The one thing that is always true of my duel professions is that there are always intersections where the two worlds are poised for conflict. (You know what they say about phrases with the word always in them…they are always false. Smile.) The experience that gives substance to the lie is my working in the jail. Whenever a new inmate arrived, especially when that inmate was charged with a particularly horrible crime, I was challenged to be something different than that which was common around me. Where my fellow deputies might give into a lower impulse…nothing illegal, but still lower than what would be acceptable to the Lord, I would have to forgo that impulse.
There was an occasion where on one night an inmate came in and was offensive in almost every way you might think, even to the point of his attacking a fellow deputy. At this point, it was my duty to stop the threat while assisting my fellow officer. The hard part was in having to stop before I went too far. The impulse to give into anger, to become the punisher rather than the administer of justice. Conflict.
The question of how to institute the higher law of grace and mercy where doing things “the normal way” would not be questioned. On most of these occasions this conflict did not register with anyone else, for the battle was solely within myself. Do I apply that control-hold for that one extra heartbeat; do I ignore that inmate’s reasonable request just because of what he’s done or who he might be? These are the battles I fought and still fight. But then again, in reality, it is the battle we all fight: Will we do the right thing when it is time for the right thing to be done? Conflict….Just saying.