Letter to a Young Man in Jail

Dear Micah:

I’m really sorry to hear that you’ve gotten yourself in trouble like this. But you know, every day we have the opportunity to make a thousand tiny decisions, and together, those decisions form our future. You’ve made some bad decisions in the past year, and I know you know what decisions I am talking about.

One definition of maturity is the ability to look forward and project yourself into the future. I hope this jail time gives you the opportunity to reflect on past mistakes and make some changes and set some standards for your decision-making process in the future. Every time you make a decision to do the right thing, you’re creating a future Micah who is a wise man, a good husband and father and a good provider for his family. Every time you make a bad decision, you create a future that might include drug addiction, disease, heartbreak, fatherless children and prison.

And these decisions include everything: the way you speak to your parents, the friends you keep, where you live, who you allow into your living space, what you do to pay the rent and whether or not you smoke that dope. It includes what clothes you wear, how you carry yourself, whether or not you look someone in the eye when you talk with them and how firm your handshake is. It includes whether or not you finish your education, or go into the military or get a good job, and all the steps between here and there. Millions of tiny decisions, every moment, every day. Including the ones you’re making right now with every one you encounter—other inmates, the corrections officers, your attorney, everyone.

Life hands each of us some real lemon-sucks some times. Many times we don’t have control over what happens to us, but we always have absolute control over how we react to it.

We all make mistakes. But there comes a time–a pivot point–when we decide who we want to be, how we want to live, and we begin to act in that manner. What follows is a wonderful life, a positive life filled with adventure and sublime reward.  I bet you would hear that same story from almost any person who is living the kind of life you’d like to live some day. They encountered a turning point, and chose to make positive decisions. I hope this is your turning point.

Some time you’ll need to make that tiny decision to start making better decisions. Visualize who you want to be in five years. Ten. Twenty. Choose friends that you can live up to, friends who challenge you to be a better man. Making a break from the old and establishing the new takes courage, but you know we’re all behind you. Now is a good time to make that change. If you don’t do it now, then when?

One good decision that you will never regret is to listen to those who care the most for you. At the top of that list is your mother. She has been through many trials in her life, and has become a strong, competent, wise woman as the result of the thousands of positive decisions she has made in her life. She will never steer you wrong.

Take care of yourself in there, Micah, and never, ever, forget how much we love you.

No matter what.


Filed under Discipline, Possibilities, relationships, Spirituality

4 responses to “Letter to a Young Man in Jail

  1. What a smart post. It should be required reading for every kid. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Just came across your blog.. a very nice enlightening post..

  3. MECO

    How much more could we all be if we looked more at the moment; the split second decision? That decision that seemed so insignificant, yet it is the last dangling thread which unravels a life or it could be the beginning threads with which to begin anew.

  4. jackie

    What a blessing to read this…..

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