I Am Ashamed of This Crime
My name is Justin, I'm 39 and have been incarcerated since October 15, 2011. I'm here on a sexual charge that happened in 2006. I am ashamed of this crime. The very thing I looked down on all my life, I had committed.
I got married at a young age (17) and knew nothing about marriage or how to raise a family. The girl I would marry (16) was pregnant when we met. I took the parental role for this child. Neither her mom nor I had any role model for how a family should live or function. Both of us came from broken homes.
By the age of 23 I had three beautiful children with this woman. Our marriage was rocky and unstable. In 1999 she was pregnant with our 5th child. During this pregnancy we separated because of an affair she had. When the child was born, she was 2 months premature and had several complications.
While we were in and out of the hospital, we were also in and out of the courtroom having our 4 children taken from us by my wife's family saying we were unfit. We lost our daughter 30 days after she was born to sepsis. We lost everything; our children were taken away, I lost my job and our home.
This was life changing for me and we started attending church, but like seed that was planted among thorns and rocks, it would eventually be choked out and we were right back to our old ways. I had an addiction to porn and she had an addiction to getting involved with other men.
We probably justified our actions because of what the other was doing. We did get our kids back and things would seem to get back to normal but we were still unstable, financially and spiritually. She felt she should stay home and raise the kids. This was something we argued about throughout our marriage. I would go through jobs about as much as we moved, trying to find the perfect fit.
In 2006 we would again lose our home because of poor decisions. At this point in our marriage we hardly had any physical contact. I felt worthless and alone; this would be where my crime was committed. I'm not justifying my actions by any means but I realize why it happened even though it shouldn't have. I realized something had to change.
We started attending a little church and in July 2007 my stepdaughter, my youngest son, and myself were baptized. I had given my life to Christ and was ready to serve. In 2008 we moved again and started attending a church in Adrian. We got involved with the youth ministry but things at home had still not changed.
My relationship with my wife had gotten worse and the damage I had caused my stepdaughter was starting to show in her rebellion against me. Again I felt like my world was collapsing. Instead of seeking help through the church and doing things God's way, I thought I had a better way. In June of 2009 I took an over the road trucking job and that would be the last time I saw my family.
I ended up moving in with my mom in Tennessee and working for a local trucking company there. My mom would ask me to go to church with her but I would just respond, “I'm not ready yet.”
In 2010 I got word that there was warrant for my arrest but just denied the allegations and kept living my life. In October of 2011 I was arrested and served two months in Tennessee before being transported to Michigan.
I prayed that same prayer everybody does: “Lord, I promise to change my ways, just don't let me go to prison.” That wasn't his plan. When God puts a calling on one's life, he wants that person to be all in. I hear so many people say, “I don't want to attend church while I'm in jail because I'd be using church as a crutch.”
But what's wrong with seeking God while I'm at the very bottom of the barrel? What's wrong with going to my creator and saying, “You know what Lord, I messed up and I do need your help!”?
I have rededicated my life to Christ and I stand on Hebrews 11:6:
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (KJV).
He is my life source now, not just on Sunday or when I pray, HE is part of my everyday life. Because of Jesus I have life. Because of HIS sacrifice, I'm forgiven and can give others hope. I love HIM with all my heart and want to take all the necessary precautions to make sure I stay on that path.
This is why I'm writing you this letter. I am no longer married and only in contact with one of my children and have no family here in Michigan to parole to. I believe God has a place for me in Grand Rapids. This is my story in a nutshell and I thank you for taking the time out of your day to hear what I had to say.
I thank the Lord for ministries like yours to give hope to the future I know God has for me. Thank you again! God's grace be upon you and the families in this ministry.
Justin -- Originally published in March 2014