Michael felt he had failed as both a son and a father. Looking back on his years growing up, he recalled the many times he'd let his father down. And when he thought back to the few experiences he'd shared with his son, he felt even worse.
Michael served his first prison term at 17. Since that time, he'd rarely spent more than a few months outside prison walls. To his father, Michael was little more than a voice on the phone asking for money. To his son 12-year-old son, he was just a guy who rarely came around.
But during his last stint behind bars, Michael gave his heart to Christ through the efforts of a local prison ministry. And when he'd completed his sentence, he was determined to stay on the new path, though it meant changing everything he knew about life.
"I came to The Foundry because of my drug abuse and my anger and attitude. I'd spent 12 years in prison because my anger stimulated my drug use. And the drugs never let me down, so it was hard to think about leaving them behind."
But Michael was determined to "work the program." As a result, he says, his thought patterns and people skills improved tremendously. "I used to look at the negative in every situation. Being in a maximum-security prison didn't help. But I've learned that every experience helps me be a better person."
Michael's son's mother watched with skepticism as he progressed through The Foundry's program. As he became more positive and loving, she saw he was striving to be a better man and a better parent.
"I used to say 'If it doesn't benefit me, I don't want any part of it.' It was all about me-me-me! Now 'me' is on the back burner," he says, then recalls thoughtfully. "The other day, I stopped and helped a man on the side of the road. I wouldn't have done that years ago. I would have thought, 'Glad it's not me!' and moved on."
Michael's relationship with his dad? "It was definitely rocky," he recalls. "This past Christmas was the first time I spent with him in five years and he saw I was really trying."
Since Christmas, Michael has continued to build his relationship with his father, seeing him each weekend and calling him almost every day. Recently, when his father underwent knee surgery, Michael headed home to help! "It made a world of difference to him. My son's mom and I are together again, too," he says happily. "None of this would have happened if I hadn't come to The Foundry.
"I don't know the people who give to this place, but they will be given blessings. God has changed me here. He's opened my eyes to see what a wonderful life I have. My happiness comes from my family."
Michael's story comes from The Foundry. Visit their profile to learn more.