At times, it seems like a little sign has floated over the top of me with arrows pointing, saying “ex-felon”. There are some things that I just can’t seem to get past. A few weeks ago I was laying on the couch on a Sunday afternoon after playing a round of golf with some friends when I was interrupted by a rapping on the front door of my home…a fifth wheel trailer. As I opened the door, I was greeted by a deputy sheriff. For a second, my heart seemed to skip a beat. Then he kindly asked me for my name and then ID that could verify it. He was simply doing his job…confirming that I was living where I said I am. A small thing…but certainly not an everyday occurrence for most of us.
As a result of the uncertainty of my life, I’ve been hesitant to move forward as quickly as I probably could. Still facing up to 23 more months of supervision, there are some things that are difficult to arrange. A simple trip out of state…even for a day requires at least two weeks of advance notice to get the proper permission. A trip out of the country is out of the question. Moving into an apartment complex or a condo community isn’t possible because of the restrictions that I still face. For the past three years, I’ve worn the prison issue glasses that I had on when I was released because money is tight, and frankly they still worked.
But the last month has brought a great deal of change in my life. For reasons that I can’t really articulate, I made the decision that “enough is enough”. While I don’t exactly have control over my life, I choose to move forward. A trip to the optometrist resulted in new glasses. Not a significant change in my appearance on the outside, but a gargantuan impact on how I see myself from the inside. They were the last “moniker” that I wore from my incarceration. There are no more visible external reminders of that dark period of my life.
The change didn’t stop there. I love antiques and every opportunity I have, I will visit an antique shop or mall and usually walk out with some little treasure. Many of the items, I give away. I buy them because they are unique and they represent a different time…maybe a better time. About a month ago, my sister Deb suggested (perhaps in jest) that I should get a business license and open a shop, or at least become a dealer. The idea resonated deeply within me and it has turned into a reality. Three weeks ago, I applied for the business license and became a small business owner. Angelwings Antiques was born. Scripture teaches us that in Christ, we are a new creation…that the old is gone and the new has come. Through God’s grace, I’ve become “that” new creation. But now I’ve become a new creation in a different way as well. While I will always be an “ex-felon”, I’ve chosen to become more. I’m a business owner and a construction company manager. I’m a singer in the church choir and a Sunday school teacher. I’m a loving brother, a loving ex-husband and a good friend. That old label is gone…a new label has come.