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Felix – Change

I like to think that good can be found in all of us. We were born with it, and then along our path in life, bad things twisted us away from it. This is why I believe strongly, in second chances. Even a snake in the grass deserves a second chance. Until you prove to me that no change has occurred, I will believe in you and what you say. Change is hard work, it comes out of an effort to surrender old habits that have become second nature to us.  And to develop new habits that mold us toward what we prefer to be.

This effort is not without its failings. Like quitting smoking, you start, you fail and you start again.  That is a manageable habit to change. No one is going to put you in jail if you fail. Anger management is important when making major changes in directions you have followed for a long time.

Felix had spent twenty years in federal prison for a number of charges he gathered in one afternoon. He life surrounded drugs, violence, and assaulting a police officer twenty years ago. He met my nephew in jail and was trying to help him stay out of trouble.  Jay (not his real name) is not the smartest knife in the draw and he is impulsive. Jay does the best he can but he has trouble picking his way through the scum that often gets put in jail to serve long-term sentences.  He tries to barter when he has little or nothing to work with. Promises are made base on what he thinks he will have to work with instead of what he really has available. Felix solved this for Jay clearing his debt more than once. He was teaching Jay the ropes, steering him away from those who want to use him and do harm.

When Felix was getting out he needed a place to go to. A home plan.  I offered him to stay at my house while he got his life together. Felix stated clearly that he did not want to go back to his previous way of life. He could have gone back there and tried to start over, but he was afraid to go back to where he was placed in jail, afraid to get sucked into the same gang again. We agreed to lend a hand and help him get started.

Felix did not want to stay at my house at first. He stayed instead at a shelter for the homeless at night and at our house during the day when not at appointments or work. I work evenings when he was at the shelter and spent my days driving him to appointments and work as needed. The shelter had some weird rules that allowed him only to stay for two weeks. After that, he needed to take a three-day break before returning to them. Or he could move to a more permanent location where he would pray and spend his days learning the Christian way of life, according to their plans. I am not familiar with their direction on the faith. It seems many churches have different viewpoints on what God wants for us or how we are supposed to get there.  Felix felt pressured to make a choice quickly. He said no. I can’t say I blame him. It was a bit fishy to me. I again extended the offer for him to live at my house temporarily. He reluctantly accepted.

I never charged him for staying at my house. We took him around to get his medical insurance started so he could get his required medicines. We found him a job at Sonic. He had his own room and granted him full kitchen privileges.  Felix had not been around women for twenty years. I think he forgot how to court in any fashion at all. There was friction when he dealt with them. His boss at Sonic was a young girl. He had issues with taking orders from her.

At home, a young single girl he liked said no to his advances and he could not understand that she was not interested in him. I counseled him on both issues. Told him to stop rushing for something that was not there. He was having issues adjusting. We at the house gave him room to work it out. We were firm with him, but not harsh. One night while I was at work, Felix got upset over some issue and wanted to leave the house after the shelters were closed. My wife Shirley called me at work in a panic because it was very cold outside. She knew it was unwise to be out on a night like that.

He is a grown man thirty plus years old. He knew it was cold out and no one was pushing him out into the cold. He wanted to go. He said something about being afraid he was going to hurt someone if he did not leave. I calmed the wife down and we let him leave. If he was worried he might hurt someone, then it was indeed time for him to leave.

We have seen Felix around from time to time. We have not maintained contact with him.  We were of two different worlds, two different cultures as well. I wish him well, he did help Jay stay out of trouble and even taught him a few skills while under his wing.

He is the only person from Jail I have attempted to aid/help upon release. It wasn’t a mistake and I would do it again, but differently. Thankfully God looked out for all of us and no one was hurt during those stressful days. I just did what I felt I was supposed to do as a Child of God, and share the bounty the Lord gave me with the needy. It was not to be the last time we did this either.

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