Post Categories: March 11, 2020

Damon experienced the Holy Spirit in prison

Damon was a prisoner to himself, but his time in jail helped him find freedom in Christ.

Man staring out at sunny valley

I have been doing a lot of personal introspective work since my arrest. I do not define myself by my errors, my mistakes or my crimes. I know I am a good person. I do not live in the past, I live in the present. I have only one chance to live today, as tomorrow it will be gone forever. I am no longer anxious and afraid of the future. I will not take life for granted anymore: it was taken away from me suddenly and completely. I have lost my family, many of my friends, my house, all my assets and my livelihood. I am grieving and mourning all these losses. However, I realize I will not miss my old life, my old self. I want to live and love life to its fullest. I am transcending my old self and renewing myself, reorienting my life.

After my arrest, I was literally suffocating from shame and guilt. I could not bear to see myself in the mirror, or even write my own name. In November 2018, I finally understood I could no longer continue to rely on my own devices, and I accepted that I needed help. I held on far too long to the false belief that I should not ask anyone for help for fear of betrayal or rejection.

Many friends and family came to visit me. They were all very supportive and happy to see me. I cried a lot with them. I could not understand how anyone could still have any love or kindness for me, as my self-esteem was at the lowest point it had ever been. I realized all of these people had one thing in common: they were all in touch with the Divine. I decided to look into this, and I started reading the Bible. I went to church and prayed with the chaplain.

Near the end of the year, a pastor friend visited, and he prayed with me and for me. At that moment, I felt the Holy Spirit come into my heart. The fear and anxiety I had felt for so long were replaced with peace and joy. That day I surrendered my life to God. I know God has a plan for me. I was not arrested — I was rescued. I changed my attitude, the way I look at myself and the way I look at others. I started to see with more clarity my weaknesses and my strengths, my faults and my qualities. I accepted that I was far from perfect, but more importantly that I no longer needed to be perfect.

Our differences connect us.

We belong the way we are… with all our imperfections. They define our humanity.

I started seeing all the proverbial elephants in the room, I opened the door and I started letting them out in the garden. Until a couple years ago, I thought I had everything I needed to be happy: a good education, good health, a good family, two great children, a beautiful home, a great career, and enough assets to retire comfortably. However, I was unhappy. Spirituality was missing.

I was a prisoner in my old wounds, of my fears of betrayal, rejection and abandonment, prisoner of my own self. Denial, justification, rationalization, minimization were all defence mechanisms I had been using to survive my childhood traumas. Paradoxically, I feel freer here behind bars than I ever felt in my life. The walls are not to prevent my escape (I would not escape even if there were no walls); rather they are there to protect me from the distractions from the outside world.

I am doing very important work; I am dying a little bit every day to my old self, to be reborn in Christ. Jesus loves me unconditionally. He will never reject, betray or abandon me.

When we know we’re loved because of who we are, we become healthier in mind and more intimate in expression. We’re freed from the fear of rejection and loosed from the anxiety to perform.

I go to church twice a week; I do Bible studies by correspondence with four organizations; I do group Bible studies with a chaplain once a week; I meet with chaplain John weekly; I pray often and read the Bible daily.

I feel very grateful to be here, for the opportunity to learn about and improve myself, and to heal from my past.

My pastor friend proposed I work with him in a Christian Centre helping refugees to adapt to their new life in Canada. I am very much looking forward to joining my new Christian family, from whom I will seek continuing help and guidance.

I feel the Holy Spirit is in my heart and I let Him guide me away from a life of self­-centeredness towards one of service to others. Peace and joy that come through faith are gradually replacing the fear of rejection, betrayal and abandonment. I now feel much more self-confident, with much less fear of emotional intimacy.

I have humbled myself and opened my heart. I am learning to love others and myself as God loves us, I am learning to love God in others and myself, I am learning to let myself become the ·instrument through which God loves us all.

I subconsciously thought denial was protecting me from my pain, but it has prolonged it, made it worse and caused it to be transformed into shame and guilt.

I was afraid to lose control of my life and I resisted change. I was afraid of the unexpected and I tried to control everything. I did not trust the future because my past had been so painful. I now recognize I had very little control on my life, and I realize I cannot continue leading my life as I have always done it: alone. Because alone, I am powerless.

I am recovering my freedom by accepting, identifying, recognizing and expressing my emotions. Since I now reveal my secrets in broad daylight, I can start the journey towards healing.

From being impatient, irritable, self-absorbed and taking myself too seriously, I am becoming patient, gentle, kind, joyful, grateful, humble, generous, and respectful of others and myself.

I used to be pessimistic, always looking for problems and with a negative attitude. I am now optimistic about my life and my future.

I have turned my life around 180°, and I now view others and myself in a completely new way. I have changed, from the limited viewpoint I had of my life to God’s much broader and hope-filled perspective.

Damon’s name has been changed to protect his privacy. Photo by Almos Bechtold on Unsplash.

If you want to make a meaningful impact in the hearts of prisoners, you’ve found the right ministry.

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