The Price of Freedom

It’s been a while. Sounds like a broke record doesn’t it? I think about writing every day, but today is the only day I felt it was necessary. That I just had to get things out of my head and my heart. The trigger? Music. It’s my therapy, and sometimes certain songs take me back to places or events that I just don’t want to go back to. Thank God for the “next” button right? Seriously, thank You Lord! You always provide a way out! 

There are days you are able to listen to them and today is that kind of day. Can we say PMS? I have all genres of music downloaded and shuffle holds a whole other meaning when it comes to my music. One minute I can be praising the Lord and the next minute Biggie comes on and I go straight to the 90’s. Before I know it 80’s country is taking me all the way back to the good ol days. Then I hear some oldies that makes me remember that I should have come from that era. I should have been a poodle skirt wearing “pink lady”. Funny that I rarely wear skirts. Maybe because times seemed more simple back then,but my soul leans towards those days in the 50’s. Only thing is, I can’t decide if I would have been a square or a drape. Probably a little of both. You name it, I’ve probably got a song from that genre that I have or would have had I thought of it.

I don’t even know which song triggered the feelings that made me go back to the person I used to be. I know we aren’t supposed to stay there,but I do think I need reminding sometimes. Life gets busy and routine and I need that to remind me that life wasn’t like this once upon a time. Sometimes I can close my eyes and remember what it felt like to have my very own apartment. Laying in my bed just living life the best way I knew how. I don’t miss those days, but I miss moments of those days sometimes. Like that peaceful feeling I had laying across my bed in my first “home.”

That peaceful feeling absolutely didn’t stay though. Those were some hard times. Lots of lessons learned, but I was doing my thing and no one was gonna stop me. Oh the joy of being in my early 20’s. Most of those memories give me a feeling that makes me sick to my stomach. Just because I remember that feeling of emptiness I had. Not realizing what I needed was Jesus. I searched and tried to fill it with many other things. Alcohol for one. Lot’s of it. Parties, clubs,stupid,stupid decisions that I thank God didn’t land me in jail or in the hands of someone who could take advantage. (Been there too, ugh!)

An insecure young woman does not need any of the above to help her find her way. I know this because I was that young insecure woman. Looking for love in all the wrong places. When the one who I just knew could fill that void inside me was in prison himself. What a story right? I was in love with a prisoner. I hated it,but you love who you love right? I knew him before he went to prison, so that made it slightly better,but the reality was…we were both incarcerated.Sounds like a joke doesn’t it? Me in my own loneliness and insecurity and he that too and literally incarcerated.

Like being overweight all my life didn’t cause me enough insecurity;I added a prisoner as a boyfriend and we were madly in love. I wish I could tell that girl I was then a thing or two. But, instead I’m here. Writing about my experiences. I don’t know why, maybe it will help someone someday. Maybe it’s just to help me. Whatever the reason, here we are. A completely different version of myself than I was back then. I’m thankful for that. She was a hot mess! A woman searching for love and finding it behind bars. Maybe I should write a book. It would make a good hallmark or lifetime movie.

Big girl finds love in a criminal. See’s his heart and thinks her love can change his life. They build life together and it all crumbles. 3 kids and another prison sentence later, here she is. Praising the Lord for it! Told ya it was lifetime material. How does one get in touch with lifetime? Oh well, I don’t need a movie to remind me . I lived it. I’m thankful I forget sometimes because that was a bad time. How I should have turned to Jesus instead of an inmate.

I don’t recommend dating an inmate. No matter how long a sentence. I knew better, but loneliness can make you do some stupid things. I hated every second of it. Yet, I couldn’t not be with him. He was the only thing that made that hole of lonliness go away temporarily. He is the only thing that made that hole into a complete minefield of destruction. He is the reason I turned to Jesus completely. It wasn’t in vain. Thank You Lord! I just wanted to be loved for me. Not what I looked like. Not what I could do for someone. I just wanted someone to see me and love every bit of me. I thought he was the one who could do that. Now I know that someone who can’t love themselves are incapable of loving someone else in a healthy way.

If you happen to be in love with an inmate, I know your pain. That is a pain that no one could possibly understand unless they have been there. To have a piece of your heart somewhere else. Not knowing what they are really doing. Waiting on the next visit. Barely surviving until the letter is in the mail. We didn’t do phone calls. I didn’t have a land line and that was the only way to do phone calls back then. Cell phones weren’t yet smuggled into the prisons like they are now. I can imagine that we would have had one heck of a cell phone bill had they been though. Thank You Lord for not letting that happen. I would have lost my apartment for sure.

I know you go to bed at night wishing he was there. Wishing you could hear his voice. That you imagine him there. Wherever you are. That you dream about him getting released early so you can see him free sooner than later. I know you know exactly how many years, months,weeks and days he has left. I get it girl. I get all of it. I know you are miserably in love. As odd as that sounds. I know you have no support. I know you hate waiting in that line to be searched before you enter. To make sure you don’t have any cash in your pockets. That your shirt isn’t too revealing. How your stomach turns waiting for him to walk through the door for his visit. Smelling the other families cooking burgers and popcorn from the vending machines. Watching them play cards and board games. Taking tickets to get pictures made. For those few hours life is good. Then you have to leave.

If you have prayed about your situation and you have prayed together about it then I feel that the Lord will guide you the way He see’s is best. It takes a strong person to deal with those cards. I wish you the best and the Lord will prosper you if you keep following Him.

If you are thinking about dating an inmate. I don’t suggest that you do. I know they need friends and pen pals. I know they aren’t all bad people. I know they deserve second chances and they can have one. Wait until they are released. Let them figure life out before you invite them into yours. In my case, he was young and had never lived life outside of his parents (which wasn’t that good to begin with). He had no idea about bills and jobs and reality. Life was routine before release and being free was just too tempting. That love that I thought could change him meant nothing compared to the world.

I set up life before him and he walked right in. He didn’t build a life of his own. He needed to do to that. Lesson 37827 of the whole ordeal. My lessons may not be your lessons. You are gonna do what you want to do anyway. I can’t change your mind and I certainly can’t change your heart. I just needed to tell this small part of the story. For you, for me. For the young woman I was then. I don’t know. The music just took me to that place of loneliness that I know is filled with Jesus now.

Being saved and living for /with Jesus are not the same. I wasn’t dependant on the Lord like I should have been. He allowed my heart to be completely broken so I could turn to Him and know His power to heal it. To turn that hole that I was searching so hard to fill inside me into something whole. What a difference that is. So, no matter your situation. Incarceration of any kind is crippling on everyone who loves you. Inside and out.  We aren’t supposed to stay broken and lonely. We are supposed to live free.

Lord, Thank You for lessons learned. For staying with me when I was searching for things to take the void away. For being patient as I put so many things and people before You. Thank You for the reminders of where I was. Thank You for where I am now. You are too good to  me. Thank You for taking my lonliness away. Forgive me for not turning to You sooner. Use my story to help others. Let them see You in me. Be with the millions of people who are in prisons all around the world. The ones who love them. Who long for them to be home. Their victims and their families. Lord, You are the only one who can heal their brokeness. I pray they all turn to You to guide them in the way You would have them to go. I pray you give wisdom to those who need it. Show them forgiveness and touch lives as they see more and more of who You are. I pray that each one turn to You for comfort in their pain. Thank You for changing lives and I pray You change the lives of those around us who are incarcerated physically and mentally. I pray they have eyes to see You and choose You over and over again. Thank You for Your power to change and heal.

In Jesus name,amen

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