After I had spent a few months in county jail, my awesome wife Sheila sent me a book called the change agent. The author describes how prison/jail can change a person. He uses 3 items to express this. A carrot, an egg, and a coffee bean. What happens to each of these items once they are put into “hot” water? Hot being a way to describe the atmosphere one would experience being incarcerated. The carrot becomes soft, like the way someone would become passive, easily pushed around. The egg becomes hard, like the way someone would become bitter, angry, and easily agitated. I’ve seen both of these. When the coffee bean is put into the water something else happens, the water changes into coffee. The atmosphere changes, not the item. I have done my best to be like the coffee bean. I stay true to myself and steer away from potential problems. If I remain focused on myself and my future then the atmosphere will not change me. The difficult part is the heavy weight of shame, guilt, and anger that feels like chains wrapped around me. Dragging me down to the bottom of the dark sea. I am constantly called by my sin and not my name. “Terrorist” the fingers point to me and it feels like a razor-sharp blade going straight into my heart. I know who I am. I know who I am. Some days are harder than others, but one thing remains the constant reminder. I am forgiven. My God knows my heart.
I have noticed at the 3 different facilities that I have been at, that I have had some influence on the atmosphere. In all 3 locations, I have seen it change right before me. The segregation or “politics” as it’s called inside prison/jail attempts to prevent people of different races from intermixing. Although those lines are blurred if another race or “car” as it’s known, are doing “business”. Here in a Low-security facility, it’s at the tamest level of “politics” but still very present. Here in this facility, a certain group of offenders are shunned. I chose to not be a part of their game and run alone, but I found out almost instantly that I’m not alone. I’ve met some really good-hearted men here that offer to make my transition into prison as easy as possible. I found Christian brothers that are seeking God. I had found a few in the county and then in Victorville, but I had let my fears tip the scale and wasn’t looking for them. I will remain focused on my future by removing the “rearview mirror” so I only see what’s in front of me. Everyday that I wake up, I think about the book and how I can carry myself inside these walls. I strive to always be true to myself and to change the environment around me. Always the coffee bean…
Your brother in Christ,