November 18, 2010
Thursday, 5:30 p.m.
Letter #159: Extending Forgiveness to Fernando
It’s been awhile since I wrote last, so I apologize for the delay which was not weather-related. It was a simple matter of tarmac congestion—too many incoming and outgoing activities, and not enough quiet reflection time.
I finally received an official response back regarding my intent to correspond directly with Fernando Galvan, the young man who punched me. My unit manager, Mr. Alexander, denied my request and stated he was sure that the warden would have done so as well. He’d read my letter giving reasons why I believe a correspondence would be beneficial to Fernando’s rehabilitation and restoration back to the normal population here. He also read my letter to Fernando, but in the end opted to not forward it to him.
The choice whether or not to approve correspondence is entirely Mr. Alexander’s, and though I don’t agree with it, I have to believe that God will be working in His best interests (and mine!) through my authorities. Proverbs speaks of the wise man being one who listens to instruction, who regards correction, who values counsel.
Mr. A has spent quite a bit more time in prison—yes, he works here—than I have, so I told him I would defer to his opinion and not push the issue. He told me that he appreciates what I’m trying to do, that he believes in forgiveness, redemption, and giving someone another chance.
He’d just met with Fernando, and though I’d just signed papers stating we bear no animosity toward each other—which he also signed—and though I’d just signed papers stating I am not pressing assault and battery charges on him (the District Attorney will hand him mandatory additional six months to a year), he still is saying crazy things. He’s still refusing the forgiveness being offered, choosing instead to stay in his current twisted frame of mind. Boy, does he ever remind me of myself!
Every one of us has a stubborn, stuck-on-sin streak; no matter the size or type of sin, we have some sins that we like to keep for ourselves, refusing God’s grace to forgive and restore. He reaches out to us with His Word, and we turn our hearts away.
Dramatically portrayed for me in Fernando’s life is a script from my own movie, except I’m a better actor than he is. Kudos, though: he does all his own stunts.
As some of you have requested to see my letter to Fernando (I’m making that part up: no one asked), I’m rewriting it here, since it provides a look inside me.
I wanted to write you in the hope that you are doing well and aren’t discouraged. We all make mistakes, but what really matters is what you do afterward. I’ve made lots of mistakes in my life, for sure! Some of those mistakes brought me to prison. And now I’ve finally decided to DO SOMETHING about those mistakes. I mean, I can’t change the past—none of us can!—but I can change how I live right now.
I’m not proud of the wrong things I’ve done, brother. Every day, I regret having been a problem in my past, when I should have been helping people instead. I’ve decided that I’m going to make a difference with the rest of my life.
When I get out, I want to speak to community groups, churches, and governments to encourage people to protect the innocent ones. And while I’m in prison, I want to get offenders—like me—the help they need to change, so that they won’t re-offend when they leave prison. Not everyone understands why I want to do this, but that’s okay. I only hope that my life can be used to prevent further suffering instead of causing it! So, I need your support, brother!
By the way, of course I forgive you for the small thing you did to me. I’m not going to press charges, and I’m asking that the institution go easy on you too. I told the California Disciplinary people that I agree to have them release you from Ad-Seg back into the normal SNY population—I have nothing against you! I told them how we talked and are fine with each other, so don’t worry!
I remember you telling me when you first came to our pod how much you’re trying to change so that you’ll be successful when you get out. I know you can change, bro! We all can change from the old guy who did bad things to the new guy God wants us to be!
My family and I are praying for you—for your peace, safety, and blessing. God cares about you, and so do I, bro. Stay positive, and focus on getting out. 🙂
Take care, and God bless you!
Mr. Alexander says we can reconsider writing to him in the future, but that “some people don’t deserve forgiveness.” No, I respectfully disagree. No one deserves forgiveness, but, like God offers it freely to us, we’re to offer it freely to others. Not everyone accepts it, of course, and some of us, though accepting of His forgiveness, don’t live as if we are forgiven. “Examine yourself … ”