Janine's Articles From the Soul From the Outside Poetry Corner Prisoner Letters

Power of Choice


Imagine yourself as a five year-old boy.  you have 2 brothers.  One the same age as you.  One a year older.  You have a sister; she is 8.  It’s nighttime.  you’re supposed to be asleep, but you’re not.  You’re not asleep because you’re afraid.  You’re not afraid because it’s dark.  You’re afraid because you know he is coming.  You can hear his footsteps coming up the stairs; walking down the hall; opening your bedroom door.  You don’t scream or cry out, because if you do your brothers will get hurt.  your sister will get hurt.  On the nights you are left alone, you cry and cry until, eventually, you fall asleep.  You’re crying because you know that he will come again.  You’re crying because, right now, your sister or one of your brothers is alone with him.  Where is Mommy?  Where is she while all this is happening?  Mommy is working or Mommy is sleeping...Mommy doesn’t know because you are too scared to say anything at all.  So you just cry...hoping tomorrow he will let you alone.

This scenario is all too real for a lot of us.  you have been there.  He has been there.  I have been there.  The person that did these things to my siblings and myself made a choice.  That choice changed his life, my siblings’ life, and my life forever.

As a result of this man’s choices, I grew up without a father figure in my life.  My mother could not trust another man alone with her children.  My sister married an alcoholic abusive man.  My eldest brother thinks he is a sociopath.  he is also bisexual.  My twin brother is doing well, although he is also an alcoholic.  I have a myriad of issues: PTSD, chronic depression, low self-esteem, and narcissism.  My life choices, up until a few years ago, were driven by what one man did to me all those years ago.  That is why I am here speaking with you now.  Breaking the cycle of bad choices, not just abuse, is the key to change.

Prison has been a slap in the face for me.  It was God saying “Hey, are you gonna let me do this or what?”  God says to me, “You could see peace instead of this.  There is another way of looking at the world.” My life isn’t special, unique yes, but not special!  We all have suffered one way or another because of a choice that you or someone else has made.  This has come as a revelation to me because the implications are life-altering.  even world changing.

Peace begins with our thoughts and extends outward from our minds.  We have the power to choose thoughts of peace instead of unloving, therefore, peace is a choice that we make.  Marianne Williamson said it well in her book “The Gift of Change” when she wrote that there is learning in everything we go through.  you must decide for yourself how you allow things to register in your life.  Whose opinion do you value most: other people’s or God’s?  According to “A Course in Miracles” happiness is a choice we must make.  Our capacity to change our minds is the greatest gift that God  has given us, and it is also the most powerful.  What we
do with what happens to us and who we decide to become because of what happened to us is the spiritual meaning of every situation.  Our only true failure is our failure to learn or grow from what we have been through.

“There is another way of looking at the world.”  This is not only a personally empowering concept, it is a world-changing realization.  As we begin to examine our thoughts, we will be amazed at the number of situations in which the idea of “another way” of looking at it has simply never occurred to us.  With some things, such as mothers who kill their children, fathers who rape their children, or children who kill their parents or friends, the idea that we could see them differently may actually be offensive.  But therein lies the power-the world-changing realization.  Even in the most heinous of situations there is an opportunity for you to choose to love and not hate.  To help and not condemn.  Is this not what Jesus did before he died on the cross?

I have made many “good” and ‘bad” choices that have molded me, or rather helped me to mold myself, into the example that I share with everyone.

  • I have attempted suicide-- twice.
  • I used to beat myself up to get attention
  • I have cut myself to the bone, literally, because I wanted to be the center of attention.
  • I chose drugs over school.
  • I chose drugs over my family, friends, and children.
  • I chose to steal.
  • I chose to hurt people.

The pattern here is choice.  Think about everything that you have ever done--good and bad.  What do you feel about yourself now?  Regret, happiness, fear, love, hate, forgiveness, anger, depression.

You respond to what you perceive, and as you perceive so shall you behave.  Sound familiar?  The Golden Rule is the rule for appropriate behavior.  You cannot behave appropriately (make the right choices) unless you perceive correctly.  How do you treat yourself?  Could it be that some people treat unjustly, without trust, without respect, without love because
that is how you choose to treat yourself?  Do you love yourself?  Do you respect yourself enough to respect others?  Do you trust yourself enough to trust others?  Do you care enough about your own well-being to care enough about another person in the self-same way?  Do you share with someone who you know steals from others, even you?  Do you give to those who need even if they do not ask for it?  Do you give if they do ask for it?  You treat others the way you treat yourself.  it is as much a statement of fact as it is a suggestion of changed behavior.  This is how we treat each other.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.  You can choose to be different.  “A Course in Miracles” says “The power of decision is my own.”   You don’t have to be like someone else.  Just be yourself.

When you get back out on the street, think about what choices you make, first, by applying them to yourself.

Prisoner Letters

Latest Issue: 92


For example:

  • You’re a drug dealer trying to sell crack to a child.  Would you sell it to your child?
  • You steal cars.  You just stole a car from a family whose life depends solely on that vehicle.  Without it, the family suffers a severe loss of income.  They lose their home and now they cannot afford to feed their children.  Would you do this to yourself?
  • You molested or raped a person.  Regardless of age, this destroys  a person’s life to the very core.  They become distant, insecure, scared, depressed, suicidal, and most end up repeating the act to another.  In older age groups, a barrier is put up.  Trust is pretty much non-existant towards the opposite sex.  Is this how you would live your life?  Would you want to be that child, woman, mother, sister?  How easy it is to pull the trigger, or press the gas, or plunge the knife.  But what if you were on the receiving end?  Would you want to die that way?  Or would you want to live to see your children have children, etc.

How you perceive yourself is detrimental to how you perceive others.  Your life choices then and now are so influential, so important, that one choice--just one-- will change your life forever.  Choose Life!  Choose Peace!  Choose Love!  Choose Forgiveness!  Not even God will make these choices for you.  God gave you the power so you can choose for yourself.  What do you choose?  Remember...you have the power to change the world, one thought at a time.

Thank you