Are you a lover, or a hater? Is it possible to be both at the same time? Which is the right choice? On April 10, 2014 as I stepped inside Regina Provincial Correctional Centre for the first (and only) time, I was a hater! I hated everyone, I hated myself, I hated the government for putting me there, and I obviously hated my family, because otherwise I wouldn’t have been putting them through this!
I knew this day was coming, but was in denial. I thought in my misguided mind, that things would get better, the judge and justice system would change their minds and that I’d never see the inside of a jail cell, wow was I wrong! So now I was even more mad and hating even more. A few days into my sentence, I was evaluated by my case worker. I was given a long question and answer page to fill out. I turned it back in and a few days later my assessment came back. I’d come back looking pretty good, except for the fact that I was now labelled as an “anarchist” because I blamed the government for my incarceration, and not myself! I thought this was funny at the time, but looking back, not so much.
So I settled into my daily routines that were told in two previous posts (A Day In The Life Part 1 and Part 2), and eventually my attitude changed a small amount, but I still had issues. I still hated myself, and I especially hated anyone who was different from me.
This was a long running issue for me, hating people who were different. Now I wasn’t racist (at least in my own mind), I just didn’t like people who were different colour from me, or spoke a different language, or had different culture or … well anyone that was different, but I couldn’t have been a racist! When we lived in Winnipeg (or if we visited), my wife didn’t like to be out in public with me because she never knew when I’d let loose with a rant against someone who was “different” from me. I also would share a crude or racist joke without a second thought, but I wasn’t a racist. I just didn’t like people who were different!
So back to being in jail, that hate of others was going to be an issue in a small closed society of men of different races and cultures, so I needed to adapt. I’d done that before, I’d learnt to tolerate different people when it for in my best interest, like when I had to work with people, but doing so for the next eight months was going to be difficult. But things were about to change in a major way and that was going to seriously affect my attitude.
Not long after starting my sentence, I found a book in the unit library that started a change in my life. (This part of my story has previously been detailed in My Journey Begins…) As I read The Bible and spoke with the jail chaplain, I realized that the story that God was trying to teach me was all about love! Loving myself, my family, my neighbours, and even my enemies! This was going to be harder than I thought. But I was (and am) a work in progress, so I’ll just take it slowly.
My first goal was to clean up my mouth and my mind, and although I still struggle with the occasional slip of the tongue, with God’s help and support, I’ve pretty much got the bad language issue beaten. There was also the uncontrolled anger issue, especially when it comes to other drivers on the road, and I’d have to say that I have that mostly under control. Sure I still get angry when other drivers do stupid things that affect my safety, but I don’t let loose with a mouthful of bad language or follow them down the highway with my hand on the horn!
So I was doing pretty good, but I still had one major issue to address and that was my dislike for anyone different than me, but remember I was not a racist! I began to change my attitude towards different people while I was in jail, firstly because I needed to survive, and to survive I needed to get along with people, but it was also because as I delved deeper into The Bible, I was beginning to understand what God was teaching.
God was teaching me to love, to love myself, to love my neighbour and to love my enemies. And it was sinking in. I was really beginning to change my attitude. I began to see that if you strip away our exteriors, we are all the same inside. Even though people may have differing ideas, ideals and beliefs, we really are all God’s children. If you consider that all life was created by God, and that all humans originated from Adam and Eve, then everyone on earth is related and therefore NOT different.
So while in jail, I was able to change my thinking about different people, but could I put it into action on the outside. On November 7th 2014, seven months after walking into jail, I walked out, one month early. And I was going to put my new feelings to the test. Leaving Regina, I was driving for the first time in 7 months and had to contend with other drivers who were less than perfect. But it was not until February 2015, when I started driving truck again that I realized how I had made a major change in my attitude.
I didn’t take offense at other truck drivers who had different skills, and especially accepted those who came from different cultures. I’d smile and wave at them on the highway, and I always say hello at the fuel island or other places in the truck stop. I refuse to engage in discussions with other drivers that relate only to a person’s culture or race. God’s teachings do not allow that. A person’s culture or race do not make them an inferior driver, a person’s training causes that problem.
I was now a lover, not a hater, and I was no longer a racist, yeah I guess I was one, and just didn’t know it. God can change YOUR life too, if you just give Him a chance and listen.
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The Great Controversy Ended :
The Great Controversy gives a startling overview of the mighty conflict between Christ and Satan from its origins in heaven thousands of years ago to its conclusion on earth in the days just ahead of us. This still-timely book reveals how God will ultimately rid the universe of evil and make all things new.