August 18, 2010
Wednesday, 8:00 p.m.
Letter #146: Confronting Myself
Greetings! Someone’s been praying for me! It’s been pretty obvious over here. Thank you for lifting me up and standing with me in prayer. God is at work in the hearts of so many guys here. I’m excited to give you some updates …
Over the past few weeks, my relationship with my cellie grew increasingly strained. It baffled me, because it didn’t seem to make any difference what I did: he’d get angry over trivial matters. Now, I hear you saying, “Well, to you they were trivial matters, Christopher, but obviously not to Louis!” as you roll your eyes.
My response? Well, for one thing, it’s impressive that you remembered my cellie’s name, though you misspelled it. It’s “Luis,” not “Louis.” He’s Hispanic, people. For another thing, I used to get spanked for rolling my eyes, though it was nice of you to remember not to call me “Chris.” Yucky.
Lastly, I tell you as honestly as Round Table is the Last Honest Pizza that the stuff that set him off really was trivial! A shirt that fell from my bunk … the time he called to me in the dayroom, and I didn’t hear him … forgetting to close up compactly a bag of my belongings, etc.
Each episode resulted in a bout of fury, with a new toxic level being reached every couple of days. Since I wasn’t intentionally doing anything to bother him, I didn’t know what to do to “change.” I’d apologize for things I’d supposedly done, then explain to him that, “Trust me, I’m not purposely driving you nuts.”
The trouble always showed itself in front of other people, when he would “air our dirty laundry” and let everyone in on our problems.
My final straw, however, was when he threatened violence on Daniel, one of the guys he knows I’ve been reaching out to and witnessing to. I decided that, since Luis seemed intent on destroying and burying any Christian testimony I had, it was best for me to move. I asked around and planned to move in with another Christian brother when his cellie left for parole (which he eventually has). Except God had other ideas for me! He began to change my heart as I recalled the truth of Scripture to “Bless those who curse you, and pray for those who hurt you” (Luke 6:28 NLT).
I began to think of ways I could be a blessing to Luis, and then I put them into practice. I volunteered to wash the cell floor three days a week—a task I’m not at all fond of—even though Luis had been maintaining the floor (common prison practice for the person on the lower bunk). He was pleasantly surprised, but grateful.
I’ve cleaned up for him, made a meal to share, and given him my food tray when we had a meal he likes. Slowly, I’ve seen Luis’ heart change, too, and he’s no longer hostile toward me. I don’t know exactly what was bothering him, but whatever it was, it’s no longer a problem, and we enjoy good fellowship without drama anymore. Praise God!
I’ve continued to facilitate the Self-Confrontation class on Tuesday nights, and the class continues to grow with new members. Besides the new faces, guys who weren’t as committed at the beginning have been increasing their involvement in the past few weeks. Instead of just “attending,” they are now doing the homework assignments and memorizing the weekly Scripture passage as well. I’m really encouraged by the growth I’ve seen in everyone.
This last week’s Scripture, from Romans 6:12–13 seemed a bit more challenging to me than some of the others I’ve memorized during this class. I wondered if it would help me to put it to music. After all, a donut-store jingle or outlet mall jingle or Disneyland jingle I wrote are still fresh in my mind a decade later.
Well, a tune quickly came to mind, and I had the passage learned—word perfect—in about 25 minutes! Not only that, but I can still remember it perfectly almost a week after I first learned it. The cool thing is, I find myself singing its catchy tune throughout the day, making it simple to keep my mind meditating on Scripture. I’ll definitely be putting music to my memory verses in the future, following the pattern of the children of Israel, as they sang much of their Holy Scriptures to God.
My opportunities to witness to Joey (my heavily-tattooed fellow line-server) have increased recently as he’s opened up to me. Please continue to pray for his salvation!
Thank you for your love, prayers, and support. I love you all!