The Power of Forgiveness


“Tom” is one of the older inmates, having been incarcerated off and on for two thirds of his 68 years. He is kind, likable, smart, and faithful. He’s a big advocate on camp for our Stephen Covey class on 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We’re not supposed to have favorites, but it’s impossible not to really pull for Sammy as he is nearing release.

One day Tom appeared to be troubled. He said that he was worried about his 88-year-old mom. She is experiencing great guilt that she had been a poor mother raising Tom. She keeps asking herself, “where did I go wrong with you.” Tom assured her that she’d been a great mother and that the decisions he made 40 years ago that led to his incarcerations were all his own doing and that he took responsibility for them – language and wisdom that came straight from the Habit 1 of 7 Habits.

I suggested that he write his mom a letter in which he reaffirmed what a good mother she had been and that she should feel no guilt for the mistakes that he had made, but if she still felt the need for his forgiveness, he of course forgave and loves her.

A couple of weeks passed, and I saw Tom in the chapel. He had a huge smile, held my hands with both of his hands, and thanked me. The letter had taken a huge weight taken off his mother’s shoulders. He thanked me again, but I told him that it wasn’t me but it was his and God’s love and grace that had done the work. His response, “you’re right about that Mr. E, you’re right about that.”

It’s such a privilege to see God at work, and we get to see it every day.


-Robert Esleeck, Transition to Work Director