Prison in My Heart

written by
James A.

"I started out life hard. Harder than most."

There is always a time in an addict’s life when they look back and think, “How did I live through that?” 25 years later, I finally know that answer. Only through Jesus.

I started out life hard. Harder than most. Not as hard as others. My father was unknown to me and my mother was a severe addict. Between finding ways not to get physically abused and trying to deal with a brutal childhood sexual assault, I found my way into my teens. Sports was my outlet for a time. I developed a ferocious temper toward men which served me well on the field.

By the time I was 15, I tried meth for the first time. It was the first time I ever felt free. Free in my mind but not my heart. I was instantly addicted and grew a penchant for power. At 17, I was shot while being robbed for the drugs I was carrying. At 18, I earned a nine-year sentence for distribution of meth.

At first, prison was scary, but soon, my temper and the ease in which violence came for me served me well there, too. I joined a white supremacist gang and rose quickly while subsequently picking up a pagan religion. After seven years, I found myself trying to figure out how to live in the real world. Soon, the drugs came back, and so did more time in prison. This time saved my life and lead to my story today.

While in county jail, waiting to go to prison, a guard and I developed a friendship. I liked historical reading and he brought me a book on the crusades. I was surprised at what I read. I knew who Jesus was but he wasn’t my God.

Soon, I immersed myself in the Bible, trying to prove this guard (who was a strong believer) wrong. One night, he stayed in my cell talking about Jesus two hours past his shift. I was grilling him trying to prove him wrong. Finally, I said, “There are more planets in the solar system than all the pebbles on all the beaches of our planet. You can’t tell me that there isn’t any other life out there. He said, “You’re asking the wrong question.” I shouted, “I got you!” He smiled and looked me square in the eyes and asked, “Why can’t you believe that someone loves you so much gave you all of this?” That broke me.

He walked out of my cell and I threw myself on my knees and cried and prayed. Then, I prayed and cried some more. I have never known love from a parent. I was finally released from the prison in my heart.

Thank you, Jesus, for saving my wretched soul, and thank you for your mercy.