Beyond the Banter: Regrets … I’ve had a few




I’ve been having conversations with prisoners for many years; men who’ve gone off the rails and found themselves shut away from society and denied access to all that we might take for granted. Many of them can identify some reasons why they got caught up in a life of crime. Many make excuses for their behaviour and seek to justify their actions. Some, from a more professional background, may classify themselves differently to hardened criminals. They are nevertheless, ashamed of where they are now, given their background and upbringing.

All these men have had to come to terms with what has happened and the consequences of their actions. For some, the experience of prison is enough to make them vow to never return. Others are stuck in a revolving door and find it hard to break entrenched patterns of behaviour or addiction, and, sooner or later, they wind up back inside. Many of them could have been spared from going off the rails if only there had been some accountability, some example to follow, someone to lead the way, or some positive influence in their lives.

Conversations with all these men (from widely differing backgrounds and faith viewpoints) have given me an insight into how easy it is to get on a downward spiral of thinking and behaviour, and end up lost. This applies equally whether we are ‘inside’ or ‘outside’. Few of us can say we haven’t regretted something we did or said. Many of us have had moments of madness when we did something totally out of character, but which had dire consequences. Some of us have made poor choices or had spectacular public failures. None of us could claim to be immune or unaffected by life’s twists and turns.

Like the rails of a train track, joy and pain run side by side. I’ve come to believe that experiences in life, whether good or bad, can teach us something. It is possible to find hope in the darkest of seasons, restoration after the greatest failure and wholeness beyond every heartache.

Main photo credit: Matthew Ansley via Unsplash

Bob Fraser

Bob Fraser is a singer-songwriter, men’s group leader and Regional Director for CVM aiming to open up conversations about life and faith.

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