Monday, March 17, 2008

G.A.P.S. in my Character

After I had been working at my new job in the Chapel for about a week, I made an appointment to go in and talk with the Chaplain. He was ex-military and no nonsense and I needed his opinion on an issue that was eating me up. Every since I had entered this place, everywhere I turned, I was being told to lie about why I was here. It was tearing me apart.

As I sat down in the Chaplain's office, I visited for a moment and then got right to the meat of the issue.

"I'm not sure if you know why I'm in prison but I think I need to tell you. I was arrested for possession of child pornography. That's really not the worst part of it. The pornography was of gay boys...mostly teenage boys."

There, I'd said it. Chaplain Krantz sat there looking at me with a look on his face that I couldn't quite read.

"I didn't know why you are in here and it really doesn't matter. Are you gay? That really doesn't matter to me either...that's between you and God. What is it you wanted to talk to me about?"

Now it was my turn to just sit there and look at him for a moment. This was not going quite like I had planned it in my mind. I had to quickly regroup my thoughts.

"Well, I'm really struggling with the reason that I'm in here. I've been told by just about everyone that I've met that it's not safe for me to tell the truth, and part of the reason that I'm in here is because I wouldn't tell the truth to people who may have been able to help me. I can't keep living a lie and I need some advise."

"It's no ones business why you're in here. And you just need to tell them that. Just explain that your past is behind you and that you are working to become a new person. Is there anything else?"

He looked down at the paperwork on his desk, and I took that as a signal that the visit was probably at an end, so I told him no, and I thanked him for his advise. I stood and left his office and went back to my own desk in the outer office.

Could it really just be that simple? I had my doubts, but what he said made sense to me. Over the next several weeks, I thought about it a lot and continued to read my Bible and some other Christian books that I had checked out of the library.

One night as I was walking the track in the rec yard, the word GAPS came to my mind. As I continued to walk and think, and try to talk to God in the midst of the music blaring by the basketball courts, the guitars and accordians players in the grass and the profanity from the other men who walked past me, the word GAPS continued to roll around in my mind. Pretty soon, words started to fill into place. The "G" became "greed", a word I had figured out helped to describe my past several years. Next, the letter "A" was replaced by "angry". I didn't really feel angry, but I knew God was giving me the word for a reason. Angry was followed by "pride" and I definitely knew where that word was coming from. Although I had convinced myself for years that I wasn't a prideful person, God had peeled that lie away. Finally, the word "selfish" completed the acronym. Greed. Anger. Pride. Selfishness.

It made sense as I thought about it. Every man that I had met in prison had one of these characteristics in common...most had more than one. It occurred to me that we were all in prison for the same reason. We had GAPS in our character, and that resulted in us (me) making a really poor choice(s) that led us here.

It turned out to be so simple. I wasn't asked by a lot of people why I was in prison, but God had given me an answer that wasn't a lie...and an opportunity to witness for Him. I was here for the same reason everyone else was. I'm a sinner, pure and simple. And so is everyone else. No more lies! Just a simple declaration that like all men, I have G.A.P.S. in my character, and they led me to this dark place.


Deb said...

Nice acronym and multiple meaning. It could have been GASP.

I hope you'll explore each of the letters and how they evidenced in you life before prison. Most especially the anger.

I hate only getting a post a week, by the way. I want to be able to sit and read the whole story, cover to cover. So hurry up, okay?! =)

Deb said...

evidenced in your life - it was a typo, really.