Willie Spears

Willie Spears

My time in prison

This weekend I spent time in prison. This is not my first time in prison. As a licensed minister and motivational speaker I have spoken in several prisons over the years. However, this weekend I went to visit my cousin in a North Florida prison. I try to visit him about five times a year.

My cousin is serving a life sentence, but somehow he lifts my spirits every time I visit. The love we have for each other is rare and unparalleled. It’s unconditional. It’s not based on my coaching record, my good behavior, or my past accomplishments. When I leave him I find myself standing in the presence of a love I don’t deserve.

As I leave him, I hurt because he is serving a sentence he doesn’t deserve. He is actually serving five life sentences. At least four of my former players have committed murder and none of them were sentenced to this many years in prison. I am not saying my cousin shouldn’t be punished, although he says he is innocent and an organization called The Innocent Project accepted his application after one day when it usually takes weeks. What I am saying is that he is in prison now and no one knows for how long.

Are you in prison?

Not a literal prison, but mentally.

Are you in prison?

Many of us are not incarcerated, but we are locked into a way of thinking, a way of living, or a way of perceiving others. This is a type of prison. Recently, award winning music artist Kanye West performed in a Texas prison.

Kanye has a new found faith. He told late night show host James Corden that he was asleep and now he is awake. In other words, he was in prison to his old way of thinking and now he has the liberty to think in a whole new way. We all have the capacity to change our minds, try new things, experience life in a whole new way, but we have to get outside our comfortable prison walls.

Could you imagine someone being happy that they are incarcerated? Could you imagine someone settling for a prison cell instead of striving for freedom? I hope I am never comfortable with a closed minded perspective.

We all have experienced that closed minded relative that makes everyone uncomfortable over the holidays when the topic of politics, race, or religion is brought up. I don’t want to be that person.

My cousin does not want to remain in prison for the rest of his life. He wants to experience freedom. I believe in order to experience something new, we must be willing to try something new.

My son experienced something new this past weekend. For the first time in his life he defeated me in putt-putt golf. He was so excited he actually cried. He reminded me that I had two l’s in my first name because I am a loser. We went out to eat after his ‘stroke of luck’ gave him the victory. When we got ready to leave he started to write his name on his togo box. After writing the first two letters of his name, he scratched them out and replaced them with the word winner.

I have never been one to allow my son to beat me in anything. If we were playing Monopoly, I’m sure we both would want the ‘get out of jail free’ card. Today, you have a ‘get out of jail free’ card.

What jail do you need to break out of in order to experience true liberty?

Willie Spears is a teacher, coach, author, minister and motivational speaker. He has been awarded teacher and coach of the year. He speaks to thousands each year through his business The Willie Spears Experience. Willie may be reached at www.williespears.com.

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