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So many times, people define themselves by what they do for a living or what they do for fun. Others find their identity in what people say about them or in mistakes they have made. For those like myself who have a criminal record, identifying with the things that have been said about me and the mistakes I have made not only set me on a bad course in life, they almost led to me self-destructing.


I will not rehash a lot of this here as you can find it in my bio and my testimony on this website. Let me just say that I believed I was worthless, dumb, ugly, and that I would amount to nothing because that’s what a lot of folks said about me. Now, it was not all bad. People also said a lot of good things about me, but I could not take them to heart because I was so severely damaged emotionally and did not like myself. When I became a convicted felon it really got bad then. We are among the most reviled people on earth. I carried a lot of guilt and shame over the crime I had committed both before and after I got saved, so much so that in combination with other factors discussed in my bio and testimony I reoffended. That made the guilt and shame even worse because when I came out of prison the first time I truly did not ever want to do what I did again.


For much of my life as a Christian I had a hard time believing that God actually forgave me for what I did. Not having offended anymore for a long period of time yet having to deal with additional consequences three years after I had gotten out of prison this last time only reinforced that belief. I thought that the only reason God created me was to show his displeasure toward convicted felons. I do not believe in abortion, but I thought that if an exception were to be made then my mother should have aborted me. That way I never would have came into the world to cause the pain and destruction that I did. I never would have been around to embarrass my family. If all I had to look forward to was hellfire and damnation, why did it even matter anymore if I did the right thing or not? With all that in mind, I experienced a severe alcoholic relapse which eventually landed me in the emergency room, vomiting blood from a gastric hemorrhage.  It was then that I knew I did not really want to die after all, and God had mercy on me because the bleeding stopped. I was spared whereas many others have died from this same sort of hemorrhage. This was in the early morning hours of September 28, 2012. In the wake of all this I re-evaluated my view of God and my purpose in life.


In the years that have passed I have experienced some heartache. An engagement to be married ended, not at the altar, but in a heart-rending breakup. Several close relatives have passed away, including my beloved maternal grandmother in February 2020. There have been times of church hurt. But it has not been all bad. It was found to be unconstitutional to be forced to face additional consequences as I was not mandated at sentencing to do anything else except to serve my sentence, so the major issue I had been hit with went away. In November 2017 I experienced real deliverance, led in it by a pastor full of the Spirit of God. Some Christian brothers also helped me through my issues. My family support has been outstanding. Above all, God has shown me in innumerable ways that He loves me beyond my furthest imagining. Nothing that comes into my life, good or bad, is without a purpose. That does not mean I want to suffer. I don’t, but if I do, the Holy Spirit is right there in my heart to comfort, guide, and strengthen me. Jesus has made it abundantly clear that I have been forgiven. One of my prayers is that He will heal those whom I have caused harm to, and save their souls if they are lost. I have also forgiven myself.


I will always have some regret for any harm I have caused to anyone, but I will not sink into self-pity and self-destruction anymore. There will be people who will never forgive me. Many even in church will never believe that convicted felons can change or be helped even though they regularly speak of the power of God to set people free (ironic, isn’t it?). There will be those who would love to see me and others like me dead. I get that—but I will never again allow any such things as these to define me. My identity is in Jesus. The same is true of all Christians. Our identity is in Jesus. If you are a believer and you are struggling with doubts about who you are and about how God sees you, I encourage you to get into His Word and prayer and find out for yourself just how much He loves you and cherishes you. I will leave you with a few such verses; these have helped me in my journey out of self-loathing and into the light of the Almighty’s love:


Psalm 103:8-14:  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.


Psalm 139:17-18:  How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You.


John 17:20-26:I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”


Romans 8:28:  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.


Ephesians 1:3-6:  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.


Romans 8:35-39:  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Philippians 1:6:  …being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;…


Psalm 23:6:  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.



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