Posts Tagged ‘Gratitude’

img_8514To the people of Calvary Church and Shelby,

My name is Michael and I’m currently housed in the Centre County Correctional Facility. I’ve been incarcerated since March of 2015. I was 18 years old then, now I’m 20 and approaching my release date. I’m currently sentenced to 23 months and 29 days. As I’ve spent time here I started my journey of recovery. My drugs of choice are heroin and bath salts.

Recently I have been introduced to the Bible, the book of God. I’ve been familiar with the 12 steps of NA and I was able to get a recovery Bible. I’m a new believer and I read my Bible and pray every day. My faith is a little rocky but as I continue my journey God seems to send signs of strength to me. I’ve spent 2 Christmas holidays in jail, the first was a hassle and I was not sure how to respond to an act of kindness from people I don’t know. Calvary Church sent Christmas bags and it was the first time I felt like I mattered. I’ve felt that I didn’t matter, that a convicted felon was forgotten even though I’m a person with a family and hopes and dreams.

I’m older now and I’ve grown and matured mentally, emotionally and physically. I’ve taught myself to appreciate the small things and remain grateful for all things. I would like to say I am grateful for Calvary Church. I’m grateful for the gifts they sent all of the inmates. I’m grateful for all the time, money, and effort that was put into making the Christmas bags possible. It means a lot to me that total strangers put together gifts for people who are often shunned and looked down upon by society. It hurts to say that but it’s the truth. I committed my crime as a minor and was charged as an adult. I made a mistake because I needed to support a habit. As a 17 year old kid I wasn’t able to worry about the consequences of my actions. I’m really grateful that God has put me through these tough times so I could grow. If it weren’t for God I would not be writing this letter of thanks and gratefulness. Thank you Calvary Church for all that you do for us inmates. I’ve already met one member (Shelby) and I’d like to meet more. 

Sincerely, Michael

*His name has been changed and spelling corrected, but otherwise this is just a copy of what I received. Since it was addressed to the whole church I thought this was the best way to get it out to the most people. Thanks to everyone who was a part of this…there are way too many people who gave that I cannot reach you all and am so very grateful.

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humbled.jpgI get humbled a lot. In my job I am reminded almost daily how much I take for granted in life. How much I don’t say thank you for. How much i think I deserve…even though I don’t. See, I think I deserve a bed, a blanket, a room to keep my things in, shoes to walk in, clothes to wear, at least some food to eat each day. But that’s just not true. I don’t deserve those things… sure, as humans we should have those things, but why do I think I deserve them when I know other people don’t get them.

IMG_3075.JPGTonight I was humbled above and beyond the normal recognition of my greed. Today I was given a gift from a homeless man. It doesn’t sound that crazy, I mean, I have lots of homeless friends and I’ve gotten gifts from them before because many are the most generous people I know, but today was different. Today I got a gift from a man I’d been arguing with earlier in the week because he came in demanding things and I wasn’t going to have any of that attitude. We have as few rules as possible in our shelter, but we still have some and when you start making exceptions things tend to go bad quickly. So we argued. I stood my ground. He threatened to leave. I said ok. I was kind of hoping he would. But we kept talking and he calmed down and we ended up having a decent conversation.

IMG_3078We were cautious around each other the next time we were both there, but over the past couple days we’ve continued to talk. He asked if I could dry his shirt in our laundry, I asked questions about his past and his future. He’s still needy, demanding, and can be on your nerves in a heartbeat, but he is so much more than that. He is a human. He is in a tough place. He has a lot going on. He is created in the image of God. He has a reason to be alive. And he probably thinks he deserves all the same things I think I deserve…only he can’t take them for granted anymore. When someone gave this guy money today, he bought me candy. I can’t say it’s the best use of his cash, but I can say it makes me wonder what I’d do if I found a $5 on the ground. I think it’s time to restart a gratitude list, because I don’t want to take life for granted. I don’t want to be needy and demanding. I want to notice all the gifts I’m given each day. Things, breath, light, joy…wonderful, God given gifts! I also want to challenge you…take a minute. Stop. Breath. Think. And be thankful.