[This post follows True Love in chronological order]
So on November 7th 2014 I was officially released from the Regina Provincial Correctional Centre. This release wasn’t unconditional and certainly wasn’t without a lot of fear on my part. The major conditions, due to my early release, were that I must stay within 100km of my home, be home between the hours of 11pm to 7am daily, abstain from alcohol and drugs (not an issue), and report in person to the local RCMP at least once a week. Also I was advised that the RCMP could visit at any time, day or night, to confirm that I was in compliance with these conditions. Officially I was still completely under the control of the correctional system, but was under a modified house arrest. These major conditions would last for one month, until I had fulfilled my complete 8 month sentence.
We made arrangements that Judy would come to pick me up in Regina, but since she had no experience in Regina and didn’t know where the jail was, we got help from a Troy, the local pastor that I’d had contact with in jail, to get her an escort to find the jail. The arranged time for my pick up was 2pm. All day, until that time, I was stressed about how this would work out, and praying for safe travels.
From 1pm to 2pm daily we had a lockdown in our cells. Usually I used this time to read the Bible or study, but on this day all I could do was pace back and forth in my cell and pray constantly as the Apostle Paul tells us to do:
Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
The praying worked, because just before 2pm, I saw our car arrive in the parking lot, as Judy arrived to meet me. As the lockdown ended, I was called to the “bubble”, where the guards sat, and asked if I was ready to leave. With a final goodbye to my fellow inmates, and handshakes and waves, I walked out of my unit for the final time and began my walk across the field to the main jail building, and my freedom.
After changing clothes, signing papers and collecting my items that the jail had in storage, I walked out of the jail and into the arms of my wife who was waiting in tears. So far, so good, but I had issues that I needed to deal with.
I got behind the wheel of my car and drove away, without looking back. [Sidenote: I drive by the jail on a regular basis as part of my travels with my job, and always look at it. It was my “home” for seven months and I always feel strange going past it.] Our first stop was Tim Hortons for a good cup of coffee, something I had not had in way too long! That was when I realized that I had a major issue to address.
I’d been in a unit with a maximum of 24 inmates for 7 months. Everything I did in those 7 months was controlled by someone else, and now I was in public. As I entered the restaurant I felt like EVERY eye was upon me. I wore my “convict” status like a badge. I didn’t like, and still don’t like, to be in crowded places. The mall or any other place where there are groups of people bother me. It has eased somewhat, but there’s always a little trepidation when I get into a large group of people. I survived this first encounter, but that was only one visit. I have my whole life ahead of me!
I also had the fear of how my wife and family were going to react. Judy and I had about 5 hours on the road to talk, and we did. I could feel tension and fear from her, but also felt that there was hope, and there is. We finally were able to talk face to face about my newfound faith and I was able to prove that I wasn’t playing a game or faking. I also needed to prove to myself that I could continue on this journey on the outside.
It felt strange to be home and somewhat in control of my life again. In jail everything was done on a schedule and now I could make my own choices again. At 8:30pm (and again at 10:00pm) I felt really strange, because those times were when we had a physical inmate count, and all activities stopped until the guards were satisfied. I could eat when and what I wanted, I could watch my own TV without having to negotiate with 23 other people. I could sleep in comfort without a lot of noise and lights all night long. But I felt out of place.
I had weekly appointments with my probation officer for the first couple of months, and then monthly after that. And I just found that even though I was out of jail, I still felt restricted. I was on probation for 3 years (until Nov 2017), so there were long lasting conditions that I had to comply with. But eventually life began to fall back into a more regular feel. But still as of this writing, I still suffer the after effects of incarceration. Crowds really still bother me!
The one place I felt welcome and safe, was at church. The other parishoners welcomed me into the fold without question. I hadn’t attended prior to my going to jail, and they didn’t know me, but no one had any issues with me, and I really looked forward to attending each Saturday.
But real life takes over and eventually I had to find a job. That was much harder to do than I expected.
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Steps to Christ:
Thousands have become acquainted with Jesus through this little book, Steps to Christ. And it has helped many more, including those who have walked with Him for years, to know Him better. In just thirteen short chapters, you’ll discover the steps to finding a forever friendship with Jesus. You’ll read about His love for you, repentance, faith and acceptance, growing like Him, the privilege of prayer, what to do with doubt, and how to spend your days rejoicing in your best Friend, Jesus.
Thanks for tthis blog post