Chapter 20. Change Produces Growth Opportunities

There is no secret to the fact change will produce growth and further opportunities for one to grow.  And the reverse is true, growing will result in change and the opportunity for further changes.  This is what I experienced in these months here.  By far, the next three months would not be as quick as those previous.  I chalked it up to the realization, before the battle, I was preoccupied and time went quickly, however, the battle has been fought and I won.  One cannot be punished unless it is understood what one did wrong.  These three months were my punishment months.  There was nothing left to do, well, not really, I needed to refocus on more important matters.  These matters had to do with the heart, to another degree.

            I spent hours upon hours laying on my back, mind filled with various thoughts and realizations, my life changed and I was not familiar with living now.  This was definitely new territory and for weeks, literally, I made an attempt to understand it.  After one two week period which I mistakenly thought was a part of depression, little did I realize it was a time for reflection and growth.  It required changes in how I had done things before and a change in my attitude regarding the future.  This by far, was what it all had been leading up to.  A re-evaluation of life.  How did everything really fit?  It began to make sense—finally, of what before had been confusing.  I wrote a piece called:

 

Honesty–Would You Reverse It? 

I can remember, vividly, overhearing a church sister, a mother who had children growing up and the same age as I, in the 1960’s, my early teen years say, “we should not read novels”.  That bit of advice stayed with me over the years and as such I would not read any.  It was not until my first lengthy stay in prison when I had access to them and to have something to do to pass the time, I read as many as I could.  I have to admit, I developed an urge to continue reading books of this nature; however, when I was free, I found it difficult to actually purchase them, even after getting to know a few authors and familiar with their style.

During the time I was incarcerated in Puerto Rico, they were supplied en mass and I looked forward to the newly supplied quarterly racks of novels, admittedly as previously noted, using restraint.  It was not easy but it was accomplished.  Late one night while reading one entitled, “The Special Prisoner” written by Jim Lehrer, God would actually speak to me by a particular paragraph on page 108,

“…forgiveness, claiming that was the single strongest cleansing agent we have as God’s creatures…the power to give and accept forgiveness was the supreme power of civilized man.”

For weeks, at various times, I would be overpowered with thoughts of returning to drug addiction upon my release.  There were times when I had to admit had I been released that day, I would find myself back to where all of this first started.  Other times, there were seldom, if any, thoughts regarding addiction and those were my most peaceful times.

Having read this particular sentence, God put it straight to me which caused me to really evaluate why I was here.  He asked me,

“If you were able to go back to that day in June in 1989, knowing what you know, would you have refused to try it?”

I did not have an immediate answer and here’s why.

I thought about how although working at IBM and earning a good salary, able to purchase the “toys” I enjoyed, I was not a happy man.  I had a marriage which was unhappy, a job I really did not like, sexual problems which were not only publicly embarrassing but always filled me with such amount of stress it often was overwhelming.

Recently, when I wrote this chapter (2004), I thought about if all things had remained the same with the exception of drug addiction, where would I be in the scheme of things?  My house would have been paid and valued near $450,000.  I would have probably two cars, no doubt a Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade as well as a second vehicle, probably a Lexus.  The latest, state of the art computer system and audio/visual electronics, ready to seriously contemplate leaving IBM and taking full retirement with full benefits and pension, although forty-seven years old and still short of receiving any payments until I was fifty-five years old.  Money in the bank, but would I be happy?  I wasn’t in 1987 so why would 2004 be any different?  The only thing different between now and then would have simply been my age because I had everything else!

So, if I could go back to that June evening in 1987 and meet Rose who would take me to that hotel on Broadway in Newburgh, would I have taken the glass stem with that hit of rock cocaine, Crack, and do the same thing?  Knowing full well all the years of pain, tears, humiliation, hunger, homelessness—the answer, truthfully, is—yes!  The only difference between that night and now would be she would not have taken my fifty dollars; in fact, no one would have cheated me because I would have known better.

In the same book, the author quotes a psychiatrist Viktor Frankl, who’s words open up, to me, the essence why I can be honest with God, myself, and you the reader.  I quote:

“There is nothing in the world, I venture to say, that would so effectively help one to survive even the worst conditions as the knowledge that there is a meaning to one’s life.”

It’s like reading novels, is it something we should do?  Is it trash?  Although I could not advocate doing so, but this one thing I do know, God is able to use whatever is available.  He used what might be considered trash and helped me to see something clearly.  As a drug addict, society may have, certainly some family and friends, have thrown me into the pit of human waste, trash, yet there is some good God is still able to produce.  He’s good at recycling.

Today, as I write this, rather, tonight, I have hope I did not otherwise “see”.  I did have it but could not see any other way prior to this experience.  What good is money, health, friendships, etc., if one cannot see it?  True, I do not have a home, car—well, not what I would like to have, or those “toys” I mentioned earlier, but I do have a peace of mind.  I’m not engaging in drug use or immoral sexual practices.  I’m not stressed out because of job problems, yet I’m still here and life goes on.  It would have been a shame to get my current age and yet still operating as I was almost 20 years ago.  For what?

For me to hate or regret the road I’ve traveled is to despise the divine plan instituted for me.  Although never fully in charge of myself, and decisions could have been better, my Father knew all along before I got here the road I would travel.  It’s why I can appreciate Him, never giving up on me.  To Him, there were never any surprises.  Not one.

END

I began to focus on what was really important, for Roy, in this life.  Be for real.  All my life I lived by telling lies and living lies.  That would change.  There was no happiness there.  Could I make an honest sum of money and live content?  No longer did I have the goal of making an exorbitant salary, just to have it to throw away.  Where are all the thousands—no, hundreds of thousands I made since 1974?  I have one savings account of $500 and car valued at $2,000 I’ve been trying to sell for more than a year, and, oh, a credit card with a purchase limit of $250.  No credit union, checking accounts, no home, dishes, yes, and my clothes—thank God.  I would be starting over again.  Let’s do it differently this time.  (Note:  It would be of interest to know as of this editing, October 18, 2007, I lost my Night Auditor’s job at a hotel where I’d been working for eleven months, on September 8, 2007, due to them finding out I had a conviction and was not honest about it on my application.  At this hotel and the previous, which I worked for nineteen months, there was nothing wrong with my performance, just my willingness to be honest about what happened in my life.  This past Monday, I had an interview with a prospective employer and was honest about having a conviction within the past five years and it felt good.  I believe this was a test of what I recognized first in prison but now had to put it into a life test.  I believe God will then take me to the next step in my life, which will be in Atlanta, Georgia, where I will begin life anew and be involved in some type of ministry to help others, like me, who are going through the experiences I have lived through.)

I was free to return to the States where I ultimately belonged.  Where would I go?  I did not desire to return to any place I’d been.  I wanted a new start, not a new start in an old place.  I wanted a place where I could fit in and, hopefully, warm most of the year and no snow.

I recognize from this point forward I might be required to live alone.  I’ve done that before and never realized it could have been my best times had I let it.  There’s nothing wrong with being alone, if you learn not to be lonely.

Even my relationship with my inmate peers began to take on a new dimension.  When they would come to me for advice or to type for them, it would give me an opportunity to witness and have them think about why they are here, and accepting responsibility for what they have done.  To live in this fishbowl very seldom is there any real communication exchanged.  Everyone is thinking of their own situation and hear you only as it pertains to them.  You could be speaking about your case, at length, only to hear them respond,

“It’s like my case, where…”

They did not hear you at all!  I learned to shut down those conversations and really focus on what was important, further limiting my already small opportunity for conversation.

In my issues regarding the recovery of monies from my landlord, I decided to let it go.  I left owing a thousand dollars to my landlady in Cleveland, now I leave here having been taken for about the same.  I wrote a letter to the Judge requesting my computer from their possession, and it was granted, but if it never is, that’s fine for it was God who ordered the removal.  (Note:  When we received the last bit of evidence from the Prosecutor, it was revealed they were fearful they would lose sight of me because they knew I was going to leave from this location, the location the videotape would be delivered.  They got a search warrant for the residence, on the same day, the computer was missing, although never admitting they had taken it.)  He (God) just used them to do it.  Let it go.  Let it all go.  Move forward.  The fight is over.  New doors will open, but not if I continue looking backward.  God is able to do much more than already He has done if I keep my focus on Him.  Even my case, I decided not to appeal because of the error on the side of the Government by not stopping their effort in having me received the videotape after my requesting them to stop.  I did my part by being truthful.  I know why I am here.  I know what God has done for me. Would I win?  Most probably.  But, in those words of the past,

“You must have been looking for something”,

and I was, but now I am looking for something else.  Let God fight the battles and He’s a great scorekeeper, too!

I learned something about worship, too.  I mean, true worship.  The angelical host comes together to praise God and sing songs of His glory.  Do you think they get together to rehearse?  Hardly.  It’s spontaneous and yet in order.  That’s what true worship is and it should be related to one’s life.  Spontaneous and orderly.  Life, can be brought together to be in perfect harmony, if it’s done for the glory of God.

One of the greater blessings during this time was the completion of part of the manuscript.  For months I struggled and even thought to give up writing and seriously had to place it before Him.  Then two weeks before sentencing, He started getting me up in the mornings when it was quiet, I  estimate somewhere around four in the morning, since I could not see a clock, and I’d write Chapters 17 through 20.  The words just flowed and I knew He answered my prayer, again, because this needs to be done for the benefit of myself and you, who’d be blessed by it, yet today, January 19, 2004, I do not even know who you are.  We have a meeting scheduled, you and I, whether through these pages, or due to these pages, where I will be invited to share with you my experience.  I look forward to that time.

For now, I will have completed my part and will spend from today until January 30th when the sentence is pronounced, resting and in prayer.

Thank God for all His blessings.

Chapter 21

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