How One Choice Makes a Big Difference: Author Interview with David Mike
We make a variety of decisions each day. Some are minor, like what to have for lunch. Others, such as buying a home, take a lot of time and planning. Then there are some decisions that seem small at the time but have lasting consequences. This was the case for David Mike.
On a night away from his military post, a decision he made at a night club forever changed his life. The decision to try ecstasy led him to other drugs, becoming a seller, and eventually going AWOL from his military post. When he was caught, David was sentenced to incarceration at Fort Leavenworth, a military prison.
During his confinement, David struggled with the typical issues of loneliness, boredom, and trying to reconcile with family and friends. But he came to realize a bigger issue he had to face was his relationship with God. He grew up in a Christian home, but spent much of his adult life running away from God. Now, locked away from society, reconciling himself with God became a daily goal.
In his new book, Dishonor: One Soldier’s Journey from Desertion to Redemption, David Mike recounts the choices that led to his incarceration and those that allowed him to find redemption and hope. The book provides an honest and in-depth look at drug use within the military, as well as David’s personal struggles. David’s story chronicles his downfall from soldier to prisoner, but ultimately offers great hope in the restoration of his relationship with God and his family.
I had the opportunity to ask David a few questions about his book. He provided additional insight into the story and how his experiences continue to impact him today.
I know you shared some of your story through your blog, but how did the idea for the book initially come about? What prompted you to want to share this publicly?
I’m a storyteller and have been since I was a child. My father was in the military and so we moved around a lot. Every new place we landed, I found myself talking about where I came from and all the things I did. From time to time, I would mention bits and pieces of my messy past to people in my life. Every single time, the response was, “You need to write a book!” Having never written anything in my life before, I constantly dismissed it. I mentioned in a Facebook group that I had a crazy story to tell about my life and that I wanted to write a book. The advice I was given was to start a blog and develop a following. So, I wrote my entire rough draft through blogging at www.dilemmamike.com/the-fort-leavenworth-story.
One thing that readers will notice early on is how honest you are about your choices and experiences. Why was it important to provide so much detail about the events that led to being imprisoned?
My intent was never to sensationalize my actions, but I did feel like it was important to be honest about how low I fell. Since my story is about redemption through God’s grace and forgiveness, I had to write about the things that took me down a slippery slope. I knew that if I shared it, there were people that need to know that they are not alone. Broken, messed up people like me needed to know that God forgave us 2000 years ago, no matter what.
When you learned of your sentence, what first went through your mind about the idea of being imprisoned for five years?
Hearing five years frustrated me. I thought that the assistance I provided to the Criminal Investigation Division would have lowered the sentence more than it did. However, God knew exactly how much time I needed to serve in order to get my attention. Something I would realize much later in life.
While at Fort Leavenworth, you asked to work in the barber shop, but were assigned to food service. Do you feel like that was a good thing since it allowed you to earn “good time” more quickly, or do you feel you would have been better prepared for returning to civilian life if you had already had credits toward a barbering license?
It’s hard to say. One of the immediate benefits to working in the dining facility was that, cooks were treated with respect. Food was very important to inmates and you wanted to be in good standing with the people who served it to you. As a result, I was in a pretty safe environment. If I made it to the barber shop, I may have been better prepared for what I do now, however my life may have turned out differently. I met my wife at the hair school where I now work. Maybe that wouldn’t have happened and I can’t imagine life without her.
Throughout your journey, there were a number of incidents where you are given a second chance – military officials trying to help you, your father offering to testify on your behalf, the cosmetology school allowing you enroll in spite of having a criminal record, the retail manager willing to take a chance on hiring you. What would you say to those who were willing to give you those second chances?
I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to have a second chance. These people saw something in me and took a risk. It gave me the ability to prove that I had changed. During the writing of Dishonor, I actually called both my army lawyer and Special Agent Thundercloud to thank them. They were both very surprised. Thundercloud and I communicate regularly and have become good friends.
A significant part of your story is realizing you needed a relationship with God. What was the moment like when you stopped running from God? How has that relationship grown over the years as you’ve worked to make a life for yourself and family?
When I heard the message of grace and finally understood what it meant, I was so blown away that I had to research it over and over to see if it really was that simple. Accept God’s forgiveness and you are washed clean forever! The amount of guilt and shame I was carrying around with me was released. Life has not been easy, as most of us can attest to. However, knowing that we are forgiven by God makes it worth it. I still have times where my relationship with God takes a backseat to life and family but we try to keep it a focus in our home. Truthfully, my wife is such a pillar of faith to our children and they have turned out to be three amazing girls because of her influence.
What advice would you give to someone facing similar setbacks who has a goal to move beyond their past – whether to write a book, start a business, go back to college, etc – but who doesn’t know where to start?
First, find someone who you believe does it best and mimic what they have done to get there. Most successful people have shared their steps in one form or another. Or they may be willing to mentor you. When I did not know how to do something, I messaged the people I wanted to learn from and got the answer I needed.
Second, find a community of people who are willing to walk along side of you in your journey – to cheer you on, help you when you fall, keep you accountable, and to inspire you to continue to the finish line. I would not have completed this book without the direct support of family and the communities that I am involved in.
David’s story is not unique in how one decision resulted in a spiral of poor choices. What makes his story unique is how he learned from his mistakes and found redemption with God and his family. Today, David lives in Omaha, Nebraska with his wife and daughters, where he is a cosmetology instructor.
To learn more about David Mike, check out his online story.
Dishonor: One Soldier’s Journey from Desertion to Redemption can be purchased through Amazon
Because I believe in the power of hope and faith illustrated in David’s story, I am giving away a copy of the book, along with an Amazon gift card. To enter, all you have to do is one of the following:
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**FINE PRINT: Each of the above earns one entry, so you can earn up to four chances to win. If you follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, please send me a tweet or post to the author page with a quick comment letting me know you are entering the contest. That way I’ll be sure to note who are new followers. Contest closes at 11:59 Central time on September 12, 2016. (US and Canada entries only please)