“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
I had an opportunity to prepare some of the teachers recently for the upcoming TOEFL exam which we were required to take at the university.
As a result, an opportunity presented itself to have one of the teachers from this group speak on how he turned his life around.
He overcame gangs, drugs, rehab and the county jail. Perhaps his story could inspire and help others. Below is a brief description of his talk.
First, there was no mention of a mother and father in his life at the time when he fell into gang activity or him having any faith and spirituality.
Sounds familiar to so many stories of so-called lost youth who lacked the major support systems, such as God and family.
He was simply out riding his new bike to the park one day where a local gang gathered. He befriended them and it wasn’t long before he was part of their gang.
He quickly became involved in drugs, fighting and other gang related activity. He spoke fondly of their nicknames like “Scooby”. This all took place in the United States when he lived with his grandmother in California.
He spent time in and out of the county jail and rehab over a period of several years.
But something serendipitous happened with all the free time he had on his hands. He read the New Testament from the Bible five times as it was his only companion in his jail cell.
He slowly began to feel that after all he had been through something greater than himself was with him whether it is called God or a higher power. He also felt that this presence was somehow guiding him and with him during his darkest hour.
What he did next in the class moved me to the core. He pulled out and read some of the his poetry which he wrote in the county jail years ago.
Below is only a couple of the poems he shared with our group that day. He gave me permission to post them.
Tell please why do we sin? Why do we kill? Help me please not to feel like death is the only place where I’ll find Internal peace lead me please to a place where I’ll find myself at ease with my boys and girls by my side shedding no more tears because we use the same old dope that makes us fall back to hell where we were born.
“Save me please”
From my sins, and miseries that are pushing me away from my friends, and my love ones to a place a pray no other soul will ever see a place I pray that it was made just for me to live.
After he finished reading, I looked around the room as the reaction was mixed from the various teachers. One younger teacher yawned. Some were very curious and asked why he would even consider joining a gang.
Remember, there was no mother and father or faith and spirituality in his life during the time he joined the gang.
He also questioned himself as to how he got detoured like he did for so long on a path of destruction as all he wanted to do was to go to school and play football.
I think it is impossible to see oneself. The analogy shared with me is that it is like trying to look at a herd of animals through binoculars. You just can’t see yourself.
I just listened without judgement. To me, it seemed that perhaps the gang filled that void of not having a family as well as his need for belonging and acceptance. I had the feeling a few of the other teachers were able to “get it” too.
Regardless, he found his way out and left behind the gangs, drugs and years of rehab. He went on to become a good teacher. He was the most respectful person in the class of teachers while I was preparing them for the exam. He even would ask me for permission to go to the bathroom.
I feel his story needs to get out if presented in the right way and at the right venue to help and inspire others. We don’t hear enough of these success stories.
During one of my classes which I taught recently I suspected drug use among a few of the students and one student even mentioned he was friends with a “narco” or member of a drug cartel here in Mexico. We even lost one classmate along the way to drugs. I remember him speaking in one of my previous classes that his father was his hero. He also stated he has not seen him in over ten years. I can’t help but wonder what will become of him. Perhaps some of the inspiring videos or discussions will have planted a seed.
I approached our school facilitator and asked if I could bring that teacher to speak to my class to share his story and perhaps get the class to think about the consequences of their decisions which will master their lives whichever direction they take.
This teacher is into weight lifting and not only looks intimidating but also commands resect when he talks. I feel people would have listened to him.
But my idea was vetoed because the concern was that the teacher’s backstory would make him look bad and bring negative judgement upon him.
He was confident sharing his story and even gave me permission to use his full name in my blog. But to respect the school administrators I decided not to list his name.
Perhaps this teacher is an excellent example of the lost sheep or the Prodigal Son returning home. Both of whom were as, if not more, worthy than the 99% self-righteous. Perhaps some lessons just can’t be learned in our Father’s house.
Jesus “church” happened on a mountainside, a marketplace, or in someone’s home. “When people talk of church today, it’s often in reference to a physical structure,” writes Ethel Baker in this Sentinel’s cover story. “But to Jesus,” she adds, “church hinged on one thing: the ever-present Christ, the truth and spirit of God and His creation” . (From the January 17, 2011 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)
My HOPE for my students when they leave my class and move on is that they all have good lives. I can see the sacredness in them that I was unable to see in myself at their age because like some I believed the lie that I was “less than” or “unequal” for being different. Sometimes the worst kind of bully can be one’s own mother or even a teacher in class instruction. Both of whom stated we don’t want gays in our family or churches.
I honestly believe that God, Jesus or Mrs. Eddy would respond to them by saying: NOT IN MY NAME!
Perhaps this like so many other of my posts is a prayer for all those who didn’t make it, didn’t have a voice or just suffered in silence.
Perhaps it’s also time for forgiveness. Somebody once told me if you don’t know where to start then start with yourself and your own family. But what about the train wreck left behind I asked? Well, then look at what Christ Jesus went through.
May God Bless us all and the people we serve.
Truth, Wisdom, Love and Sincerity, to ALL Mankind.