by Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew
Many people are not aware that one of my friends is incarcerated. I remember when I first met her nearly 15 years ago. She had a beautiful face with a pretty smile. She was a great mother but her experiences were not the easiest. Her relationships with men were difficult and often painful. Nevertheless, she preserved and continued to pursue her education. She ultimately received her Master’s degree and had a prominent position. My friend was well-respected in the community and loved. What I didn’t know was that this amazing woman was still struggling. She moved into another role and yet, external factors were plowing down on her ability to succeed as she had done previously. This friend was struggling and with the limited information I had about her situation, I was trying to help her professionally do something different. I heard it in her voice a few weeks prior that something was wrong but after inquiring, she told me she would be alright. I left it alone and moved on.
I got a call when I was out of town that she was in the hospital and when I returned, it was my desire to visit her. As I was getting ready to go, I received a call that she was in the infirmary instead. I was baffled because I didn’t understand why she was in jail. My friend was in an accident. She hit several cars, injured one person severely and killed another. She was driving drunk. I was hurt for her and for her family. Her children were young adults with the exception of one who was in high school. I was also saddened for the loss the other family experienced. Typically, I couldn’t understand drunk drivers and I had no tolerance for what they had done but this was different. I knew the person. I remember watching families who supported their relatives who did bad things and I was angry. It’s not that I have forgotten the pain or the death that resulted, it was terribly wrong—no excuses. She took a life. And yet, it was hard to watch someone who was so gifted, so talented make a very bad decision that I knew.
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Yet, I realized that so often, we all make bad decisions. Some are small and others have lasting consequences. I have made some bad decisions. The difference is that my friend’s prison is physical and apparent to all of us. She is paying the cost for her decision—it is a consequence. My friend’s physical prison was a result of the many years of a mental prison she had been in. She found a tool to help her cope, alcohol. Many of us are also incarcerated in our thinking. We are imprisoned by our thoughts. Thoughts of fear, insecurity, worthlessness plague us, keeping us from truly being free and experiencing life in the way that we could. Her decision has impacted the lives of so many. Our decisions have similar impact. When we don’t live in a way that is honoring to our authentic selves, we, too, impact others. Our prisons often capture others in the snare of our situations and they become affected by our decisions. Our destinies are intertwined and when we are not purposeful, we might impair others who are connected to us.
Some questions to ponder:
- What is keeping you in bondage—mentally, physically, and spiritually—from being your best?
- What is your tool to cope? My friend used alcohol. Some of us dull our pain with relationships, sex, work, activity or resentment.
- What step can you take to experience true freedom?
My friend has been sentenced to jail for a long time. I think often about what if she had made a different decision. Her experience has taught me so much and I realize that I have the opportunity each day as the sun rises to do something different, to make wiser decisions that will help my life and ultimately, touch the lives of others’ in a meaningful, positive way. There are so many lessons I’ve learned from this experience and in the following weeks, I will share my reflections on forgiveness and the connection to freedom it can provide for our journey.
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