Clean Slate

Recently I read an article encouraging the reader to do what he or she DOESN’T like to do. Really? But the author had a point.

I have found that there are several projects I feel the need to complete before I move on to other things. These projects require time, energy and focus – so I keep putting them off. Meanwhile, I can feel the knot in my stomach growing. There is an underlying layer of discomfort and just a general sense of being ill at ease. I have probably wasted much more time worrying and subconsciously worrying about getting these things done. Had I buckled down, I might easily have been done with them by now!

So, what was the author’s advice? Suck it up. Just do it.

As the New Year approaches, I am making a concerted effort to begin it with a clean slate. I’m not usually very good at really sticking to New Year’s resolutions, but beginning the year with a clean slate is very appealing. I hope to have the above-mentioned projects completed by January 1st, and to be blessed then with more time and energy that will allow me to focus on new ones. I have almost completed two.

My wish for all readers is that you, too, begin the New Year without excess baggage. Cross the t’s, dot the i’s, and move on. Re-do the “to do” list. It is not possible to change what has already past in 2013, but we can begin 2014 with a clearer, more focused view on what we need to accomplish, and design a reasonable plan for getting us there.

Did It Change Me?

Most of the time, I don’t know the last names of the men with home I share a bible study fellowship at the local prison. If a person could read the washed out/worn off numbers that appear on their clothing and remember six digits at a time, one could look them up online. We volunteers are not told anything about them and we  – usually – only learn more from the prisoner himself if he chooses to share that information with us.

Recently, my curiosity got the better of me. Each week, names are passed around for all to keep in prayer throughout the week. Online, I looked up a few by name – and got results.

Now I KNOW why some men are there. It has taken the mystery out of it for me…but it has also left me disappointed. I don’t know exactly what offense I was hoping to find, but I found offenses that saddened me.

So, am I a different person now that I know something about some of them? I have an insight I didn’t have, if that makes me a different person. Does it make me more or less fearful of any of them? No. Does it make me more cautious? Perhaps.

I would still love to be able to talk with each and every one to learn their stories. What was childhood like? Do they have families now? What kind of life did they have before they came to prison? What caused them to be sent to prison? What influenced them? Who influenced them? Since these men are in Level I, they can see an end in sight. When they are released, what direction will their lives take? Unfortunately, there is never time for lengthy conversations – even if all that information was shared.

Instead, knowing what I now know, I will pray more directly for those about whom I know a little more. I will look at them, I hope, with greater understanding. I hope and pray that I am not judgmental. I strongly believe that people can and do change. The bottom line is that we all are human. We all make mistakes in life. I will pray that God guides us all…no matter what we have done, or what we will do in the future…and that He accepts us all into a better life with Him when this life is done. I continue to feel privileged to be able to share time with these men weekly. They lift my spirits and they humble me.