I recently had the privilege of being able to work inside a prison with a small group of men who were all due to be released. I was do a workshop on employability; what do employers look for? maybe some interview skills and such like. As I was preparing, the thought struck me: “these men can look this stuff up on the internet just the same as me. What they need is hope, change of attitude and mindset, and to know that good character is more desirable than skill sets and qualifications.”
I was already familiar with research that has been carried out into the idea that Redemptive Script was a key to changing the way a persistent criminal offender sees themselves and thus is able to break free from the cycle of re-offending and be truly rehabilitated. The problem with implementing this theory is the part about ‘how people see themselves’. The fact is that over 80% of prisoners come from backgrounds of social deprivation, abuse, poverty or broken homes, and their self-confidence and sense of identity are very damaged and negative. They are not really able to write a positive script for what their life might look like in the future.
Enter the Redemptive Script Writer…
As a visionary person, it’s relatively easy to see future potential and possibility and whether you want to call it a ‘gift’ of merely a skill, writing out positive words and letters of encouragement has been something I have done for many years. My desire to see permanent changes for the better in people has always been a part of who I am and so using this gift as a way to bring hope and a new perspective to those who can’t see clearly makes perfect sense. By now you may be asking what a redemptive script actually looks like so here is one that I wrote for someone in prison recently:
I see a clay figure of a man that is constantly being squished and remade, squished and remade, over and over. And this is how you feel. That your life is not in your own hands and that you are always having to change to fit in with how you think others want you to be. You are often pulled and stretched in different directions, but you feel that you have no control over your life and you don’t really know who you truly are. Your life has many scars and some of these are real and physical from being in fights or from self-harming.
And then I see a picture of a piece of clay being formed into a pot on a potter’s wheel. It’s a type of jug that would be used for carrying water. But I see that it has cracks and the water drips out. There’s a lovely story of an old lady who had two pots and one was cracked and one was not. And every day she had to fetch water and every day the pot with the crack dripped water along the path. One day the pot apologised for its flaw, but the lady said that she knew about the crack and had planted flower seeds along the path which had grown masses of beautiful flowers which she was able to pick and enjoy.
If you have a cracked pot and put a light inside it, the most amazing patterns can shine through. Even though you may feel like you have so many cracks that you are no use, you are of great value to the world for there is no one exactly like you. And you have gifts and talents that no one else has. And the very core of who you are is totally unique and the purpose for your life can only be fulfilled by you, and through you, and you alone. Some cracks can be mended but the ones that can’t be fixed can still be things of great beauty in our lives when we allow the light of love to shine through into the dark places that surround us.
The impact on the men was quite tangible and very positive. It was quite amazing to see the faces transforming right before my eyes. To witness a spark of light and hope being ignited inside them as they listened to these words and dared to believe them..