My Life Behind Bars


Is it a coincidence the only landmark visible from a jail is the steeple of a church?  I have a hard time believing it is simply that, a coincidence. 
My life was reduced to slow motion behind bars.  Standing in the middle of the rec room I was paralyzed by the swirls of laughing kids and purple balloons.  In that moment no one could have convinced me those kids were anything but good and blameless. My naive optimism was interrupted when I made eye contact with the guard and remembered I still stood behind eight inch thick glass and metal sliding doors.  It was a reality check of the fiercest kind- I got to go home at the end of the day.

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In a worn blue uniform she sat across the conference table glassy eyed and broken.  What does it take to make someone believe they’re unlovable?  One hurtful word?  Two abandonments? Fifteen bruises? Thirty disappointing speeches?   Weeks after our first visit, I ended another conversation with a prayer.  I prayed and she finally cried.  Neither one of us knew that would be our last meeting.  I wanted to guarantee security while shielding her along the way, but I was called to be a brief, solitary character in her journey.  Somehow that has to be enough.
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I checked in and left my bag with the supervising staff.  The incarcerated youth looked at me with questioning eyes.  They were unable to mask their curiosity as I sat down and introduced myself as someone entirely different than the normal 6’3”, 220 pound man they typically met.  I was given an hour to share a humbling story and then with the same number of questioning eyes following, I had to leave.   As much as I wanted to give them every answer they were looking for, I only had one to offer.  It can be difficult to trust in the sufficiency of words, even when they are not my own. 
Love holds no record of wrongs.  I’m learning.