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I Wasted too Much Time
Kevin L. Whitworth
I had been cycled in and out of jail. Oh sure most of the time it was petty stuff, A hot check or drunk driving charge. Occasionally I was booked on bogus charges or mixed up paperwork. It didn't bother me to much to sit in jail for a couple of weeks; I usually needed the rest. Missing work did not bug me to much either; I seldom worked steady anyway. When I did work it was usually just long enough to raise drug money, or to pay a particularly pressing debt. My family also got used to me being gone for various lengths of time. And my absence didn't really bother them anymore. As my escapades got to be more serious, my time in jail increased.
When I began going to jail my stays never lasted more than a few days, which in time grew to a matter of weeks. But, as I continued down the path I felt was laid before me, I started spending more time incarcerated. What used to be a time of much needed rest was now a permanent residency. The jail used to be like checking into a motel for sleep, a meal, and a much needed shower. Yes, jail was pretty good in those days. Now it felt more like hell. Sometimes this was depressing, occasionally I got into fights with other inmates just trying to escape the boredom.
My schooling was – acceptable in most situations. Although, I wasn't what you would call a scholar. I had dropped out of high school the first quarter of the ninth grade. Despite my lack of high school education, I had retained enough knowledge to get a GED. I could read well, but I didn't like novels so while caged I read books on Philosophy, Sociology, Evolution, etc. Reading these works forced me to think about things; this was a very effective way to burn the time. Like many others who receiving these great benefits from the state (free room and board, three squares etc.) I wrote to people asking for money on my books, telling them when they could visit, and hoping that they would find time in there busy schedule to write back. It was here I got turned on to writing poetry. It wasn't the best poetry ‹ at least not from a literary perspective. But, it did help keep me busy between trials and wondering if I were going to be sent to prison this time. I used to read my poems to a few of the guys, they would laugh and tell me things like, "Man you could get some good meds if you would go to the Psychiatrist." They were wrong I went to the Psychiatrist, and they would not give me anything but a hard time. I had developed a contempt for religion by this time, and I occasionally thought it was my place to teach people about my agnostic views. This sometimes got personal, as I am sure you could imagine. One guy used to make light of my disbelief every chance he got. He was the classic hypocrite, he cheated on his wife, abused drugs, etc. you know the type. It was people like him that made me proud to be agnostic.
As I was saying earlier, I was writing jail house poetry quite often, writing had proved to be an effective release for me. When I finished bouncing from one jail to another, I had saved up quite a few poems. When I got out I read them to my friends at parties they thought they were cool. But, as the story goes that's history. My absences and addictions, tore my family apart. My wife and I were living separate lives, and the divorce was almost final. Then somehow I lost my craving for drugs, they weren't working anyway, so why bother doing them. Then a few attempts to make money cooking and selling meth (Crystal/Speed) didnÕt pan out either. I didn't understand this, I used to be able to manufacture and sell with no problems, now I couldn't. It is as though I changed, I used to be successful at certain things, now I always failed when I tried them.
I had been in numerous relationships that did not work out. After many failures I went crawling back to my wife. My wife didn't necessarily care to see me wanting to come home. She had been this road to often; it never worked. She did finally agree to take me back on one condition; I had to attend marriage counseling with her. I didn't like the idea, but I went along with it so I could have another try at making our marriage work. I had no choice, so I gave parents pastor a call because I knew he would counsel us for free. My parents had been praying almost ten years for me, and I figured the preacher would want a crack at me. I told the pastor up front that I did not necessarily believe in God, but he exhorted us anyway.
As a token of appreciation I attended a couple of his sermons. I did not like much of what he said so I decided to snare him by his own standard, the Bible. Then I got busy, I started arriving at church early, pen and paper in hand, I was eager to take notes. That was the only way I could find the inconsistencies and convict the pastor in the court of my mind. Then I would tell him what I thought of his paradoxical measure of life. By that time things were going along okay, my wife and family were doing fine, I had nothing major to complain about and no reason to want change.
Then it happened, it was out of my control. Something went awry in a great way, you see the more I read the Bible to trap the preacher; the more it made sense to me. The more it made sense to me; the more I could believe. I still didn't wholeheartedly believe that Christ wanted a relationship with me, but I had no problem believing that I was a sinner, if there ever was one, it was me. I was now attending church because I wanted to learn more about this strange concept of excepting Jesus as my personal savior. It happened on April 2, 1999. When I arrived at church that morning I still was not 100% convinced that God was real, I am now. I was irresistibly drawn to the altar, there I confessed my sins. This was very therapeutic but that's not all that happened. I decided to make the Bible my standard and Jesus my example. This not only helped save my marriage and family, it set me off on a never ending journey of learning, and helping people. I am now seeking a career in Christian ministry. People tell me it's not a very lucrative profession, pastors and teachers are among the nations lowest paid professionals, that's okay I never planed to get rich anyway.
After this I didn't look at my poems much, then one day my wife told me I should send in a poem to a contest. I got out my poems and read them, but I didn't feel that they were appropriate to send in. You see, when I wrote these poems I wrote them from the perspective of someone with no hope, but now I have hope. So I sat down and wrote another, I sent it in and to my amazement they published it. They not only published it They asked permission to put it on a CD which I gratefully gave them. After I told some of my friends about it, they wanted to hear some of my poems; they liked them. One day as I was taking to my pastor he suggested that I write a book using the poems to tell about my past. I decided I would write the book, I contrasted the way I used to look at life with the way I look at life now, it is quite different. I named the book, "Ultimate Dichotomy" and it was accepted for publication in August 2002. Thank God, maybe I didn't go through all that hell for nothing. Just maybe God has a plan, and in this plan He can use my experiences to show others their faults.
In the gospel of John 10:10, Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life and that they may have it more abundantly." This life Jesus spoke of starts now. Even all the times I sat in concrete tombs across America were not a waste. I used to read the dictionary and other books out of boredom, or to help me write a letter. Now I use the dictionary in my work; I teach as a fill-in teacher at a few churches in my area. I"ve spoken at banquets and on other occasions. I didn"t know myself before I started writing, and I would have never started writing if I hadn"t been locked up. If you feel like your wasting time then it is possible you are missing something in your life
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Dr. William James Carter, The 1st
01 Feb 2003
What a testimony!
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