In one of my earliest writings I spoke about my having been placed in a cell with the drug king of my unit. (See Love Thy Enemy and Love Thy Enemy – Concludes) He was also a hater; hating people with my crime. I told of how, after a month of his verbal abuse, I was moved into a different cell. And this move coincided with my realization that by returning love to his cruelty I’d be living Jesus’ command to love one another.
What I didn’t write about was the third cellmate in that first cell. He would taunt me verbally and daily ask me when I was moving out. It was his verbal abuse though that was most distressing for me. Finally, he moved into the RDAP (Residential Drug Abuse Program) unit and so I was left alone, and I sighed a breath of relief.
Here, two years later, that third cellmate has been returned to general population due to violating RDAP program guidelines and he was placed into my cell.
I had no idea what to expect of him. I wondered, and still wonder, if it’s possible he has changed in the two years he was in RDAP.
I also wondered what emotions I might have seeing, and living with, him daily. I set about examining my feelings around this new arrangement.
The first emotion I had to deal with was fear. I don’t think he’d ever instigate a physical altercation, but he might become verbally abusive. Yet in the two weeks he’s been with me he hasn’t uttered a single insult – at least not within my hearing.
The next was to look at how I feel about him as a human being. God said to love thy neighbor as you love yourself. I needed to then change my feelings about him as a destructive force in my life and turn it into a positive feeling that he was here.
And that lead into an examination of whether or not I had, or could, forgive him for the way he treated me two years ago. In my examination of my forgiveness, I had to admit that I’d forgiven him a long time ago.
I find that forgiveness is more often for the person doing the forgiving than it is for those that have wronged us. I find I don’t carry any amount of the pain I suffered through him. Consequently, I had to admit to myself that I could accept him as a person and give the new living arrangement a chance.
Here we are two weeks later, and he’s been very respectful toward me. It’s not that we have conversations, we don’t, but that we can live together in peace.
Has he changed? I really don’t know but whenever we interact I do my best to give love.
I think for me that forgiving him first has allowed me to accept him. It has also allowed me to move on from what was a horrible beginning to my incarceration.
If you’re harboring ill will for someone who hurt you in some way, I would say that you need to forgive that person and their treatment of you. Forgiveness isn’t always for the tormentor but is instead for the one aggrieved.
Search your soul for the wrongs put upon you and start forgiving. It doesn’t mean you forget or condone the other person’s treatment of you; instead it means you’re releasing negativity and moving forward which in the end is loving yourself first and then returning love to the aggressor. God will love you for that as you are living His second greatest command.
Forgiveness – do it!