On this day, 9 years ago, I started my 1 year sentence in jail. I remember the details of that first day like they were yesterday... the first strip search and shower, the first meal they refused me cause I got there a little too late, the first time I heard the metal door slam behind me, the bars, the smells, the cement toilet that was out in the open so they could watch me, the metal bed I had to sleep on the first 5 days before they let me out of maximum security and into the general population, and late that first night... a guy on the other side of max singing.... "Day-O, Day-ay-ay-O, Daylight comin' me wanna go home"
Boy, did I ever....
It only got worse from there. Jail was not a place I fit in. I felt like that guy in the movies that when asked what are you in for, he replies "I'm innocent" - except I wasn't innocent, but I sure had to put on my game face to be there without falling apart... I suppose I'm probably not the only one who does that. But after time it started to wear on me... the environment and the way of life... and before too long, I was fitting in more than I would have liked. I remember this young 19 year old used to get on the phone everyday and scream and cry and BEG her parents to come bail her out... I actually found myself yelling at her one day telling her to shut up. My mind couldn't take it anymore. I wanted out too and it wasn't a possibility for me. I was wearing a green jumper, instead of orange, which meant I was already sentenced and no matter who I begged, nobody was going to come pick me up.
I'm convinced if I didn't find out I was pregnant with Desirae when I did (about 2-3 weeks after I got there) I would have probably killed myself, especially after the day when we saw another girl 'attempt' just that. She snuck her razor into the bathroom (you had to sign them out for showers) and by the time we found her, she was unresponsive and the bathroom covered in blood... And since they never told us what happened and she never came back, we'll never know if she made it. I doubt it. Shortly after I got out of jail, the girl I bunked next to got out and hung herself. She was only 20 and had a little girl. I would say that probably 90% or more of the people sitting in jail are there because of drugs and alcohol.
The reality of the pain and darkness that comes with addiction to drugs and alcohol is hard to put into words. All I know is that it could have been me. My life was a mess when I was drinking and drugging, but the real problem was on the inside. The damage it did to my soul. The failed attempts to fill a hole that could only be filled by God. The pain of the aftermath, for me and my family was long lasting. I needed God and I had no idea.
And so today, I'm thanking God that He rescued me and saved me from myself. I am thanking Him that He has POWER over anything that may be a stumbling block for His children. Thanking Him that He is stronger than any power of hell or scheme of man...and that now that I am His, NOTHING can pluck me from His hands.
But on this day, I would also like to remind everyone that we have no clue what struggles someone around us might be having. We have no way to know the paths they have walked (unless of course you're me and put it on the Internet!) but just because someone is sitting in church, is married with children, is involved in ministry and seems to (or really does) "have it all together" does not mean a thing. I can't tell you how many people were TOTALLY surprised when I shared my testimony the first time in church... cause why? Cause I don't look like a druggy that has been in jail. Wanna know another secret? I've been married before. See what I mean? You never know.... email me if you want that story....
My purpose here is not to point out that none of us are perfect and we all have a past, I think we all know that...my purpose is to point out that we need to be paying attention to the needs of others, even if it doesn't make sense to us. I wish I could explain more about where this is coming from...but I can't, I was asked "not to blog this" after I confronted someone on a situation recently - all I can say is that God wants us to be aware of where other people hurt and struggle and then to support them and to not be a stumbling block for them - Regardless of what the rest of the world does or thinks is appropriate...Regardless of how the world handles certain situations, like bringing beer on construction sites (is that cheating?) ... Regardless of what reasons or excuses you have to do it. Regardless if it seems like no big deal to you. God is clear on this one. He calls us to be aware of others. And that doesn't only mean be aware if they might fall because of a choice you make, but even if just because someone might be offended - I know, "offended" is considered a negative word, that is only because nobody likes to hear it if they offend you. So they say you're the bad guy and question your character for being offended instead of caring that they hurt you in the first place.... OK, as you can see, I'm getting myself going so I'm going to stop now...I could get into all sorts of topics on that one last line. I think you get my point.