Prisoners are Beloved Children of God
Every once in awhile I like to share something about my experience in writing prisoners. I fell into it by accident, if truth be told. One day the abbot brought me a letter from a prisoner about 5 years ago and requested that I write to him. It is been rewarding for me on many levels.
Some of the men I write to, actually need to be in jail. Others got caught doing something very stupid when they were young. One prisoner will never get out for what he did. It is sad. Yet he has turned his life around, and over the past 25 years has helped many men to find Christ Jesus, and has helped them to get ready for when they get out. It is an honor to know him.
Below is a letter I wrote to Matt (not his real name), who is someone with whom I had to work hard making proper boundaries. They always have to be worked on, at least that is true for me. Boundaries are like walls, they have to be kept up.
He has ways of being with people that get him trouble. He is the type of man, who thinks he is helping someone, but in reality, he uses others to do the job for him. I guess he is a con-man. He was in prison a few years ago, and I got pretty strict with him. He can be slippery. However, I also noticed that in spite of that, he also wanted to change. So he wrote to me now that he is back in prison. He is back in for a parole violation.
The letter is dealing with his thinking that I think he is ‘evil’, his words, and ‘no-good’, which is not true. I did not really know how to respond. Every human being is precious before God, so I try to be careful about how I express myself, but at the same time, I want to be truthful as well. So this is an attempt to do that.
Again, I do think that those who can write and can keep good boundaries, may find that it is a good experience to write these men. Many are very lonely, their families have rejected them (for good reason more often than not), yet they are still children of God, and do respond when written to. However, I have also dropped some who were con-men, they are not too hard to spot. I write them back letting them what I can’t do for them.
So, pray with me for Matt and all prisoners, and leave justice to God, and let us show God’s infinite mercy to them.
I am happy that your court case seems to be going well. I hope that you will be able to get out in December of this year. You seemed to have done your homework, and you did a good job.
I don’t judge you Warren, which is not my place. Only God truly sees the soul, and loves each human being infinitely. How I experience you, and what you are trying to do can at times be at odds. However, listen to how others say you come across for there can be truth in it. Learn from everyone, especially those who challenge you.
Each day is a new beginning with the Lord. If we look to him, and not to ourselves, he will heal and expand our hearts. So I do not know you well enough to say anything about you one way or another. However, I do have goodwill towards you.
When you get out I hope that you can get some employment. If you can’t, I hope that you can find some way to help others in ways that will improve their lives, as well as help them to take more pride in their persons. We are all beloved by God, and in each we meet, there is Christ Jesus in their hearts. In some people’s hearts, Jesus may seem asleep, it is up to us to help them to understand how much they are loved by God.
But you first have to love yourself, before you can truly love others. Jesus told us, to Love God with our whole being, and the second, which is like it, to love our neighbor as “ourselves”. Which can be difficult.
To live according to the ‘Golden Rule’ takes a deep level of being mindful of what one actually wants. To follow Christ means to seek to grow in love every day, to do the loving thing, to die to old ways of being that only lead to pain for oneself, and others, and to isolation.
When you get out, if you want to write, I will be open to that. You are intelligent and have a lot of potential. The Lord has given you gifts, develop them, which is what they are for. God will help others through your gifts but reach you personally in your weakness. Do not be afraid of self-knowledge. If you love yourself in the way the Lord means, you will be open to the truth about yourself that you may not want to hear. Listen to others who speak the truth to you out of true love. I am sure you have people like that in your life. Seek them out. Watch out with whom you hang out with.
When you get out of prison, it will be like you are born again, so start from there, develop healthy habits, and respect yourself enough to take care of yourself without taking advantage of others.
I do pray for you every day and have great hope that you will continue to grow and move forward. If not, you will end up back in jail, where the Lord in his love and mercy, will continue to seek you, teach you, and heal you. There is always hope.
I do not know what kind of a man you really are. However, you are made in the image of God, called to love others, so be open to the graces that the Lord wants to pour out into your heart. (End of letter)
Matt is in his fifties now, and he is starting to understand that he is going nowhere fast, with the choices that he makes. Not sure he will be able to make it, yet, hope is always present. I also think that his heart is ready for change, as well as for a relationship with Jesus.--BrMD