Think Differently Live Differently: Why Did He Go?

Posted on May 15, 2010

The following excerpt from Think Differently Live Differently is a true story that launches us on our Journey to Freedom:

I can still see her face as she answered my question. The stress on her countenance faded into a faraway look as if she were in a trance. It seemed as though she had suddenly left on a vacation without moving from the chair in front of me. The lines around her eyes softened and the look of fear and frustration momentarily melted. Having mentally arrived at her new destination, she was ready to answer me.

I had been working as a juvenile probation officer for a few years. This, like many other meetings, took place in a moment of crisis. The strands of life this single mother had been holding together were unraveling fast and she viewed me as another agent of fear in her life. What would happen to her son? Would she lose him to long term detention or any one of multiple placement options? Like so many other parents, she came to my office swimming in a sea of competing emotions.

She had come to pick up her son who had stolen her car and run away from home. After a frantic period of waiting and searching, he had been located several states away – Florida, if I remember correctly. Out of gas and out of resources, he had left a trail of forged credit card receipts. After many attempts to fill up and drive-off, the boy had finally been picked up, claimed by his mom and returned to our small West Texas town. Now she was sitting in the sterile office, wondering what this probation officer was going to do and trying to figure out her next step. We had established the basic information about his age, family background and the nature of their relationship, but I was still curious – why Florida? Was her son running to family, friends, or even a girlfriend who had moved out of state? So I asked the question: “Ma’am,” I said, “why did he choose Florida? Is there someone there he knew?”

This was the question that had prompted the shift in her body language. Her eyes narrowed and looked as if she were scanning the horizon in my diminutive office. Her imagination departed on the journey, although part of her remained behind to answer me.  “Why Florida?” she repeated, “I wasn’t sure either until I went to pick him up. But the further I drove and the further Texas fell behind me, the more I began to understand.” She paused, eyes still distant, “We don’t know anyone there, and I am not even sure if he knew exactly where he was hoping to get to … but having driven the same way, I know exactly why he went.” She seemed to have reached that faraway destination as she summed up her explanation in a single word, laden with emotional significance to her.  As she uttered the word, it seemed weighty enough to reach beyond her and her son to include all of us.

“Freedom,” she answered. “He went for freedom. The further I traveled, it was as if I was leaving behind every care and every difficulty. The more I drove, the more I considered joining him, because life just seemed easier in front of me than it did behind me.”

Like her son, she had a picture of freedom in her mind. This picture, however inaccurate, would point her heart towards the pursuit of freedom. His picture had been so skewed that his greatest bid for release had actually resulted in the loss of all his freedoms.

Our brief conversation had already revealed that her life had been long and difficult. Many painful experiences had clouded her past and led up to this one. This day was another landmark – one more harsh and frightening experience. Even loving her son had become painful. And now here she was, putting one foot in front of the other with a hollow look in her eyes, and the only positive feelings she had were evoked by imagining a different life from the one she was living.

Yet, in the midst of all that weight, she had latched onto a universal dream. She knew something within her was crying out for something more. Yet that thing, whatever it was, seemed out of reach. No wonder life looked better in front of her than it did behind her. She ached for freedom.

Don’t we all?

Check the store tab to order your copy, or stop by Passages at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.


  • Sharon Hopkins

    Thanks for delivering TDLD last Sunday. My order was actually for 2 books so I wanted to check and see if the second book was going to be shipped.

    Thanks,
    Sharon Hopkins
    972-822-3552

  • Kobus

    I am looking for Bob Hamp’s book “Think differntly Live differently” in audio form please.

  • The audio is available as a download from this website, or as a CD set in this store, or at gatewaypeople.com

  • We you ever able to get the audio book from Gateway?