I had a situation which occurred while being locked up in the federal detention center in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico which taught me how vengeful I could be. Counselor Garcia and I had a conflict which resulted in my being sent to the, “Hole”, for the second time in the three months I’d been there. Knowing the privileges I lost being there were especially difficult because I was sent there in error, and later acknowledged by prison officials; but, it did nothing to quell the growing anger and my developing a plan to get revenge, to pay her back, causing her deep pain and I mean, physical pain!
I never knew those kinds of feelings were present within me. It bothered me so much, my planning, it would keep me awake at nights. Eventually I was released from the, “Hole” and brought back to the same unit and dreaded seeing the woman’s face again. This would occur for a greater portion of the twenty months I was there until I learned the key to overcoming wanting to get revenge—forgiveness.
Today at Groveland, I met a man whose entry date into the system begins with a, “67”! I cannot imagine being in prison for 43 years and counting. He walks with a limp, head faced toward the ground and takes forever to cover the great distances between the various buildings within this campus. It was said he was here because he avenged being mistreated after warning others involved. He carried out his threats by killing his wife, attorney, district attorney and the trial judge! His limp is the result of being beaten by peace officers at some point. I’ve not had the opportunity to date, to speak with him other than in passing, and he does respond cordially; but here’s a good example of how vengeance causes a backlash. Although those he’s killed no longer feel anything, he feels the pressure of the result of his actions, every day, for the past years in prison, which could be the remainder of his life. And for what? Certainly his act can never bring about the coveted, “peace of mind” we’re all seeking.
The Good Book says very specifically, “Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord.” What it means personally is if I take it upon myself to evoke the punishment for whatever injustice carried out against me then I take the place of God and get in His way of handling what is rightfully His own!
Today, in prisons environments, the worse criminal offense is sexually-related especially rape or crimes committed against children. Surely, while these offenses are heinous, we have no right to take it upon ourselves to exact vengeance upon anyone who is charged/convicted with such an offense especially if it weren’t our loved ones involved. Regardless who they are, it is not our responsibility to treat them or any other offender other than the man and woman they are. If it weren’t for the grace of God, we, too; could have found ourselves on the receiving end of these charges. Since God has granted grace in our behalf, we should let God handle any vengeance to be directed to these persons. When we hurt them, we take upon ourselves the fault of why they are here and God will deal with you harsher than He will with them, since you’ve transferred the retributions to yourself.
Everyone deserves forgiveness, no matter what was committed. Everyone! Surely you’re wanting it for your life, others have the opportunity to have it, too. Learn to leave such matters to God.
(Note: This was written 8/21/2013, four days after Mr. Chambers celebrated his 83 birthday. I did have the opportunity to speak at length with him before he was transferred out of the facility. He seemed the gentlest, kindest man you’d ever want to meet. He gave encouraging words to me as a father would, and I responded as a son would. No matter what he’s done, he’s still God’s child, God’s son. This chapter is in dedication to Mr. Edward Chambers, #67A-0088. I look forward meeting you again, sir, in Glory.)
(Note: I find it necessary to respond in advance to those who will question, “What about his victims? What would you say regarding them? My answer: Certainly, I am saddened by what they experienced as well as their family and friends. No one deserves to die in the manner which they did. However, should they not enter into the Kingdom, it will be the result of their own sin. Had they lived a life approving before God, their premature death will only serve in a positive way.)
It is important to understand, life on this planet is tenuous at best. We can only hope to live long, happy lives while here. If there is anything which breaks the tender cord of life, our hope and goal should be to have lived the time given in such a manner where God will raise us up in the Resurrection so we can spend eternity with Him, never more facing the issues we face today.