Despising the Shame

“He, because of the joy that was set before him, endured the cross and despised the shame…”

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays for many different reasons.

When I was a child, it was because of the pretty dresses, the colored eggs and Easter baskets.

As a young adult, it was definitely the message of hope that was, and still is, in the Resurrection story.  The fact that a plan that was intended to destroy Jesus actually proved to be the incredible wisdom of God was powerful beyond words to me. In fact,  as I look at some places that “appear” to be dead or beyond repair in my life today….I still get excited with the possibilities that I am reminded of when I think of the power of the cross!

This year, I have a deeper and more personal connection to the journey of the cross that I never had before.  I can relate to the choice that Jesus made when he DECIDED to endure the cross…and when he DECIDED to DESPISE THE SHAME THAT CAME ALONG WITH THE CROSS.

You see, there is a certain degree of “shame” that is associated with loving someone in prison. It is the shame that causes you to only talk about your loved one to those that already “know your situation” or with those who you think would understand.

It is the shame that causes a mother of four to speak only of her three children, because she doesn’t want to answer any questions about the child in prison.

The shame is real….but so is the decision that I can make to despise, reject, abandon and refuse it!

This year, I recognize that we can focus on the shame….or we can focus on the joy that is coming on the other side of this journey. And I am convinced that there are so many loved ones of inmates who are doing this daily.

Yesterday, I sat in a visitation room that was full to capacity; and I saw so many people there who have made a DECISION to DESPISE THE SHAME…..and to love any way.

I watched an elderly mother on a walker; stand in the doorway with tears rolling down her cheeks until she knew that her son had completely exited the visitation room. I imagine that she knows quite well what it means to despise the shame.

Before yesterday, I had never considered the loved ones of Jesus who were there watching as he ENDURED THE CROSS. I realize they too had to DESPISE THE SHAME that came along with being connected to Him.  But I can hardly imagine the joy and victory they experienced when the saw the outcome on the other side of the cross!

Is it an easy choice? No. Do you make that choice one time and for all? I don’t think so.

But each time that we DECIDE TO DESPISE THE SHAME we are one step closer to the other side of the cross.

Today, I am encouraged as remind myself that there is another side to this story! I encourage you to stay focused on the joy that is beyond the cross; and to DECIDE TO DESPISE THE SHAME!

Love Pains

Have you ever noticed that the littlest things can cause us to feel some of the biggest pains? Paper cuts, in-grown toenails; tiny lashes in the eye….. ouch, ouch, ouch!

Well on many days and for many different reasons, such is the case as we walk alongside our loved ones in prison. It is often the littlest things that hit my heart in the deepest way. Beautiful days that would be perfect for a walk in the park; love songs that play in perfect sequence on the radio or moments of victory that just don’t seen the same when you share them over the phone… once again…ouch, ouch, ouch!

Now even though we may be tempted to utter a few “not so nice words” I doubt that any of us would fall out in a tantrum or go off the deep end at the hand of one of the tiny natural pains. Somehow, we are built in such a way that we are able to take the pain and to live beyond it.

And such is the case as we battle with the “love pains” that are a part of this walk. They are just as real and just as intense as a razor cut across the finger. But you are equally built up with an internal reservoir of strength that allows you to live through the love pain.

Sometimes, there is not much to do other than breathe deep; sigh out loud or just hold still until the pain passes. Some days are better than others; and some moments last longer than others. But know that you equipped to endure and that you will make it through!

Worth the Weight…

There has never been a time when I have been ashamed of my husband. In fact, I always find myself smiling with pride as I watch his determination to score a major comeback from a life setback.

But even though I am incredibly proud of him, I still haven’t gotten completely comfortable with the questioning looks, secret thoughts and sometimes bold remarks that I get when people find out that my husband is in prison.

Initially, I felt like I had to defend him; to explain his entire life story and help people to understand that “he really is an amazing man.” {Well….he is an amazing man….but I don’t feel the need to prove it to anyone anymore.}

Most recently, when I shared with an individual that my husband was in prison, I was asked “What makes you feel that you should put your life on hold while you wait for him?”

I’ll be honest, at first I was about to suit up in my gladiator attire and step into the ring for this question. But I am oh so glad that I didn’t.

Instead, I took a moment to process the question and to find the words to fully covey that contrary to their obvious assumption, I am not a miserable woman who is waiting my life away. Instead, my love choices are deliberate and full of rewards.

And all of a sudden “It” finally came to me. “It” being the answer that I can confidently give as to why I am a “prison wife.”

The first thing that I clarified for the individual is that BY NO MEANS am I “just sitting around waiting” for my husband. Of course, I can’t wait for him to be on this side of the walls. However, in the meantime I live a full, active, peaceful and joyous life; that includes family, fun, fellowship and future goals!

Second, I shared with them that the commitment that my husband and I have made is to live everyday on purpose and to strive to accomplish the very things that we were destined to do IN SPITE OF our current situation. We fully believe that our story will be used to help someone else along the way…and in order for that to happen we must successfully make it to the end of each test.

Finally, I confirmed for this person that THIS JOURNEY IS DEFINITELY NOT EASY. There are so many WEIGHTS that come along with WAITING for your loved one’s release from prison. There is the weight of being separated; the weight of parenting in this circumstance and the weight of finances that must be balanced….just to name a few.

But one thing that I AM ONE HUNDRED PERCENT CERTAIN ABOUT…..the benefits of experiencing an unselfish love far outweigh every one of those weights! In fact, when I start to sort through everything (both good and bad); and when I look at the indescribable gift that I have been given in the form of my husband…I can boldly say….that every part of this journey is WORTH THE WEIGHT!