Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Work Has Just Begun

As I sat there in the dark that night, debating whether or not to go back the next day, a few things were revealed in my heart. Somehow, I thought that once I became a Christian, my heart would be free from the things of the past. I don't know where I got that notion. Maybe it was the "health and wealth" gospel: Come to Jesus and life will be grand! But as I sat there arguing with God about returning to prison the next day, I realized that my heart was so full of anger and hatred that I could barely see straight. Oh, how painful that conversation was, how enlightening and revealing that conversation was. And how far reaching my anger had become.

You see, I had been hurt, violated in the highest form. And the ramifications of it all nearly ruined my life entirely. And I had heard about forgiving those who persecute you, blah blah blah. But in the deep, dark recesses of my heart, I harbored such bitterness and hatred for the men who had so horribly violated me that forgiveness was not an option.

I wanted an apology. Nay, I wanted them to beg for forgiveness of me. I wanted to see those scumbags hit their knees before me and beg to be released from this evil that they had done. Somehow, in all of this, I thought I deserved that. To be able to have that sort of control over them, after the control that they had over my life for so long, seemed like a reasonable craving. I wanted them to know and experience the destruction they caused and the depth of the evil they did. My heart was black with anger.

And the pathetic truth of it all was that they probably never gave another thought to me again after that night. It rotted me from the inside out, and they went on gleefully with their lives. The crime took place in Ecuador, South America, so the odds of me ever running into these people again, ever in my life, were absolutely slim to none, at best. It was a lost cause of hatred leading to my own destruction. And I stewed in it.

And yet God remained: "Go back. A work has just begun."

And so the night passed, and my puffy, tear-stained eyes opened to welcome a new day. I prayed throughout the morning, questioning myself and questioning God. And in the end, I loaded up in the van with the rest of my team, and headed back to prison. As large group time dispersed and folks were congregating into their small groups, I found myself surrounded by the same group of men who had barraged me with questions the day before. I braced myself for the worst, just hoping to not cry and not vomit. I had high hopes indeed.

The men were sitting in a half circle in front of me, with my chair in the center facing them. The man sitting dead center, directly in front of me scared the hell out of me. He was of average height, his muscular arms showing through the dirty white t-shirt he wore. His distinguishing features were his tattoos. He had a small guillotine tattooed in the middle of his forehead and large capital letters RIP tattooed across the front of his neck. His very presence terrified me, leaving me uncomfortable of where to even land my eyes. It was this man who spoke first.

"I am serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of my girlfriend."

Wow. Seriously? That's what we're going to start with? Seriously...

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