One of my favorite parts of life is hanging out with some guys inside the walls of a local prison here in Nashville. I find great value to the investment of my time and attention, aiming to pour hope into the hearts of men who have experienced more than I can fathom. I want to share the story of one of those men. His name is Adam, and his journey toward hope is startling and inspiring. Please feel free to add a note of encouragement to him at the end and I’ll make sure he gets it. Thanks for reading! Here’s Adam…
I have learned so much since being incarcerated. I could write a book (or two) on all of the life lessons, and knowledge, that I have attained. In retrospect, I see that the first stepping-stone on my path to real freedom was love. Most importantly, learning to love myself.
How can love be found in a place like this? Especially when so many men in here hate themselves more than any other person could. Your worst moment, your weakest point is now your crowning achievement. You are that moment now. How can you not hate yourself? I blamed everyone and everything I could for my fall from grace. However, at the end of the day all arrows and fingers pointed back at me.
While I was sitting in an Isolation cell, nicknamed “The Buck-Naked,” I learned to love myself. I will briefly paint a picture for you… Imagine a concrete room the size of your bathroom with a concrete slab as your only furniture. That concrete slab is your bed. Cold air is pumped through a vent to keep you docile. A camera is posted in the room to make sure you don’t completely lose your wits and try to damage state property by killing yourself. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that you re buck-naked, hence the nickname for the cell you currently reside in. I only paint this picture to set a scene, not to invoke any kind of pity.
I was stripped of all distractions and forced to face myself in all my naked glory. Over the next 30 days I would go through every emotion you can think of. I started out angry, then a deep sadness, but by the end of my 30 days I was smiling and talking to God during those long cold days. What could be more humbling? You see, I realized that throughout my whole journey God had been there with me. The sad part is that it took this most humbling of situations to wake me up. It all started with me realizing that I am indeed a child of God. As a child of God I am loved unconditionally. This unconditional love being totally alien to me except for brief glimpses throughout my life up to that point. What an awesome feeling, to know that I am loved whether I am selling cocaine, or at church singing hymns. Pretty radical, right? I think so. Through this unconditional love I learned to love myself and took my first step towards freedom.
I haven’t looked back since I stepped out of the buck-naked. I have kept my eyes, and my heart, open to whatever God is trying to teach me each and every day.
I want to invite all of my brothers and sisters (after all we have the same Father) to take my hand and walk with your eyes and hearts wide open. If you look carefully you may see that you are in a prison of your own, those are the prisons that are the hardest to get out of. The only way to get out is to see yourself as God sees you. Then you start seeing others as God sees them. So get buck-naked in front of the Father and bask in His unconditional love. Love yourself as He loves you.