Monday, August 12, 2013

How Many Chances?

I don't know if you've ever attended a parole hearing for a good friend.  I hadn't until last week.

It sucks.

I've talked about my friend many times in this blog.  He went to prison for killing a man while driving drunk.  He's been in prison for about four years now, I believe.

My friend's biggest enemy is his arrogance.  He's often lived his life blaming others for his own problems, failing to recognize his own faults and addictions.  He often has skirted the rules and coasted through life.  This DUI accident he had was a wake up call and, truth be told, prison has been very good for him.  It has changed him in positive ways.  He has become more responsible, more faithful, less selfish, and more accountable.

But he still has that streak of impatience and entitlement.

A few months ago he was put on a work release program where he still resided at the prison, but was allowed a regular job and interaction with the outside community.  It was a privilege he was granted because of good behavior and because he's always been a low risk offender.  And like so many times before, he squandered it.  He got too cocky and knowingly broke a rule; a minor one, but it was enough to have his work-release privileges revoked and he was sent back to a medium security facility.  The sad irony was that in just two days he was to be released to live with Jonah and I while on parole.

I've known this guy for nearly nine years.  He's a good person, but he gets in his own way so often because of his pride.  I've dealt with his screw ups for years now.  I'm forgiving, but I've also had enough.  If he is paroled (which wouldn't be until November), Jonah and I will take him in as was originally planned and we will hold him accountable if he messes up again.

As I sat at the parole hearing watching my friend explain why he should be paroled and taking full responsibility for the actions that brought him to this point, I wasn't feeling hopefulness that his parole would be granted nor was I feeling doubt that it would be granted.  I realized I just didn't seem to care, and I felt bad about that.  I've always tried to be supportive of my friend, but I'm just tired of the pain he has caused himself and others.  I look at what he's put his friends, family, and fiancee through, not to mention the family of the man whose life was taken due to my friend's selfishness.

I didn't know many details about the man who was killed until about a year ago.  He was an Iraq war veteran...who had only been home a day when friend killed him.

My friend always seemed to live for himself, for his pleasure, for his needs, never taking into account (or never caring) how his actions might affect others.

I do think my friend has changed a lot...and for the better since he was incarcerated.  He has been sober for 5 years now.  He is active in AA.  He has been a model prisoner for the most part.  He is more responsible and less selfish than he used to be.  And I know people make mistakes.

Yet there is a part of me that wonders if once he is free of prison if he will return to his old ways.  My friend has always had the best of intentions, but his follow-through is sometimes lacking.  I want to believe he will stay on track, but I've seen him go through so many second, third, fourth, and fifth chances that it's hard to have faith in him.  I just feel he constantly disappoints, and it is exhausting.

We'll see what happens, but as I sat at this parole hearing, I just felt sad for my friend's wasted life and chances.  I don't know that that's really true, though; yes, he wasted the life he could have had, but in actuality, I think prison has made him a better person, so that's not really a waste.  I just pray he can hold on to it.

1 comment:

LCannon said...

funny how you talk of forgiveness as that is what my talk is on next week. And I've debated about including Matt 18 when Peter says to Christ - "I've forgiven my neighbor seven times. Isn't that enough?" I smile because Peter is so human. The Lord's answer comes hard - especially when you don't have faith in the change of behavior as much as you do at knowing the intentions are there. 70 X 7 is hard when your humanness starts forgiving out of routine than of true forgiveness. So does that count?