Breaking Free

Calvin - Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Entered on March 7, 2009
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Listen to This I Believe on RadioPublic

  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Growing up in a small town near the banks of the Mississippi River amid the

stinch of racism and the Jim Crow south, Rosedale was my home for the developmental

stages of my life. I never quite fit into the unspoken way of life in my town, I

always knew that there was so much more the world had to offer.

I joined the military in the winter of 1989 and needless to say, this would be my

blessing in disguise. For most Negro males in the south, you developed

resentment, gave up, vowed never to return to this State or for a small few grew

from the lessons learned there. For me, I became a little of all of them. When I

left the Mississippi Delta for the first time by myself enroute to Erlangen, Germany, I

never felt so infinetly small or alone in my life. I never imagined that the world

inhabited so many white people and just how few negroes were. As a result of a

few encounters of racism, I became militant and more resentful to anyone that

didn’t look like me and I started to withdraw and gravitate more to Islam (after

reading the autobiography of Malcolm X).

I left active duty and returned to Mississippi and worked for the Rosedale Police

Department for a short while followed by a few other police departments in the

area. I finally had enough of small town America and the narrow mindedness of

most of the population, I ventured to Nashville, TN. I joined the Tennessee

National Guard, 269th MP Company and was later deployed to Baghdad, Iraq.

This deployment was to be my test. Facing more blatant racism and other

African-American senior enlisted non-commissioned officers being treated like

step children I started to lose faith in almost everything I knew. While on patrol

one night, the humvee I was in was hit by an IED and by the grace of Jehovah,

my comrades and I only suffered minor superficial wounds. The moment before

the explosion, I was praying for God to reveal Himself to me so that I may know

that He is there and listening to my pleas. In that same moment, I harbored

resentment and hatred, not at God but at my fellow man. It seemed as soon as I

regained my bearings, the explosion went off and immediately I knew that He

heard me and my hatred started to subside. I’m still being treated to this day per

PTSD but I’ll never forget the lessons learned that night.

So, I sincerely believe that God’s words are still relevant today more than ever.

Colossians 3:5-8 ” Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion evil desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you once walked, when yo lived in anger, wrath, malice,

slander and foul talk from your mouth.”

Colossians 3:12-14 “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,

compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forgiving each other,

as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”

Therefore, I believe in all my heart and mind that hating and holding grudges

hurts no one but the one that holds them for only the one who holds a hot rod

gets burned.