Forgiving During This Invisible War

“God always answers in the deep, never in the shallows of our soul.” ~ Anonymous

Working at the prison’s Intake for many years when I was new brought so many different kinds of memories. Some were challenging [or most of them]. Some so tough that I just felt like giving up. Some were even tougher that I knew I survived, had it not for divine providence. Some were helpful for my own growth pertaining to my assessment, my interventions, or my autonomy with my decisions. But there were those memories that evoked hurt. Shame. Pain. Guilt. Doubts. Anger. The hunger for justice.

“Stop flashing your breasts!” I yelled so loud that the deputies nearby came rushing to my side.

There was this young inmate. So beautiful. Appearing so harmless because of the gentle nature. The way the words were spoken from the well-shaped lips. The way gestures were done with long, slim fingers. Imprisoned for the murder committed by those candle-like fingers. Deputies were always careful to search every crevices of that body. As many razor blades were adeptly hidden in those spots where no one would have imagined that it could be hidden. Attempting many suicidal thoughts by slashing the already well-scarred wrists, claiming many medical emergencies when self-mutilation was done, it became a habit. This inmate was a beautiful appearing woman. On the outside. The physical appearances of a woman enveloped in a man’s body. He was close to having surgery done to change his genital organs. But he killed someone.

He learned the system well. If he got bored in his cell, he would do anything to hurt himself so he could be housed in one of the Suicide Watch cells in Intake. Because he knew many male bodies arrive every minutes. And that was his pleasure.

During one of those watches, that was when I caught him alluring the newly-arrested bodies formed in a line. And he got in trouble! We decided to house him in a particular cell where there was a very tiny window and he wouldn’t be able to see nor be seen because it was only the staff who had the control of that window…And he grew silent. He learned a lesson. That his acts were unacceptable. He learned that he was causing embarrassment, not only to himself, but also to staff and to those who were being disgusted by his weird behavior. And he stopped. For a while. Until he was transferred to another state prison.
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9/11 remembrance. It was not over. This memory always must resurface. Because this memory was too painful to Americans. To those who suffered precious loss of lives so dear to them. Too hurtful because it was a deliberate act of murder to those innocent ones. I did post about God’s love that we must learn to forgive. But how do we do it when such acts seem forgiveness is just an impossible thing to do?

Letting an offender off the hook encourages him to repeat the same style of behavior again. And again. Yes, God does command us to love Him first, then love others. No bias. Other. Anyone. When something like this happens, a crack between relationships occur. It widens. Until there’s no closeness even and the separation so great that there seems to be no hope with reconciliation. We pretend sometimes that the hurt will not last. Wounds heal. And that people change. But we miss an opportunity to experience the joy of honest love, forgiveness and reconciliation if we keep on doing so. With God, there is balance in everything. We should not tolerate sins yet be able to forgive and rebuke at the same time only if coupled with His love.

We can openly rebuke at times, if only the offenders can understand that being rebuked is a way of honoring them. Because rebuke makes them think and be accountable for their actions. It is a way of honoring them, not fanning the flame of anger nor fury. It is a way of making them weigh and look into their inner selves to understand clearly what they have done. Other times, we must pray. Jesus did it on the cross:

“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.” - Luke 23:34

Only God knows. Only God can bring the wounded ones toward the path of healing. Only God can bring those responsible ones to repentance. But two things are for sure, we do not close our eyes to sins that are more serious than we want to believe and our Christ-like faith does not mean believing whatever we want to believe. It is believing what His Word says. And obedience as being true followers of Jesus is after all, our duty! Fight? Yes, we must fight! For His truth and for His glory alone! Not for anyone's self-interest.  For we are engaged in this spiritual struggle until the Lord returns! To God be the glory forever and ever!

“But you offer forgiveness, that we might learn to fear you.” ~ Psalm 130:4

“…and forgive us our sins, just as we have forgiven those who have sinned against us.”
- Matthew 6:12

“With my authority, take this message of repentance to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who turn to me.” ~ Luke 24:47

“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” ~ Ephesians 6:12

“Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray at all times and on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all Christians everywhere.” -Ephesians 6:17-18
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