So beautiful, so life-changing, so much of God, to give us unworthy sinners His wonderful grace.
From the beginning of time, God‘s grace was being prepared for those who prevail and step away.
Yet, God knew this, and still prepared his beautiful grace.
He knew someday we would need this life-changing gift, so small in word, so big indeed.
This amazing grace, because of it, we receive all that God is and through it our hearts are renewed.
That sweet wonderful amazing grace.
By Jon E Flores
Wy I want to participate in The Amends Project?
I want to participate in this program to show society that by them believing in our change, it’s really working.
Being able to write and share my life and how I turned a negative into a positive is such a beautiful thing. I believe that in doing these types of programs it gives the world a picture of the human element that was taken from us for so long. Because of this program we now have our voice back to share how a person can truly find the courage to deal with those internal issues that kept us trapped in a negative lifestyle. Today we want the world to know that by believing in us to change it really works.
Each and every opportunity I get to make amends I do it, I want to give as much as I can, and I hope that by sharing our lives and how we have truly persevered through circumstances that were created to break us, gives our dignity back. We have learned and have grown, we have matured and this program is a place to show who we are today.
This is why I am participating.
Jon E Flores AZ1831
The person I was, the person I am today
In 2011 I was paroled from a California State Prison System at the age of 29. I was a criminal (1) and gang member (2) who had a drug problem (3). These three things combined, created a walking destruction. I had no purpose other than to further my cars and the agenda of the gang. I had no kind of moral compass, let alone any type of values or principles of positive type. My life at this point was about my own self image, and how I would survive in a doggy dog world. So, compassion and mercy, I had none.
I realized now after digging deep within myself, and getting to the root of my issues, that I was living with low self-esteem issues caused by the lack of identity. I had abandonment issues as well as deep resentment towards those who were supposed to love and protect me. These issues festered and produced anger and hate, especially towards any type of authority figures. In reality I was a scared little boy, masking myself as this tough gangster who didn’t care.
On April 24, 2011 a man named Gregory cross paths with this coward ( me, who thought I was a man, and could take what I wished). Gregory lost his life for protecting his property and not allowing a punk like me to take his car. Today, I stand here as a different person who rejects and is deeply ashamed for my actions. Today, I have remorse for the crime I committed. A crime that caused a courageous and innocent man to be murdered. Nothing I can do or say will ever change or make what I did okay. Every day I think of and hold Gregory in my thoughts with his family in my prayers.
For the last four years I have been surrendering, my life and will, over to Jesus Christ daily. I have worked hard to address those deep issues that caused me to be the ugly person I was. I have dealt with my character defects and restored a positive identity that now represents a community of men who strive daily to be the very best version of ourselves. I no longer am a gang member/drug addict/criminal. Today, I am a child of God who is dedicated to helping others, who has compassion, empathy, remorse, and wakes up with integrity. Every day I wake up and say "today I will not use drugs, today I will not use violence, and today I will not participate in any type of criminality. Today, I will be kind and loving to my neighbor and respect those in authority".
I have hope, that my behavior and the example that I set for others, will show that the man I am today is not the person I used to be and that my past will not define my future. I write this to show that change is very possible for anyone. With determination and the ability to believe in yourself we can do anything we put our minds to.
A special thanks to all those who stand by us "Lifers" and work to help us out, also to our support network who believes in us, thank you
Jon E Flores
What is addiction to me?
Living a life that was filled by addiction was a very ugly thing. I joined a gang at age 12 years old and became addicted to criminal and gang activity that led to me becoming a drug addict. Being that I was addicted to this lifestyle for such a long time, I honestly never seen myself as an addict (denial). I used drugs to help deal with everything I felt was good and everything that was wrong in my life. I used drugs do you have a good time, I use drugs to get out of bed, but did I have a problem? No! Of course not. I used any and every type of drug that I could get or come across. I mostly used meth and heroin. Alongside weed, I drink alcohol daily. Did I have a problem? No! I was just having fun. That was the story of my life for 25 years. I was living one big game of a life where I made the rules and everyone else suffered.
Today, at the age of 40, with four years of sobriety I now see the addiction for what it truly was. I lived for myself in my habit, and I never thought twice about who I harmed or who I had to use to get what I wanted. I was a master manipulator, liar, thief, abuser who used violence and intimidation to my advantage. I abandoned three beautiful children and a numerous amount of relationships; all destroyed because of addiction. Today, I’m still paying for that addiction with a life sentence and a nonexistent relationship with my children. I chose drugs and a gang, over family and my own children. Today I’m not that same person I was.
Addiction takes and doesn’t give back. Addiction is a monster that and can very well kill. I am just one of those survivors that has lived to speak about its ugliness. Addiction comes in all forms and affects all people, and it is no respect of anyone.
I value my life today and I think God that addiction didn’t prevail over my life. I paid the price for the life I believed I wanted, now I’m just trying to enjoy what life I have left.
Jon E Flores