Tonight as I did prison ministry, my mind and heart raced. I listened to a man talk about how he tried to commit suicide rather than bounce back in. I heard his pain and I felt my own frustration rise at the system that failed him. We had been in contact “on the street” as they say in prison lingo and when I saw that he was back inside a few months ago, I had hoped we would be able to talk. Tonight that happened.
Talk he did. Almost non-stop for the visiting hour, he told me one thing after another, with me sliding comments and reflecting back to him what I heard whenever I could. I challenged him on some of his thinking, telling him he deserved better. At one point, he admitted I was right, that he did deserve better. He told me about the crime that he committed and I could hear the shame in his voice. In life, most of us mess up at some point. Perhaps we do not do something that lands us in jail, but we do something dishonest or act without integrity and Grace steps in and washes that away…or attempts to but may be blocked by our lack of self-worth. I saw that so clearly tonight in this man and my heart broke a little. I see it from time to time in the men who are really working on themselves. I am humbled when I see it.
I also feel rise within me a deep desire to hug these men who need to know they are loved–in an honest, non-sexual way. I sense that God wants to scoop them up in arms that heal and squeeze out all that holds them prisoner to their mis-thinking and self-loathing. We build our own prison walls sometimes. These barriers prevent us from living fully and joyfully. We fool ourselves into what we call reality when God desires freedom from our limiting thoughts.
What walls are keeping you locked up right now? Can you let go and allow God to permeate these barriers and heal them?