Who am I to judge another person’s transformation for authenticity? Thankfully I don’t have to, unlike a few of my friends who make their living doing just that.
Both of them work in prisons as chaplains. While they minister to the incarcerated they are asked to write letters to parole boards, for pardons, reduced sentence and such. They don’t always write those letters or speak on behalf of the people. However they say, if the change is an honest change, they will go to bat on behalf of the individual.
I distinctly recall, in one of the classes I took with my friends, that something like 80% of all people who are incarcerated claim to find religion or strengthen their beliefs while they are locked up. I guess that it’s like the old saying that you don’t find atheists in foxholes during battles.
I do believe that these kinds of transformations can and do take place. I’m grateful that I don’t have to figure out if the transformations are just for show or are the real thing.
One of my friends says he doesn’t worry too much about that, he looks at the evidence he sees and feels and listens to what his heart tells him. Of course he also believes that actions show dedication, or lack there of, to the words that are read or spoken.
Both of my friends tells me that even when they go to bat for someone, they do so in a respectful way so as not to negate or diminish the crime/actions that led to the person being incarcerated. They both believe in second chances, even third and point to the scriptures of how and why we must do this. As they point out, what makes one person better than another. Human’s, according to scripture, are not perfect and as long as we learn and move in the right direction that’s all they can ask for; that’s all anyone can expect.
Scriptures are black and white, or whatever color the text is printed in! Humans and our behaviours aren’t always black and white, we are bound to make mistakes as we go on our journeys. We are fortunate to have people who understand that forgiveness doesn’t equate to approval of what we have done in the past. Rather forgiveness and second chances are an opportunity to show what we have learned, apply the lessons to our lives and be better people.