A couple of months ago I shared an experience that we had with a young man who was in prison. If you recall, he was quite upset with us because he had ordered a book and had not received it. We had tried to send it to him, but he had been moved from one prison to another in the meantime, so it was returned to us – twice! Not only was this young man upset, he also threatened to report us to the Better Business Bureau if he did not receive his book. In the end we wrote him a letter of apology explaining what had happened, returned his check, and still sent him the book. We told him that we were not “out to get him” and again, explained the circumstances surrounding the entire event.
Several of you responded to that Tip. Apparently, some of you have also had the experience of trying to help someone and have it backfire on you due to circumstances that were beyond your control. It was very refreshing to hear your insights and views on the subject.
Well, guess what? We recently heard from our friend again, except that this time it was an entirely different situation. The young man had received his returned check, along with his order, and a full explanation from us, as well as an apology for having put him through additional emotional stress. To my surprise, he responded like a champion! Here are a few lines from the letter we received from him:
“I want to start by apologizing for the tone of my last letter. The current position I am in, which I put myself into, leads to a lot of people, agencies and corporations taking advantage of our lack of communication and resources. I wrongfully assumed that this was once again the case. I am very sorry! I am also sorry it took me so long to write this letter. I did not write to complain to you. I wrote to thank you for your gifts and understanding. I only ask you that you keep me and my companions in your prayers.
Again, thank you for everything. You have helped me to see that humanity is not lost.
God bless you!”
Wasn’t that a nice response? Here is a young man who, according to his own account, has gotten himself into some serious trouble. Yet, he takes full responsibility for his own actions and behavior. He will serve his sentence and be released one day in the future. I am very pleased to see that he took the time to write us a letter of explanation and apology in order to make things right.
In his letter he stated that we restored his faith in humanity, but I have to admit that his apology helped restore mine, as well.
Of course, I realize that there are some people who will never change. That is a sad fact of life. However, many people do. It is possible to learn from our past mistakes, regardless of how serious they were, and become a better person. I believe that may be the case for this young man. I certainly hope so! His letter of apology encourages me to believe that he is a person who realizes that the circumstances of his life can actually be used to turn him into a better person, rather than a bitter one. It took courage for him to write that letter and I am proud of his growth!
A lot has been said over the years about people who are in prison. A friend of mine once shared with me the importance of reaching out to those who are incarcerated; although another friend rather sarcastically remarked, “I think we should be more concerned about the victims than the people who are in prison.” I can certainly see both side of the issue. Which one of us does not want to see justice served when we, or someone we love, are hurt? So, I realize that there are two sides to every situation. However, I also know that when a person learns from the error of their ways and starts to walk in a new direction, they can eventually do more good than perhaps they could have otherwise. I think it is very powerful to see how a life that has been broken can be restored.
This week you may deal with someone that you think will never change. The truth of the matter is, you and I never know. Our part is to be a blessing and encouragement to all with whom we come in contact and do everything we can to point them in the right direction. If this young man were a member of our immediate family or someone else we loved very dearly, we would be grateful that he had turned from the error of his ways and was walking in a new light.
I commend this young man for his efforts to make something better of his life starting now! I want to join him in making my own life better each day. Will you?
Tip: People really are amazing!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm