Fresh Start Ministries’ primary focus is to help those who are incarnated in jail as well as to ReEnter community life. We feel this is a great time to share our new series of testimonials from actual people making their own way back into society.
The testimonies heard throughout the programs offered by Fresh Start Ministries, are stories of transformation, that of which could only happened through the grace of God.
After returning to work, I experienced many of the negative attitudes and behaviors referenced earlier in this writing by my own partners. I was viewed as weak and shunned — pushed outside the group. This was hard to take on top of still learning how to navigate my mental illnesses. Several months after, I was involved in a foot pursuit of a shooting suspect who gunned down a city patron. During the pursuit and catch of this criminal, I became injured with a diagnosis of surgery after waiting a few months at home. I became further depressed and began consuming copious amounts of alcohol to numb my physical and mental pain.
During this time and a few days away from Christmas, I was run off the road by a head-on vehicle. I went over the side of a bridge, flipped several times, and crashed into an icy creek. With alcohol still in my system from my blackout drinking the night before, I was arrested for DUI and taken to jail. After my release, I was on light duty due to my work injury and now also suspended during the arrest investigation.
My drinking continued and my mental state declined. I again attempted suicide but was stopped by a partner who had no clue where I was. It was definitely a miracle. I didn’t think so at the time and was furious. Again, I was locked up in a psychiatric hospital where I went through alcohol detox which was extremely painful. During my stay, I was forced to resign my position with the police force.
Now, I am currently attending an addictions program and am in mental health therapy. I still struggle with my mental illnesses and suicide ideation. This is me being real. I am still in therapy for my physical work injury with the prospect looming of never being able to run again. I am jobless and have had to allow others to walk a mile in my shoes with me. This has been hard for me to allow because of how most people react or view others once they know what they are dealing with. Did I ever expect to be in these shoes? Heck no! I would not wish these painful shoes be given to my worst enemy. I truly mean that. Do I know what the next mile holds for me? No. Do I know how many more uphill miles are ahead until I get another pair of shoes and enter a different race? Nope.
What I can tell you is that the most encouraging and empathetic people I have encountered in these current shoes are the ones that came along, took my shoes, laced them up, and walked with me a mile. Not to try and change my mile or convince me it was or wasn’t hard. They walked with me as if it were themselves in my current position. No judgment. No guardedness. Just true empathy and a shoulder next to mine. These kind of people are angels, guardians, helpers, and care 100% about others.
My mother has been one of these angels — for me and for others. Working with women incarcerated and those recently released as a mentor for the Fresh Start Program is what she does. No judgement. With an open hand and a steady shoulder she laces up the shoes of those she meets through this program and walks a mile with them. Sometimes two or three miles if that’s what is needed.
Having experienced walking in someone else’s shoes, and having someone walk with me in mine, I’ve been given a 360-degree view: how to help, what’s really helpful, what’s not, and how to allow others in to help. The insight I glimpsed from deep reflection on how does one walk a mile in someone’s shoes inspired this poem I wrote titled “A few paces in my laces.” Always remember that what we see in others is only a tidbit of what they are actually going through.
With that said, THANK YOU to those of you willing to BE ANOTHER for OTHERS without expectation. Allowing others to show you their pain, carrying it with them to alleviate the load and showing them there is hope. You rock!
Part 4 coming tomorrow……