Probation was two years. It did not infringe on anything, other than a regularly scheduled meeting with a nice man. I’m not sure when or why they stopped, but they did. I wish I knew his name. You can find encouragement in the strangest places; it was my probation office whom the Lord used to move me farther along, and eventually finding Him.
What You Want to Do?
Mr. Probation Man asked me during one of our times together what I wanted to do with my life. I told him that I wanted to finish high school, go to college, get an excellent job, and have a family. He told me that I was an unusual juvenile. Most of them did not have ambition, other than more crime. I was so encouraged that I wanted to get mom a, “My son is the best juvie on probation” bumper sticker for her car.
One of the questions he asked me was whether I was going to commute to college. I had never heard that word in my life. Being the cool kid that I was, I gave him a half-baked answer, hoping it would not reveal my ignorance. I said that I had not decided yet. After I got home, I looked up commute in the dictionary to see what I had not decided yet.
Whew! I out smarted him!
Walk This Way
The most significant benefit of the arrest and probation is how it stung me enough to pause and think about what I was doing with my life. Robby was already in prison. Joey was not doing well, and they were about to incarcerate him. They arrested Gary and Dwayne with me, so their lives were circling the drain too.
Dad was a habituated drunk, and mom was sleeping around with many men, including the police force. Let’s just say that my family was out of control. I had to decide if I was going to walk their way or make an about-face.
If you don’t know the Lord and want to change yourself, you pay attention to what’s working with others, assuming it’s legal, and you model it. So I cut my hair, stopped cursing, drinking, and smoking. Those things were the natural, common-sense things to amputate.
If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell (Matthew 5:29-30).
I figured I would limp through high school since I had no college plans. (I wish someone would have helped me to think about college and show me what I needed to do to get there.) I chose, instead, to become successful since I had a solid work ethic. I worked wherever I could.
I left home and moved into Mama Grant’s house when I was fifteen, and walked away from the 15 years of dysfunction that I had known. The next ten years were various forms of self-reformation, which had successes and failures.
My formula was simple. Get a job, save money, find a wife, and live happily ever after. What could possibly go wrong with that?
I had a job; I was finishing up high school, and I was saving money. Self-reform was in full effect. There were good times ahead, no doubt.
I did note how there was still something missing inside of me, even with the determination and plan to self-reform.