Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Process (Part 2)

     Jail is a horrible place to live, but after awhile, you get used to it. As the days passed, I became accustomed to the noise and lack of privacy. Everyday passed almost unchanged from one to the next. All the inmates usually end up doing nearly the exact same thing each day because of lack of opportunities to do anything different. After time it becomes a necessity leading to an effect known as "instutionalization." A person becomes dependent on the daily routine and any disruption to it can cause distress. This is not as strange as it may seem at first, because a change in the routine is usually from some form of violence taking place. Excitement is a bad thing in jails and prisons nine times out of tem. Inmates who have spent long stretches of time in prison loosen their ties to the outside world and can become unable to cope with life outside of prison or change within the prison. Once released, this crutch of the routine the prisoner has relied on for years is no longer there, and it is no surprise when they quickly return to prison again.

     Because of the media attention, the other inmates knew who I was. Sometimes I would hear people pass by my cell and say, "That's him." From time to time, I'd get hate mail or a letter from some unkown person telling me they were praying for me. A preacher from the town where the shooting happened came to see me after seeing the coverage on the news. I didn't care much for religion, but it gave me a chance to get out of my cell. I agreed to see him just to pass the time. The preacher, Jonnie Hernandez, turned out to be a pretty nice man and not at all what I imagined a preacher to be like. He didn't preach a sermon to me or tell me how much of a rotten sinner I was. There was no Bible thumping or guilt trips. He just told me he understood I was a long way from home and I could probably use a friend. He was right.

     He continued to come each week for nearly the entire time I was in Louisiana. During our visits, he would tell me of his life and carefully weave in little bits about Jesus Christ and how his life had changed since he was saved. I really didn't know what he meant by "saved" but it sounded interesting. He explained that Jesus had died for me so I could be forgiven for my sins. I said a sinner's prayer with him that day but my heart wasn't in it. I did it just to please him. I couldn't believe. Deep inside, I knew I was beyond redemption and love. I had crossed too many lines and gone too far, I believed, even for even God to fix.

     When I was back in my cell, I really started to reflect on the words the preacher had said. He had told me that despite my past, God loved me and sent His son Jesus to pay the penalty for my sins. While I didn't completely understand what he was talking about, I knew one thing. It sounded too good to be true, but I wanted to believe it anyway. I hated the way my life had turned out, and everyday was abject misery. Even
before prison, each day was something to be endured. I had never accomplished anything in my life. I had quit school, never had a job, and never even had a driver's license. I was the ultimate failure and it hurt. It wasn't a physical pain but something inside me hurt none the less. I was missing something in my life and never felt complete. I had thought I had found the thing missing when I had met Sarah, but as soon as she was gone it had come back. Reflecting back, I saw I was always attaching myself to others in order to feel complete. I probably would have given my life to this Jesus right then and there, but one thing was holding me back-the murder in Mississippi.

     The word confession and repentance kept coming up in my visits with Johnny. I didn't think I could honestly confess and repent for my sins to God, including the murder, while trying
to hide it from the authorities. I wasn't ready to admit to something like that then and couldn't imagine a situation where I would.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My opinion on the issue of forgiveness may be completely wrong or not applicable to Bens' situation... But I don't believe a person can even entertain the idea that they could ever be forgiven until they actually forgive themselves. I watched a special on Ben and Sarah's case on the ID channel called, "Deadly Attractions". Throughout the show, many people involved in this case were interviewed. One of which was the husband of the lady who was robbed/shot/paralyzed by Sarah. He revealed that she was diagnosed with terminal cancer 4 months after the near fatal robbery. Subsequently, she passed away. But he stated prior to her passing, she had actually forgiven Ben and Sarah. So the way I see it is if the victim was able to forgive them, I can only hope they have since been able to forgive themselves. God Bless You Ben.