Prison life has beat the hellion out of me. It has helped me to learn not to be hardheaded when God is trying to teach me something. For these lessons, I thank God.

Life is a painful struggle, but only the dead need not struggle. For these struggles, I thank God.

Trials and tribulations have made me stronger, and that pain has mysteriously turned into beauty. For these trials, tribulations, and pain, I thank God.

I can use my strengths to help others who are going through what I have endured, for what good is being strong unless it can be used to help the weak? For these opportunities, I thank God.

Honest friendship, deep conversation, and a good laugh even in the midst of chaos. For these blessings, I thank God.

The opportunity to focus my energy into making needed changes in my thinking — that even behind these bars, I can make a positive shift in my outlook. For these changes, I thank God.

Food, water, and shelter: For these basic necessities, which so many lack, I thank God.

For getting into shape and living a healthier lifestyle removed from my addictions, I thank God.

For all those who go out of their way to make things harder than they need to be; for all the inmates who whine and complain about anything and everything; for all the friends and family who turned their backs on me in my darkest hour and chose hate instead of love, anger instead of compassion, animosity instead of understanding, and rancor instead of forgiveness; for all the frustrations that come with a life lived inside a concrete jungle on the fringes of society — all of which drove me to do what I didn’t before: give my life to Jesus Christ. For all these people, I thank God.

For this soul-saving intervention that has opened my eyes and heart to the importance of real family, loyal friends, unflinching love, and to the God who made it all.

For all of this, I will forever thank God.

Living Hope The Gospel of Jesus Christ

Written By

Leo Cardez (pen name) is an award-winning inmate writer. His work has been published in Under the Sun, The Abolitionist/Critical Resistance, The Crime Report, Prisoner Express, Beat Within, and other publications. He was a finalist for the New Press anthology What We Know. Leo is the director of the Dixon CC prison writing initiative and is a regular contributor to Prison Health News. He has worked as a prison GED tutor and currently works as a clerk at the prison eye lab. Leo is incarcerated in Dixon, IL.

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