I hope everyone takes the time to relax and do something they enjoy over the weekend. When we reach the halfway point in each week, we can notice notice some internal fires beginning to fade out. I hope these words will be the spark needed to to pursue each day OnFire, and lead you to make an impact on the lives around you.
Over the weekend, I watched a documentary about a man who served twenty-one years on Death Row, convicted of a crime where DNA testing has since proven his innocence. The words from this man, Nicholas Yarris, struck me with such intensity, they’ve become laced within my thoughts for the past several days. His story impacted me for two reasons.
The first being the way Nicholas found freedom in the power of words. He read a thousand books in three years and taught himself 40-50 words a day bridging the gap between a limited vocabulary, and a healthier mindset.
The second reason was hearing how one prison guard, who is just one human like you and me; in one soul guided moment, said one sentence, “Yarris, go into that cell and grab those books.” Nicholas’s life changed at that moment. Even in the last days of his incarceration, when all of his belongings were taken from him, his mind and heart knew how to rewrite this moment, and his entire story. He was sad, at first, that everything was gone from his cell, but he decided that they unintentionally did him a favor.
“If you’re gonna take everything from me, Ok. Then instead, I think I’ll give myself everything.”
Nicholas began to dream and rewrite the life he was going to have after he walked out of his cell. That life he dreamed is the life he is living now. I am honored to be a part of a company with ongoing projects in a local prison; where the inmates receive coaching focused on writing out their stories and teaching them to transform that story into a legacy life.
I remember once telling a friend how fascinated I am by the myriad of brokenness we all face. Likewise, the different methods people use to either live with it or grow from it. Few people will make a deliberate, conscious choice to rewrite the worst experience one could fathom, into a catalyst of the most amazing experience one could only design from the far corners of their imagination. While pain may connect us, it’s hope that is the change agent setting hearts ablaze. That is what connects a thirty-something-year-old single mother, or a best-selling author to a homeless person on the streets of Dallas when we reach out to these precious, fragile lives, teaching them that they can rewrite their story.
Written by Lindsay Weir – Writer/Editor OnFire Books