Friday, April 1, 2011

Attitude Adjustment

Four years ago, after living in an old farmhouse for almost a decade, we were finally building a ranch home. We stopped by the new house one morning to talk with our electrician, who was finishing the wiring. He greeted us with three scary words: “You’ve been robbed!” He went on to say that someone had stripped all the copper wiring that he had installed.

My emotions went from relief that it could have been worse, to anger, especially after being informed by the Sheriff that there wasn’t much he could do. He would record the incident, but added, “This type of crime happens far too often. Most of the time it’s for drug money – they get desperate.”

The insurance company wasn’t encouraging either. We were basically out the money with no recourse.

All afternoon I struggled with my emotions. I felt violated and angry. How could someone stoop so low as to steal from others? What goes through a person’s mind to think it was okay to take something that didn’t belong to them?

When we finally returned home to the farmhouse there was a message from Pat, another volunteer from the jail ministry I was involved in. She said a female inmate, “Marla”, was having a tough time adapting…could I come and visit her and offer her some hope and encouragement?

Still frustrated about the robbery, I called Pat back and lamented about it until I finally remembered Marla. I couldn’t visit her right away, but I would soon because, “My plate’s pretty full right now.”

“That’s okay,” Pat responded understandingly. “I’ll visit her tonight; no problem.”
“But Pat, you’re going through a lot now, too.”

“Well,” Pat continued, her voice calm and peaceful, “You know how it is. When you reach out to others who are suffering, it helps keep your own problems in the right perspective. Marla’s hooked on drugs. She’s in there for stealing. She’s devastated over what she has done and wants to stop, but the addiction is so strong. I’ll visit her tonight and …”

“Wait,” I interrupted, my eyes suddenly filling with tears. “I think I need to visit her.”

I slowly hung up the phone, humbled by the plight of this woman. The anger over what a stranger had done to us, all probably due to a drug addiction, was giving way to compassion and pity.

Our jails and prisons are overcrowded with people who are battling substance abuse. Oftentimes these offenders were previously upright citizens who never intended to get hooked. Their addictions led them to commit crimes that they would never have considered before. Sadly, many programs that offered assistance to addicts have been cancelled, and the waiting list for inmates to enter half-way houses is usually way too long. Add to that the lack of jobs and poor economy, and it becomes a vicious cycle.

Now, more than ever, Christians are needed to come alongside prisoners of despair and offer them hope. Many offenders have never heard of the life-saving truth of the gospel. They often don’t know that Jesus can offer them a new start in life, that He loves them and will forgive them.

That visit to Marla four years ago culminated into one of the biggest blessings of my life, as we are still good friends. She has stayed clean since getting out, restored her relationship with her family, and knows without a doubt, that God loves her.

…I was in prison, and you came to visit me (Mathew 25:26).

1 comment:

Caroline said...

A very relevant topic for today. Addiction is powerful. Thanks, Connie.


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