I confided with my mother who suggested that I go west for opportunity. She had a brother in Indiana that was willing to take me in until I got acclimated. I journeyed to Indiana and found a church on 38th Street that had the same principles that I had grown accustomed, but along with moving, those old demons came along too. I was a clean, ambitious, upstanding college grad with clear eyes, but that didn’t last for long, within the wide open space of the mid-west; I began to drink again.
After a while, drinking led to other unhealthy habits and all of my Christianity became useless. It was as if I was on East Fifth Street again representing my hood. I withdrew and became a person who frequented bars, played music on the jukebox and always had a quick smile, but I was being eaten from the inside by the righteousness that once enveloped my inner man. Deception became commonplace and my life became littered with failure after failure, and while straddling the fence, I married a woman who feigned pregnancy.
My failures were internal, and I felt compelled to harness every negative emotion while using my intellect to rationalize walking away from God. I failed myself because I sought to escape reality and my word was not my bond to myself. Being accomplished was downplayed, and I traded my birth-right for a nice stiff drink in a hoop-ride while I laid back. I worked in a supermarket and a sports bar until I continued to leap jobs and learned the mortgage business and got my first teaching gig, teaching kids with dyslexia how to read.
Nevertheless, my life became intertwined with despair, because I had fallen after having experienced His goodness, but continued to wallow in the misery of sin, being further separated from His grace. I would not surrender my will to God, even while attending church; afterwards on Sunday evenings, I went to the bar.
I needed the power of God again like I once experienced in the shut-ins and Fridays when we would be in church sometimes until after midnight, 6am prayer and the twenty one day fasts, and when the men still wore the black suit jackets on long hot Sundays in Church before our Pastor put in the air conditioning. I was hot and sweated, but I was saved, singing in the choir and attending the altar continually, and we never let a lady walk down the steps of the pulpit unescorted. I knew I forsook God, after seven years in the church learning about Jesus and being a prayer warrior inside and on the bricks. I wasn’t a sell-out, but I really was; sin I craved and the flesh I obeyed.
Soon after arriving in Indiana, a cycle of recidivism began occurring over a twelve year period of time, where I sat in front of over twenty Judges after being arrested. I entered and left jail and prison many times, usually for theft, robbery, domestic violence, drug possession and high speed police chases and my only fear was in the irreversibility of the harm I would potentially cause another, if someone stepped out of line. Inside I was known as ‘The Teacher from NJ’. I didn’t have jail house religion, and I needed to start practicing what I preached after I got out from being on vacation. Apparently, I did have Jail House Religion but God used that to add to my faith. I despised the label because I knew God was real and I was the one, who was really messed up. I just got tired of the endless struggle. I knew first hand that the life of a sinner was cold and harsh. I knew that the righteous are never forsaken and his seed never begs for bread, but when you leave His will, there is no question that you will be forsaken and you will beg for bread at the end. I no longer wanted to bring shame to Jesus’ Holy name. I chose to allow the prison recidivism rate to drop by one, and I allowed the drug cartels and the alcohol producers to become a little poorer by non-participation.