 pages. And that only covers the first 6 months of my incarceration.

So I guess you have to wonder, is there really such a thing as a prisoner who is a Christian? Or am I fooling myself, thinking that God can really have mercy on a poor fool like myself? Am I writing all these entries to “make up” for my sins, or is God using me as a tool to help people who have nowhere else to turn to?

I really don’t know.

I know that I love writing, I know that I wrote lots of journals while in prison, I know that my heart tells me that there are millions of people out there that need to know what goes on in prison, from someone who was REALLY inside those walls. And there is a gentle addiction for me to get up here and write about prison issues, both inside and outside the walls.

I have written literally several THOUSAND pages of this kinda stuff. You think I am kidding? Go to PTO and look under “masonik4” and “Nolaw97” and see how many posts I have put up there…close to 1300. None of that copy and paste crap of “hi and welcome”, most of my posts are over 2 pages long, some as many as 4 pages. That is well over 2500 pages of writing.

Add in all the yahoo prison groups I wrote for, and other places like Prisonbid, Mothers with Sons in Prison, and numerous other places I can’t remember anymore (or don’t give a damn about, since some of those jackasses banned me), and you’re talking about at least another 500 pages.

Add that to this blog, which is actually my THIRD prison blog. There is almost 600 pages of writing here alone, and my first blog probably had about 500 pages, my second blog probably about 100 or so. That’s another 1100 pages.

My Grades of Honor books have just under 300 pages total, but I also have numerous other offline prison documents, which is easily about another 300 pages.

Add in all the emails I received and answered, and all the cards, certificates and other things I have written…all to help others. Probably close to about 8000 pages I have written… and counting.

So ask me again if I am doing this to make up for something, or if God has put this in my heart?

Because I don’t really know. But it is NOT to make up for some sin, I didn’t do anything to require such a punishment of writing thousands of pages about prison. Mind you as well, I LIKE writing, so this isn’t really a punishment, is it?

Oh well, I may never understand it, I wish I could. But when I go back to some of those prison sites and read all those people who are thankful for what I wrote, I start to understand that maybe this foolish think I do isn’t so foolish after all.

Maybe God found a soul that cares about inmates, and found a use for him… even if it was against that person’s carnal will. Maybe God, in all His wisdom, knew what He was doing all along. I mean, after all, how many people have read my writings? How many got some help, or a little bit of comfort? These writings could never have come from a person who has never been inside prison. And these writings could have never come from a person who didn’t know how to write. The two had to be combined, and maybe God saw that I could do it…

Even if I never asked to do it.

Unwilling in flesh, willing in spirit…

Talk about an oxymoron……….

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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.

#134 What if he WAS innocent? #136 Hitting rock bottom (retro)

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