Limping along, I continue to train in His ways, learning a myriad number of corrections that need to be made along the way, from the program, institution as well as on the court. I am thankful He is patient, or a term the Bible uses I like better in this case, long suffering. I picture God waiting patiently for me to return to Him, much like the prodigal son, and suffering because I am so slow to learn and don’t quickly get the point, even often for a long time. I know I must follow this path if I want to get through this program and make my first board next March. Not easy, and there are many naysayers, but that is the goal I am working towards.
I am learning new things daily from the counselors in the program. Cycles of behavior, things to look for and things to avoid to prevent re-offending. Often it is basic information presented in a way that makes us look at ourselves in a different light, even from our victim’s point of view. Of course each counselor is different in their discussing these things and leading us to a clearer vision. And while we are to focus on ourselves and not others, certain findings have affected our trust level of those instructing us.
For example, the lone male adviser had a wife and three young children we found out. Yet he decided to leave them and take up with someone he spent more time with: a younger, single female counselor in our program. And have a baby with her. Yet they are qualified, in the DOCS system, to instruct us on appropriate conduct, offender free actions, and owing our behaviors. Many discussed their hypocrisy rather than program material, and I could understand their point. The old ‘do as I say not as I do’ mentality does not sit well with many of my program mates. It was a hot topic back in the dorm most days. It was also why little respect is often shown them in class as well as during the Friday in-dorm program meetings, with side conversations, ridicule and sarcasm abounding.
It seems that type of inexcusable behavior is normal inside corrections with the CO’s as well. Tales of guards getting caught having oral sex performed on them by counselors or staff are well documented and even esteemed by some. I knew some indiscretions occurred as I had found back at Fishkill when I replaced the grievance clerk because of his affairs with a female officer. So nothing surprises me anymore, especially when I see CO’s show favoritism and rule breaking allowances toward some and harshness and even cruelty to others. I know the hierarchy and respect them even when they don’t deserve it, as that is what the Bible teaches in many places and forms, respecting those in authority. I have learned so much more about such things after my many Bible studies which delve into these topics. Oh that the CO’s would read and understood them as well. Not easy to always follow, but necessary, else chaos would rule. (although it seems it already does)
I am actually blessed in the supervision department as well as the CO who oversaw the call-out office where I worked those first few weeks here was a decent guy who actually liked me I thought,or at least was civil and treated me like a person and not just an inmate or number as so many do. In ISOP, there are the same regular officers most days. The other day one called me aside and asked me where I got that good jump shot he had heard about. I said something about God giving me a talent, but he said he and others had heard about it. I had never seen him before the program, so I knew they had their communication network just like the inmates did. Fortunately it was for good and not for evil. It seemed to me he backed off me after that, not giving much mind.
On the court, I also learned there were certain unwritten rules. The inmate referees had their own axes to grind I found, and used the opportunity to express themselves, shall we say, to their advantage. I continue to keep my head down and don’t comment to others – ref’s, CO’s or counselor by the way – about their behavior. But on the court, grudges seemed to be held. Maybe because I was in a sex offender dorm and program. Maybe because I was white and over 50% of the inmates in the DOCS State facilities were black. Maybe because we were winning and beating their friend’s team. Maybe a thousand other reasons. That is why I was ecstatic to find out civilians were officiating the playoffs which we were now in.
Daily life presents constant opportunities for me to show my new found faith – and way of being. As Rick Warren says in the first sentence of his book Purpose Driven Life, it is not about me. Since first reading that book I have attempted and trained to make that evident, though I seem to count the failures more than the successes. I just finished reading that book, having taken it out on loan from the Prison Fellowship meetings I had just started attending. In the program, I contribute but keep my mouth shut when I, in the past, would have made sarcastic remarks in the guise of being funny. Or in the dorm, keep my mouth shut when I could gloat or brag about my accomplishments of the past, or even of my work inside. After all, I reasoned, the only reason I was safe and hadn’t been beat up like other sex offenders was because of God’s protection, not of my own doing. I really had no other explanation. It definitely is not about me I had to remember.
So I feel if I can do the corrections in here, I can do them anywhere. Train, train, train. Once again, practice makes progress, not perfection.