Too Much Information

I have a good friend who is going to prison. It is a new experience for me, one that I am not happy about and most definitely not comfortable with. He made some major mistakes and now he is suffering the consequences. In fact, many people are suffering the consequences of his actions. But that's not the only thing that I am uncomfortable with. What bothers me is my natural inclination to assume the worst about him and act on it accordingly. It is as if part of me wants to believe the worst about him. Now, don't misunderstand me, I am not pretending to know what kind of a person he actually is. He deceived many people and committed grevious acts that have damaged all of his relationships and hurt many, many people. I am included in that group of people. I am hurt and part of me really wants to be indignant and judgemental about my friend and what he has done. I don't know him because in my eyes he is not the same person I thought I knew. The part that bothers me is that I naturally want to exact my hurt on him. Why is it so easy to withdraw my love? Didn't Jesus say to love our enemies?

I have wrestled with this for the past few months and at times it has seemed hard to be friends with someone in jail on felony charges. But in the end it has never really occured to me to stop being his friend. My wife and I talk about it often and we both see it as a beautiful opportunity to live out our faith. Didn't Jesus say to love our neighbor? If I judge my friend, am I loving him? Or is forgiveness the way to love him? I see him now and again on weekends when he can have visitors. I don't think that there is anyone who judges him more than he himself does. He sits alone in a cell for hours at a time. What do you think goes through his head? What can I say that he has not already played out in his head a million times? How can I possibly help by being angry with him?

You might read this and think that I am excusing his behavior and letting him off the hook. It is not true. It is just that justice is not my job. There is a system of justice in this country and it is doing its job. It doesn't need me. But he needs me. He needs my love and support because right now it is easy for him to feel that he is all alone. Alone is a great place to become bitter and depressed. How can he ever be restored in that head space? He has hurt a lot of people and the victims in this case are numerous. My heart goes out to them; I can not imagine how they feel and the hurt that has been inflicted on them. But everyone needs healing and righteous anger is actually rarely righteous. It is usually anger that seems justified by human circumstance. Healing will never come from it. Revenge will never take back what was taken. It will only make the perpetrator into a victim and vice versa.

I love my friend and weep that he will not be free for about 17 years. I am saddened by the loss of his marriage and the trauma that has been and will be inflicted on his relationships with his wife and sons. I can not begin to explain my own feelings about my relationship with him. But I love him, and that will never change. It can't because that love doesn't come from just me. It comes from a loving God that loved me first.

Comments

  1. Great thoughts Aaron. I too came away from the court room with a million thoughts running through my brain. Although I did not talk specifically about the case, my post was a result of those thoughts. Like you said so well, although many people were hurt in this scenario it does not change our vocation as Christ-followers to love.

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  2. I have family that have been behind bars. I have known people out on parole for various things, including violent felonies. I've known guys who got killed doing things they ought not to. My heart goes out to you.

    What Christ said in Matt 25:31-46 is very relavant here. I was in prison and you visited me.

    But I also see at the top of this blog a precious little one. Your duty to protect and preserve that life ( spiritual and physical ) is also by divine command. One who causes one of these to sin it would be better for a stone to be around his neck..... And we are commanded to contend for the widow and the orphan at the gate.

    Keep both in mind.

    I shall pray for you, your family and all involved.

    Lucias

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