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29 years coaching experience/ 7 years as a varsity boys' basketball coach, now assisting

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Final Thoughts on Prison Trip...for Now



I have been back for a couple of days from Lake Correctional Institute and I have been able to clear my head...some.  When I first come back from any trip in which the lifestyle is grossly different from my own, I really, really struggle assimilating back into my posh lifestyle.  It does not matter if it is from a foreign country or what I experienced last week.

The four days that Sports Reach helped with recreation at L.C.I. were a true blessing to me.  I interacted with many men who were extremely appreciative and thankful for us taking time from our schedules and away from our families to come and spend time with them.  I have never had the thanks and appreciation shown to me that I was shown last week in that prison.  Every single person that I spoke to was kind, supportive, and thoughtful to my being there.

With that all being said, they are criminals who have done things to get them locked up in a state penitentiary.  Many of them deal with drug issues, but there were armed robbers, murderers, rapists, etc within those walls of the prison.  I was able to look up online what some of them had done to get in there and their actions with me did not always seem to connect with what they were convicted of.

As a Christian, I believe we are called to love people, all people.  Even those in prison.  But how do I come to grips with two huge issues?

1.  I have done some things in my past that could have easily landed me in prison.  I believe that every person who has drank alcohol and can legally drive has been behind the wheel of a car at some point when they should not have been.  This very well could have led to an accident that led to me or you going to prison.  Yet, we are judgmental about these people that are inside the prison.  They were caught, their crimes have been seen, judged and a punishment rendered.  But what about us?  We got away with our crime, yet we seem to feel above those inside the prison walls.

2.  They are criminals.  They have done something to be sent to this place.  I would not want them to watch my children, and if they had done something to my family, I know I would not feel as much compassion for them.  Does that make me a hypocrite?  Does it make my actions more about me than for glorifying God?

I do not know the answers to these two big questions, but I know that I have changed.  I have changed in the way that I think about the whole "prison" situation (it is not all Lockdown on MSNBC!) and it has changed how I can forgive these people.

I can forgive them of their crimes perpetrated on others, but the true challenge would be can I forgive them if those same crimes were perpetrated on me?