DECLARATION TO THE WORLD!
My name is Stephen Jason Bigelow and I go by Jason. I am 27 years old and .... In spite of all my blessings, I robbed a bank! As unbelievable as this was to my parents, family, and friends, it is the undeniable truth! I take full responsibility for this horrific crime! I made some really poor choices that put me in jail.
At just 24 years of age, I received a full metal on metal hip replacement that never healed. From that point on, my life was never the same. I became desperate because I could not provide for my wife and child. I was not only on Doctor prescribed narcotic pain medication, but I had also started using street narcotics to deal with the ever escalating pain. The physical pain and also the emotional and psychological pain of knowing that I was failing the very people I loved the most and felt so responsible for. I felt like damaged goods. Dr.'s were telling me that the hip looked good and that they didn't know what my problem was, always implying that it must be my fault. Thinking I had no where to turn, I gave up.
My life spiralled out of control, but being totally broken and losing everything was one of the best things that could have happened to me. It saved my life. Now my body is rightfully imprisoned. Yet, but for this nightmare, my spirit may have never found such freedom.
Finally recognizing that my life was completely destroyed, I cried out for relief from the debilitating guilt and pain that I had caused myself and others. Only by giving up did I finally experience peace. Words will never explain, but I found that God had always been there with me. He had witnessed my rebellion and suffering and yet had never given up on me. It was I who had given up on myself and Him.
My story may be unbelievable to many but I cannot deny it. I have experienced the miracle of God's love and forgiveness, not when life was great, but directly in the midst of hell on earth. Amidst chaos, I found a peace and joy that defy the limits of intellectual understanding! I have fully accepted the prison sentence that will separate me physically from those I love the most. I do not judge others because of their judgement against me or for their differing beliefs. Its become my daily practice to love others according to Christ's example: "Love thy neighbor as thyself". (Leviticus 19:18) and, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned, forgive, and ye shall be forgiven." (Luke 23:34)
To keep my personal confession a closely guarded secret would not complete the cycle of love and redemption. For what is “The Power of Repentance”, if we dare not share it with the world. Do we not all harbor within each of us the most destructive of thoughts and/or actions inherent in all mankind? But, are we not also endowed by our Creator with a far greater potential for the unconditional love and forgiveness of Christ who overcomes our inherent “human frailty”? I freely confess my sin, because I know it has already been forgiven and so I have nothing to fear. My confession and forgiveness has led to freedom and I am compelled to share it with others.
Faith lights my path of repentance with hope to overcome challenges, yet unseen, because God’s grace has upheld me through very real nightmares from which I could not have survived on my own. “God does not promise to save us from the consequences of our own actions. His promise is to endure along with us to the end and raise us from our self-induced torment, if we but surrender.” I have come to believe with all my heart that we are not alone on this journey through life, nor on our infinite journey through eternity.
I look forward to your thoughtful comments. Regardless of your response, I welcome your insights on how we may create meaning and happiness for ourselves, our loved ones and our "neighbor", by living HIS example.
http://www.hiprecallrecovery.com/ Jason's newest website to educate others.
JASON'S SENTENCING ON FEBRUARY 10, 2010
Jason went before the Judge and declared he was totally responsible for his criminal act.
He spent fifteen minutes addressing the court. He asked for no leniency for himself but did ask for leniency for his wife, the mother of their two children, Bearik (age 3) and Grace (age 6 months). His words were truly inspired as he laid out the reasons for his downfall. His speech is transcribed below.
The Judge deviated downward from the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and sentenced Jason to 41 months with the possibility of work release. The Judge gave Jason's wife a lesser sentence of 33 months and Jason was overjoyed with the fact that his wife will be out soon to be with their children.
Everyone who came to support Jason and his wife were overjoyed by the Courts decision.
Jason's words to the court at sentencing: February 10, 2010
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to speak.
I want to start by thanking my friends and family for their unwavering love and commitment and for coming out to support my wife and I on this day. Thank you so much. I love you all and am so fortunate to have such a wonderful group of people behind me.
Growing up, I never imagined being in a situation like this and it still is sometimes hard for me to believe that, who I am now, is the same person who committed such a heinous crime a year and a half ago, yet I know it is the truth. I was addicted to opiates, I robbed a bank, and I hurt so many people.
My heart especially goes out to Nicole and the other victims present that day in the bank. I am so, so sorry for the fear and pain I brought to their lives and I only wish there was some way I could take it all back…… but I know that I can’t.
I may have entered the Bank knowing that I did not have the means or the intention to hurt anyone, but my victims certainly did not have any assurance. Of course they were in fear for their very lives.........., and that is inexcusable.
I have spent many hours contemplating the grim reality of my past decisions, the pain I have caused others and the repercussions, I know I deserve. I know that I have to go to prison for my mistakes......... and making amends to the many victims of my drug addiction is my number one priority. Sometimes I have struggled with how to go about this, while incarcerated......, and then I realize that the best thing I can do... is to use each day as an opportunity for self-improvement… and to be a positive force in an environment full of fear, violence and despair.
Despite the negative aspects, I have found that jail provides wonderful conditions for growth. Since coming to jail in July of 2008, I have been drug free! .... This has been one of the greatest blessings in the midst of such tragedy. With sobriety, came a Christ-lead awakening, where I was provided the courage to take a long look into the darkness of my previous life.
Without the blinding haze of opiates, the guilt from my past hit me full force..... and I could not escape responsibility for each destructive act impelled by my addiction. In the World I had rationalized that my growing dependency was strictly to deal with the physical pain but Christ showed me that there was actually something else involved that was just as detrimental.
I discovered that ‘guilt driven depression’ was also driving my addiction. Guilt from my family splitting up when I was fifteen without any warning….. Guilt for leaving my sister…. Guilt for not responsibly handling my hip and back pain….. Guilt for hiding my growing addiction… Guilt for not being the husband and father God called me to be…And guilt for not discouraging my wife from finally beginning to take pills along with me.
These were just a few of the shameful feelings that drugs allowed me to hide from... but I could never totally escape these feelings because drugs were also the cause of most of them. I was lost in a vicious cycle that incarceration finally broke.
It was through this sobering process of facing my pain and owning up to the negative aspects of my life that I was able to accept forgiveness for my sins as well as extend forgiveness to others. Upon doing this, all my desire to escape reality disappeared. I was still in jail but I was happy because I was me again. I was finally free from the control exuded over me by the drugs… and the accompanying guilt that had been poisoning my life.
Within this newfound freedom, miraculous things began to happen. I learned to naturally bear my physical pain and my victim mentality disappeared. My wife went through a similar spiritual experience… completely independent from me… and God showed us that this jail time was the best thing that could have happened for the preservation of our family.
Miraculously, we both received bond after the federal authorities indicted us.
I was accepted into Teen Challenge when they weren’t even taking new applications and my wife was accepted to another program. I grew in spiritual strength in this intensive drug rehab and Bible College… and could not help but sharing my testimony with thousands of people statewide.
Then four months into the program, I had a court date at which time I would admit my guilt and most surely be detained. I still had two more months to go to complete the Teen Challenge Program and my attorney had failed to get a continuance to allow me the time to do so.
Miraculously, it snowed the night before I was to appear and the hearing was postponed long enough for me to finish graduation from Teen Challenge. After graduation, I received invitations to speak at multiple churches and youth groups until my continued court date arrived.
At my continued court date I was detained, but God gave me the inspiration to write. At a youth group where I had previously spoken, a man was present who owned a printing company and he offered to print my writings, free of charge, in a monthly newsletter, that is being distributed to many readers, nationwide.
These are just a few of the ways, God is working in my life and it is now my goal to share this message with others. By honestly bearing my mistakes for all to see, I want to be an example of the power of God’s forgiveness… a testament to the fact that anyone’s life can be redeemed. No matter how hopeless one may feel, forgiveness and joy are available once full responsibility is accepted and one expresses the desire to change.
As I know, it is the hopeless that are prone to destructive decisions in life. There are so many broken families with hurting teens who are faced with life altering choices everyday involving sex, drugs and crime. The ones who choose badly are often blinded by the same nihilistic pessimism I experienced, which says..., You can never be happy.... and you don’t deserve any better"!
These teens are my target audience. I hope to use my experience in a way that relates to their own, showing teens the negative cumulative effect of seemingly innocent shortcuts as compared to the beautiful plan God has in store for them, free from past hurt… both inflicted and received… restoring their potential to live productive lives rooted in forgiveness and unconditional love.
In closing, your Honor, I beg the court to consider leniency for my wife. I know that she made bad decisions as well, but it was my job as the man of the family to lead her…… and at this I utterly failed….. So I ask for the blame to be placed on me. I believe that Anna has already been adequately punished for her part in the crime… and has learned her lesson from the harsh consequences of losing our son Bearik and losing her role as Mother to our beautiful newborn, Grace. The damage to our children has been minimal up until now…. and there is still time to reunite them with their real mother before the bond between them… is irreparably weakened.
Your Honor, I beg the court to consider leniency for my wife because she played a smaller part in the crime and also for the sake of our children. My mom has already said Anna could live with her and Mr. Goss. This arrangement would greatly relieve the pressure on my mom and stepfather as well as be invaluable for our children. Bearik calls out for his mamma everyday….. and Grace naturally believes my mom is her mom…. but maybe…. if we reunite her to her real mother at an early enough age, Grace will be freed from the future confusion and my mom will be freed from the role of a fifty-one year old mother of a newborn…. before the role becomes permanently ingrained in Grace’s mind.
Once again, your Honor, thanks so much for your time and consideration. No matter the outcome today, I will continue towards my goals with optimism and gratitude, looking forward to the day I am reunited with my family.