M “ike Palombi is a local resident with a story to tell. At Point Pleasant Boro’s National Night Out Against Crime this past summer, he was handing out copies of his book “How’s it Feel Tough Guy?: From Prisoner of Pride to Prisoner of Hope”. Fortunately, a copy of this autobiography landed in my hands.
Palombi grew up hanging out with the wrong crowd. A well-built former athlete, he became actively involved in a criminal enterprise run by his girlfriend’s father. In him, he found loyalty, companionship and a sense of importance that he never received from his own father. Acting as the “muscle” to get high interest debts paid, he enjoyed the lifestyle he was living; good pay and free drugs. His luck ran out when he was set up by a snitch and arrested, and consequently handed a seven year prison sentence.
In prison, Mike was separated from everything that had given meaning to his life. Pride had already delivered some crushing blows in his life, and was about to put the nail in the coffin as he prepared to murder an inmate. Suddenly, God crashed into his life and he heard the question: “How’s it feel, tough guy?”, but nobody was speaking the words. This was the turning point he needed in his life. He put down the would-be murder weapon and soon picked up The Bible, realizing that what he experienced was divine intervention at it’s finest.
The Bible offered Mike an invitation to change his life, and he began to “...believe that his life had a purpose that was bigger than drugs, bigger than committing crime, bigger than being a tough guy”. Sometimes major changes in our lives allow us to view things differently. He became hopeful, and began looking for ways to improve his life and his future. He grew his faith while he was incarcerated, and after three years when he was paroled, he felt as if he’d been given a second chance. He soon learned this was easier said than done. Mike doesn’t end his story by telling us that his new life was perfect and that he lived happily ever after because he came to know God in prison. Rather, he writes about the difficulties in keeping God the number one priority outside of prison. He began to struggle financially and had difficulty finding happiness. He fell into despair after being denied his passion of teaching at-risk youth. Luckily, God crashed into his life again, but this time, I’ll let you read about what happened. Currently, Palombi’s life has come full circle.
Instead of being enslaved by his pride, he now spreads the message of hope. He leads a program called “Celebrate Recovery” in Point Pleasant, assisting our neighbors to overcome any and all of life’s controlling substances and circumstances.
In the past, I was never really a fan of autobiographies. I was too busy trying to be successful in my own life, and had no patience to read about the success of others. I have come to the realization however, that we can learn something from everyone, and apply their successes and failures to our own lives. Mr. Palombi’s story offers the perfect opportunity for us to learn some valuable lessons. He demonstrates the consequences of honor versus betrayal. He tells us the difference between making a mistake or two and leading a poorly chosen way of life. He describes the failures of our current prison system and gives us a major lesson about pride. Pride can block our ability to feel, and allows us to become “takers”; people who feel their lives are more important than those around them. Blocking pride and developing our ability to feel allows us to surrender to the importance of every human life. Finally, Palombi shows that our most difficult times can be “uniquely tied” to our greatest joys in life, and that even at the lowest points in our life, God can overcome the things that are out of our control.
I loved this book. It was well written and a simple read, completely from the heart. Anyone who reads this memoir will be inspired to become a better person. It is a must-read for parents, offering valuable insight on the importance of love, compassion, justice and guidance asour children choose their friends. Most importantly, we need to realize that our examples inside the home are directly related to our children’s behavior outside the home.
After reading this book, I will strive to mirror one of his most important points: “Today, I measure manhood and personal success in terms of how my life positively impacts the lives of those around me”. Thank you, Mr. Palombi, for your eye-opening story.
To purchase “How’s it Feel Tough Guy?” and to learn more about Mike Palombi and his Celebrate Recovery program at Life Chapel in Pt. Pleasant, visit www.mikepalombi.com.
“How’s it Feel Tough Guy?: From Prisoner of Pride to Prisoner of Hope”, 2013, Prisoner of Hope Publishing, LLC.