A Prisoner’s Story

by Offender X

Before I turned my life over to God I was a troubled person. Not necessarily bad, in fact I was actually quite popular around my hometown. But with no regard for popularity, I always felt empty and continuously found myself seeking something to fill that void.

Growing up, I was raised Catholic. My father was even my Sunday School teacher. So, from early in my life, I knew about God. I also attended Mass just about every Sunday. Even with that, I never truly understood what it was to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I’d be physically present on Sundays and even with my family for our prayer times, but because that was not where my interest lay, I was emotionally and spiritually disconnected. My act of worship as a child was not an option, it was like a job I was forced to do for a time and then once it was over I would return to the “real world”. In not understanding the value in what I was experiencing, I felt that nagging void’s presence every day. And like a lot of people, I tried filling it with drinking, using drugs, friends, and sex. While living this lifestyle I became a magnet for people. I was able to draw everyone’s attention and felt that everyone loved me. When in reality, I was breaking my parents’ hearts, having close-calls with the Law, abandoning my college education, and creating an escape from the Navy. In this facade of happiness I managed to destroy every good thing in my life. I began to hate being sober. I couldn’t handle the fact that I was failing at life; I failed to find any balance at all.

Instead of stopping and admitting to my family and friends that I was broken and had no idea what I was doing with my life, I just pressed on harder than before. I decided I would return to school, I was older now and could surely handle that load this time, and of course, I was wrong.

At this time in my life, I had completely pushed the idea of God out of my mind. I believed all believers were fools begin tricked into following the laws and being “good”. My God was the universe’s energy, Ancient Alien stuff, the whole inner peace and deeper thinking and consciences of the mind. Hallucinogens and other drugs became my sacraments and right there went most of my morals; and my life was trailing right behind them. As I struggled to barely make it thought class, partying was all I could think about or even care about. Then on a night in December of 2012, following a night of drinking at a comedy club, my roommate and I decided to head home and meet up with some girls.

That never happened. While on our way home the car I was driving crossed the center line and hit a truck in the next lane causing their vehicle to roll and eject two people from it. One of the victims died that night while the other remained in a coma for over a year before succumbing to his injuries and passing away in 2014. While these are two people I never knew, they have become two lives I will never forget.

These events led me to jail. While in jail I found myself running back to the God that I had refused for years to believe in. I begged God! Even pleaded with Him that if He would just get me out of this I would clean my life up and live solely for Him. Later, I was released on bond. Soon thereafter the totality of my actions began to set in. I was responsible for the taking of two precious young lives. In realizing that I tool them from their friends, families, and communities that surely loved them, a great depression came upon me.

And once again, I knew what I need more than anyone else. So, instead of asking for help, I chose to return to drinking. This time was different, right? This time I wasn’t drinking for fun. I was drinking to numb pain, drown out images and voices of the lives I’d taken. While constantly dealing with a barrage of hateful and threatening messages on social media, posing the same question I was pondering myself; why do I get to survive, why do I get to live? So many nights I would tell myself, “Maybe if I drink enough, I won’t have to wake up. And it also won’t appear as if I had intentionally taken my own life.” Thank God that never happened.

I stumbled through that year on bond until finally being sentenced for my crime. Thinking that this is the end of my woes I soon came to discover that once again, I was wrong. As I laid in my cell each night, my mind would constantly race, thoughts of condemnation and self-conviction – “You’ve taken two young lives and here you only have to spend 7 years in prison. That is not right.” As the guilt continued to consume me, I decided to run to drugs once again.

A year later, in August 2015, I found myself broken once again. As I sat in my cell preparing to get high yet again, God showed up. In that moment He allowed me to see myself through His eyes. It was as if I were watching my life unfold on a television screen. I instantly began to question myself, “How much lower do I want to go?” Then I could feel God asking, “Haven’t you had enough, aren’t you tired?” In that moment I knew who was speaking to me and began sobbing. It wasn’t just some energy, or an Alien, or mother nature, but it was Jesus Christ. With tears falling from my eyes, I realized the extent of my brokenness and “fixing” it was beyond my ability. I had no answers on how to, or the will power just to pick myself up. It was then I realized and knew I truly needed God; it was here that I finally surrendered and turned my life over to Him. Crying out “God, here is where I’ve gotten myself on my own. I can’t do this anymore. I give up. I’m broken, please God take control and lead me the right way.”

I’ve not been high since. From there I began bible reading, real prayer, and stopped hanging around the bad crowd. I later started attending church services and this time because I wanted to, not because I had to.

Since turning my life over to God, I still have days where I struggle, days that I feel a little hurt from my past. But I believe God’s left that for now as a reminder of where I have been and what He has brought me out of. It allows me to keep focused on Him and trust where He is leading me in the future. So far He’s put me in leadership spots in Celebrate Recovery along with our Christian General community in the prison. He’s using my story, my life to help others. Under His guidance, He molds me into the man He wants me to be, it’s a process. God has truly shown me grace and mercy and with that I have peace. I serve a God who promises to forgive all sins and provides strength through my weakness. As I continue in His Word and in this walk, I will go forth and witness what He has done for me. I am a new creation. The old is gone and the new is here. 2 Corinthians 5:17

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