I am 52 years old. Of those 52 years, I used street drugs for 11 years. Following my first divorce from 1997 to 2003. And, after my second divorce from 2015 to 2018.

Both periods of drug abuse ended with a conviction for drug possession. The first [two charges], resulted in a community corrections sentence, and the second landed me on probation. I have not been to prison, although many of my friends have.

During those 11 years of drug use, I broke the law many, many times. Until recently, possession of even small amounts of narcotics was a felony. If you do the math on that, I’ve committed thousands of offenses. Furthermore, from 1998 to 2003, I sold drugs, transported drugs from Mexico, and moved them over many a state line. I’ve even sold guns, but that was a long time ago. And I know what’s it’s like to be broke, and then have 20k to 40k the next day. Over and over again. I was a criminal. But, I will add this, I’ve never committed a violent crime. Everything I did was to feed my addiction, but I did not use violence. I’m not glorifying, and I’m not minimizing.

Now, all of this is well documented. I’ve been in outpatient drug therapy for almost two years. I haven’t held anything back. In the eyes of the court, I’ve practically done paying for my crimes.

But, have I paid for my sin? I was not a good husband to my first wife. At the end of that marriage, she said to me, “you will pay ten-fold for everything you have done.” Well, she nailed it. Everything I did to her during my first marriage, I got back times ten during my second marriage. Possibly, more than ten times. The emotional trauma of my second marriage was so incredibly damaging to me that it left me post-traumatic in 2015. Five years later, I’m still working through the damage. That being said, I’ve used my pain to build a new me and a new life. Our pain makes us who we are. I believe it so much, I wrote a novel.

Approximately 16 years ago, I began a process of daily self-inventory. This included complete abstinence of all lies, deceit, betrayal, and thievery. I was completely faithful to my second wife.

During my drug use from 2015-2018 I didn’t lie and steal. Nearly everyone around me did, but I stayed the course.

I don’t lie or steal. I don’t spend time with people that do either. Speaking the truth is one of the essential parts of my life. If a person cannot speak the truth, then they have nothing but an empty shell of a life.

Anyway, here’s my point. I’ve been caught and convicted three times for drugs. Only drugs and nothing else except for drugs. Of the thousands of felonies I’ve committed as a drug addict trying to remain high, I’ve been caught just three times. On top of those three convictions, my life has been a rollercoaster of pain and trauma. If I were to put it all down here right now, you would probably be shocked at what I’ve endured. Of course, we all have our pain. I don’t consider my pain special, but I’ve paid heavily in the karma category if be subscribe to such things.

I believe that everybody pays. So, if I died today, have I paid for my crimes and sins. For every felony conviction, most felons have probably committed hundreds of thousands more criminal acts. Unless, of course, they are a complete dee-dee-dee. Criminal clowns are out there.

If I relapsed, committed a felony, and got shot and killed by the police today, they would probably say something like, “he’s had three convictions, including two felonies, but he was doing good. What a tragedy. Why did they have to kill that poor man?”

But, have I paid for my sins? What about the crimes and sins nobody knows about. If I hadn’t admitted to them, it would appear that I’ve only committed three crimes in my entire life. There are criminals in this world who have committed hundreds of violent acts but have not been caught. Or, only arrested a few times.

One fact remains constant. Everybody pays. The Universe will always find a balance eventually. This is not an option. There is no gray area. We don’t have to believe it, but it will still always be a reality regardless.

Joseph Shanklin

July 7, 2020

14 thoughts on “If I Died Today, Have I Paid For My Sins?

  1. Wow! This is powerful stuff. I don’t like wishing “bad” things for anyone, but your post fueled me with energy. Truth be known, I hope all the people who hurt my shy and reserved son pay their debt, especially the woman who put him over his final edge at 26 years old. (She doesn’t even know she did it!) Sadly, though, Joe, it seems that all the people that bullied and minimized him, are happy and living large. So I just try and do the right thing and keep “my side of the street clean” β€” as difficult as it can be at times! I don’t understand life, but I’m okay with that for today. PS: please reserve a copy of your autographed book for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a nice post Joe. You were very honest and I do believe you “paid” for your sins. You were an open book and took accountability for your past actions. You also have made so many positive changes so you are not the person you were before. You also did serious introspection, which sadly many people fail to do and just go through the emotions regarding paying for crimes or past indiscretions. You totally changed your life and reflected. Life is to be understood backwards, but we must live our lives moving forward. I believe that sincerity and honesty are two of the best attributes a human being can have. I also would love to read your book!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Who knows?! The Universe, God or whatever we named it.
    Good questions. Probably, you’re still getting answers and you will through your lifetime.
    Keep on, Joe. You dig deep and there is no other way to save and preserve your soul. Take care.
    πŸ’œ

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I question the same things many times in my life. I believe, all we can do, is learn our lessons and try to do better. We can’t take-back the past. Just learn to be kinder, lead with concern and listen to the people near.

    Liked by 1 person

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