Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The daughter of a murdered father

I know. Not the happiest of titles, but I'm afraid my random thoughts might not be happy either.

Today my brother got a letter from the Florida parole board explaining that in September 2011 the man who killed our father almost twenty two years ago will be up for parole. Today has been a blur since that news was shared. We were told a long time ago that if we wanted to make sure he stayed in prison that all we had to do was write a letter to the parole board. But it leaves me asking, Why write the letter?

Who am I that I should decide the fate of a man who made a stupid mistake? (He got scared during a robbery and pulled the trigger.) Yes, I think we need to pay for our mistakes. Yes, I think people who commit murder should go to prison. I don't think he should spend the rest of his life in jail though. He's already spent over half his life there. Do I deserve freedom anymore than him? How many times have I driven too fast, or pushed my car through the light that was a little too red? How many times have I been behind the wheel after drinking something? Or how many times have I blacked out from drinking? The answer doesn't matter because ONE time is too many.

Through my relationship with Christ I have learned to forgive the man, Keith Minor. A few years ago, maybe seven, I felt the conviction on my heart to write him and share my beliefs and my forgiveness. None of us ever deserves grace or forgiveness. It is only through the One who paid it all for all that any of us receive grace. And it's our job as believers to pass that on to those who have hurt us. The Lord's prayer makes it pretty simple "Forgive us as we have forgiven others." Why is the God of the universe going to forgive us of so much when we are unable to forgive so little. God doesn't have a rating for sins the way humans do. Me drinking too much even one time is the same in His eyes as Keith Minor killing my father. Through that letter a line of communication was opened. He is truly sorry for what he did, not just because it has cost him so much, but genuinely sorry. I still have that first letter. We wrote back and forth for a couple years. He shared with me a lot of the pain of his past and his anger with God over the death of his own parents. (His father killed his mother and then committed suicide on a Sunday morning as Keith was getting himself ready for church.) I also sent him a bible and asked him to read it, starting in the New Testament. He was hesitant because of his anger with God but told me he would anyway basically because he had nothing better to do. One of the last letters I received shared with me that he had become a believer and received Christ's free gift of salvation. I don't know where his walk is, but I do know that the same Holy Spirit that occupies me also occupies him. I know that God has given him a second chance, just like he's given me, even if society isn't ready for that. And if Jesus can forgive the men who took His life shouldn't I be able to do the same for the man who took my father?

But then the other side of me yells inside. He took my Daddy. Twenty two years ago I lost one of the most amazing men I will ever know. He robbed my Daddy of seeing my high school graduation, welcoming my first serious crush into the house before going out for the evening, walking me down the aisle at my wedding, seeing his grandchildren born. I've lost twenty two years of laughing and watching Bears and Cubs games. I've lost out on fixing things. He would have loved my Mustang. He would probably be helping me right now with the little projects that are over my head around the house... the leaky faucet in the bathroom, the electrical box that needs repaired. He was an amazing man of God and where I've gotten my heart for serving God. He knew that as a believer service was a privilege and responsibility, not an obligation. My children, nieces, nephews and even my baby sister, don't know my father as anything more than a picture that sits on top of my entertainment center with the flag from his coffin. They know that's where Martin got his name. They know the story of how he died. But they've been robbed of a Grandpa. And if my Dad was such an amazing daddy, how much better would he be at being a Grandpa whose soul job is spoiling and fun?

I think what it comes down to is this, no matter who writes a letter, how long he sits in jail, whether he received the death penalty or life in prison... no matter what else happens, no one, NO ONE, can bring my father back to me or my family. And if it can't do that, then what's the point?


Mary said...

What an amazing testimony you are giving by writing these words. I thank God that you were able to forgive this man for what he has done. And I am so glad that you were able to share with him your faith and help him to turn his life over to the Lord. What a mighty God we serve!

Michelle said...

You are an amazing woman of God. It's not easy being a Christian, but times like these it must make things easier! Love & prayer goes out to you & your family!

Heidi said...

I found your blog through a friends and so glad that I did. I spent almost 2 years working in corrections in Alaska and your thoughts are refreshing. When I started I thought that everyone there deserved exactly what they got....when I left I knew stories, faces, names and in some cases even a little about the hearts that made these men who they are. For example, one man was there because his car broke down in -50 weather and if you know anything about that temperature or Alaska then you know you have MINUTES to get out of it if you aren't prepared for it. Well, people pick other people up no questions asked on either end in those situations. Well, what this man didn't know was that the woman who picked him up was on parole for drug related charges and when she was pulled over minutes later she was arrested for a felony MICS charge and because he was in the car it is pretty much automatic jail time since they assume with the volume that was in the car you were either looking to buy or sell. Sorry to ramble. Something about your post just made me think about my journey with those men and women that have forever changed my heart and mind. I too share your opinion of how small the veil is that seperates "us from them," and how at any moment we could be sitting right where they are....