One of the biggest decisions anyone can ever make in their lives is are we willing to adapt to a change in lifestyle?
Can I make the transition?
Are you able to step up?
Can I graduate to the next level?
Do I know what got me to this place - was it by good or bad choices?
Yes, questions, questions… life is full of them. We look at the devastation of one person who decides to take the lives of other innocent people in the name of whichever God that they opted to follow. When I was a boy, my parents taught me the difference between right and wrong. That didn’t help me when I found myself standing guard for my best mate whilst he was taking some apples from a neighbour’s tree. Little did I know a few things that night - my ‘friend’ had done this before, along with a number of other things… the neighbour was on the look out for the reason that his apples were going missing… I learned a big lesson that night… as well as which of my next actions would control the next stage of my life.
The story is continued… the neighbour locked his gate and came around the the back fence to find one of the culprits - ME! My friend took a hike over a few fences, not to be seen again, for a while at least. I was taken home and threatened with the police, that was a sufficient warning. My parents weren’t too pleased but gave me a choice - either stop now or suffer the long term consequences. My ‘friend’ came to see me the next morning… desperate to know if I had given him away. No, I can be trusted even if I wanted to tell. It turned out that he was on a third strike and you’re out with the police which would have resulted in Juvenile detention.
Well, I changed and decided that that one incident was not going to control my life. I kept a friend but I controlled what we did in the future. Is it all about control? Yes, if you want to change that’s what it takes.
Is it willpower?
Do we have that within us to keep away from destruction? Destruction!!! What am I saying?
It can’t be as bad as that?
I believe, it is.
A decision to sell drugs to kids outside the school yard covers both aspects the destruction of young lives which may never be corrected and the destruction of your life spiralling into abuse and a life of avoiding the law.
Too big a shift? To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.
Would a young wounded soldier lying in a remote hospital bed when the end of World War 1 was announced be happy or sad? Many millions would have been thrilled to get back to their families - they were glad for the change. One such young corporal only felt hatred, for the abject and foolish surrender of his leaders. Adolf Hitler decided on a one man crusade to change all of that and changed the hearts and minds of millions of others who were willing to follow.
Again, is this too extreme and example?
Hitler’s opposition was Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of the UK. He decided to take back the control of the enemy and change the hearts and minds of the British people. He was quoted as saying to improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.
No-one is looking to be perfect but there is a time that we have to take back control of our lives and not follow the forceful or deceptive ways of others. The Correctional system is crammed with inmates who need to take back control of their circumstances. We are part of a group of agencies who work on Restoring Justice to the offender. This is not to agree with whether they were unjustly convicted but to enable true justice to reign their lives. We all need positives influences to take back control of our futures, how else are we to progress?
We see inmates who know what they need to restore their lives but are unwilling to change. The importance is that everyone needs to change or re-correct our situations when things go wrong. The key is to ensure that we see the signs in advance and correct. With the help of others, we have seen many lives changed for the better when they partner with mentors or guides. Am I exaggerating when I say that my apple stealing episode could have led into a life of crime?
How small does a decision have to be to be proved a wrong one?
Conversely, the prophet, Jeremiah, stated that we should not resent the day of small beginnings. What that says to me is that against a tide and years of abuse or crime, one small change, one seemingly irrelevant meeting can change our lives. Look back on the time when your life changed in the same way, now pray that the inmates, the offenders can see the same opportunity to take back control of their lives.