When I was in the federal system I got involved in typing, then later writing and typing motions for other inmates. My fee was two dollars per page. My ex-wife was able to send money, and an ample amount to sustain me for provisions, snacks as well as the cost of using the phone. In actuality, I could have done this work without charging but it became an obsession. There were weeks when I would have commissary from many inmates totaling over a hundred dollars! I literally kept two lockers filled with goodies, which accounted my gaining over 60 pounds in the 26 months I was there. When my business was interrupted by a stint in the box, I fought to return to the same unit so I could get my fees owed and generate additional funds. I literally became like a collection agency and everyone knows how offensive they can be, and I did not like how I appeared in my own eyes.
Today, my gift of typing and writing on this new bid has become known and I have had to say, “no” to offers to do the same because I do not want to find myself in the same situation. Instead, while at the county jail, I noticed those who did not have and looked to provide deodorant and other items to make their stay more comfortable. Now, this provided a feeling which is greater than all the packages procured while in the federal.
Several weeks ago I purchased a box of chicken and purposed to give a piece to my neighbor who does not get anything, who saves his bread from the standard meals for a snack later. I wanted him to be able to sink his teeth into something substantial and enjoy, so I put a breast on his bed. Later, while microwaving my snack, I saw him eating the breast, sharing with another inmate! Out of six pieces, I gave him one, and he’d share the one with someone else! The inmate he shared with later asked if he could buy a piece, but I refused him saying I only had one left. I had two.
Later in the week, this same inmate asked me if I had any peanut butter and jelly and I said, “No”. By doing so, I had to settle for buttered toast because I did not want him to see me preparing sandwiches with the two containers of peanut butter and jelly! The restriction I put on him I put upon myself, instead of sharing and allowing God to handle any future provisions. The main reason I did not offer this inmate anything, despite my guilty conscience saying otherwise was due to the fact he wore a wedding band and I reasoned he should be able to purchase his own, not thinking how many marriages are over upon our entry here but we still wear the wedding rings as a last vestige of hope for a probable failed relationship!
Commissary is a time we look forward to and we should consider those around us who may not be as fortunate. Perhaps a good practice to put into place would be to tithe whatever received and then ask God to give us the direction to whom we may help and then watch the fulfillment you will receive as compared to having a full locker which will eventually be emptied if God withheld His blessing.
Consider the hard lesson I had to learn: when you deny others what you are more than able to give, you limit yourself in the same way. No wonder the text which says what you bound on earth you bind in heaven and what you release on earth you release in heaven. To offer freedom of hunger to your brother who sleeps beside you will free the hunger you have by your Father who is more than willing to give you more than what you could ever expect to have.
The root word of “commissary” is, “commission”. It’s the giving which counts, not the hoarding. Remember this!