250 | Love “… always trusts, always hopes ….” (I Cor. 13:7)

November 11, 2012
Sunday, 4:00 p.m.
Letter #250: Love “… always trusts, always hopes ….” (I Cor. 13:7)


Dear Family,

Another milestone letter: #250. Best estimates are that by letter #750 I’ll be a few months from home. If only it was letters that determined my out-date … I’ve sent more than 1,500 in the past 4½ years …

In other milestone events, both Thomas (the guy I wrote about recently who had begun going to church with me) and “Sniper,” my former cellmate of six months, were transferred back to California to parole in January. They both were very kind to me prior to their departure, but both also intentionally violated my trust and friendship with them. <SHOCK! OUTRAGE!> Exactly my sentiments too! I know—what a complete surprise to discover felons behaving badly.

Thomas asked me to help him settle a debt with someone else. He said his mom would pay me back. He also said he’d recently been given bad medical news and needed vitamins, so I let him buy a bottle of mine, and he said he’d pay me back from his account right away.

The problem is, he didn’t let anyone know he was leaving imminently. The “debt” I helped with was for drugs and enabled him to rack up even more debt, since my money made him appear responsible. He left owing hundreds of dollars to several people.

Sniper had arranged to leave several of his belongings with me, once he transferred back to California. Then, just two days before he left, I asked him again about the items, and he said he’d sold them to someone else. We’d been cellmates for six months, so I kinda trusted him to keep his word, and I’d made sure I’d paid him for all the items.

With Sniper, I was at least able to talk with him about him stealing the stuff. For this, God gave me grace, because I wasn’t feeling very forgiving or loving toward him. I asked to meet with him, and he agreed, though he said he didn’t have much time. After working through the lies and excuses, he finally admitted that he had changed our agreement, selling the items he’d already committed to me and I’d paid for. After I brought it up, he even apologized, and of course I forgave him … though several of my friends in the pod wanted to beat him up, and I literally had to talk them out of it.

What we all knew was that Sniper was actually leaving all of his stuff to his special friend, Danny, while telling me he’d sold it. He ended up telling me to give my account information to Danny, that Danny would communicate it to Sniper once he paroled, and he’d pay me back. (Uhh, yeah. Sure.) Instead of holding my breath, I just encouraged Sniper to look back on his time in the Army and be that guy, not succumb to be the guy who did 10 years in prison (on what began as a 2-year term).

I’ve prayed for both of them, that they would someday change. This type of behavior just leads back to prison, hurts those you love, and brings misery. I don’t want that for either of them.

For me, I learned a lot. Though I like to be generous, it wasn’t my intent to give these hard-earned and saved funds away. I need to be more careful for sure, and I also need to read people better. I can’t oversimplify it and say I need to be less trusting, because trust is such a necessary quality in all relationships, no matter how casual. I just need to work on building trust with others rather than giving it before it is earned.

Still, this has greatly disappointed me. Two guys with whom I thought I’d built friendships and benefited their lives turned out to just be using that friendship for selfish gain. It’s tough to see myself so clearly in others.