Including Inmates in Your Merry Season

Warning: I’m going to gush about a man today.

The first time I heard Bryan Stevenson speak was last summer at a leadership event. By the end of his speech I was on my feet, both incredibly moved by his story, and also incredibly shocked by my ignorance.

I heard him again last weekend at a service. And dudes! Get his book. Just Mercy. You will be so glad you read it!

He’s a ninja of kindness and tenacity (also a lawyer) who is working to make huge changes in the (deeply broken) prison systems in America.

He’s also an INCREDIBLE speaker!

You can watch a version of his talk here.

What’s been circling in my head this week since hearing him is…

2.3 million people are spending this holiday season incarcerated. And as many kids, spending Christmas without those parents.

I know… the prisons… one more broken thing to be overwhelmed by…

Or…

One more chance to lean in. To get close to a topic. To learn about something. And to wonder about what else it could look like and to care.

So I started wondering…

How can I include inmates in my holiday this year?

In my thoughts?
In my list of things I send warmth and love to in my meditations or prayers?
In my gift giving?

Did you know if you google prison penpal, there are many ways to send prisoners letters?

And that Angel Tree is a really cool organization getting gifts to prisoners’ kids?

What gift could you be in a stranger’s life? Especially one the world has kind of forgotten about?

I was really touched someone brought this to my mind last week.

And thus, I bring it to yours.

We have so much. Where else can we a spread a bit of that joy? And what gift might that unleash in your own heart as well?

(And read that book! Just Mercy. Seriously, it’s so good!)

Do you suck at apologizing?

I have to admit, being wrong and apologizing are not two of the things I am best at.  Nor are they my favorites.

But if you always have to be right, you can’t actually receive contribution from anybody else!

I’ve been looking at this topic for years and getting better… and yet… when something was brought to my attention yesterday that I had done that really wasn’t cool, I still had the hardest time forming a true apology in my head.

I kept hearing myself sneak in reason and justifications into my apology about why I had done what I did. I noticed I wanted to say “I’m sorry but..” which is really to say, “It’s your fault” or “I’m not sorry.”

I’ve made a video about this not so favorite topic with some keys to keep in mind:

If you would like to create an apology, a true apology, one in which the energy of the conflict changes, there are a few key things to remember:

  1. Lower your barriers- push down anything that makes you want to protect or defend yourself. More on this 
  2. Cut out all your reasons and justifications.  It doesn’t matter why you chose to eat your dad’s pie or say something rude, the point is, you did it!  “but” and “because” do not belong in a true apology.
  3. Try using the phrase “I’m sorry.  I was wrong.  What can I do to make up for the damage I’ve done?” If done sincerely, it is an incredibly powerful phrase.

While being wrong or apologizing is not necessarily fun, it’s sometimes required. Sometimes you are wrong— at least from their point of view.

I made my apology this morning.  It wasn’t easy.  But I’m still alive! And the space and lightness in my universe has expanded. I’m very grateful for this choice.

I may have a ways to go on this topic before my stomach stops churning with the thought I may be wrong. But I’m not willing to live being right and righteous and fighting for my point of view.  I’m not willing to limit my own awareness and contribution in that way.  So I’ll keep practicing.

Is there anything in your life you need to apologize for?

What would it create if you were willing to be wrong?