A few weeks ago, I learned that my grandchildren’s mother got arrested…again. In April, she bonded out after sitting there for nine months. She made a bunch of promises to the kids in March that I fussed at her about. She was in no position to make promises, and, as I knew would happen, she didn’t fulfill any of them when she got out in April. In fact, she never contacted us. She disappeared. She still hasn’t gone to trial on those charges, and now she has more.
I told her this time she wasn’t going to talk to her children: no phone calls, email, visits, or letters. I told her if she called and I was working or the kids were with me or I was in public, I would not take her call. It hasn’t stopped her from trying, and every single time she’s called I was either with the kids, working, or in public.
She’s decided I hate her.
What do you do?
To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not in any hurry to talk to her. I don’t hate her. You can’t hate the child you raised and nurtured through childhood and the teen years. They are a part of you.
The other day, she undermined my decision about contact and sent the kids a letter. On this day, Victoria got the mail out of the mailbox. Neither of the grands love doing that–there’s a tiny spider who hangs out there–but for some reason, she did it that day. I intercepted the parts they didn’t need to read but fought hard to hide my anger over this action.
More and more, my daughter has become a person I do not like. Like is not the same as love. And not liking someone doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love them. I can love her and dislike her actions. It’s complicated, but what relationship isn’t?
In church, we’ve been talking about walking the second mile as a good neighbor to those who are in need. This past Sunday, Matt, our minister, talked about who our neighbor is and specifically mentioned those in prison.
I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36
I can’t do it. I don’t have the energy. Not anymore. I’m not the one who needs to visit her. She needs encouragement. I’ve done it many times over, and I’m tired.
Why am I telling you this?
Because wherever you are, there is someone in prison whose family has hit that point. The person is prison still needs encouragement, and a family member is the worst possible person to do it. If the prisoner has not admitted to their mistakes in full, they will wear that family member down to a husk with promises and pleas and manipulation. I’ve seen it first hand. While visiting her, I’ve watched family members cry, yell, storm out, cajole, and provide the wrong things to their loved one. Someone who is not a close family member can say things to them in a different way. Can keep the emotions out of it. Can let them know that God hasn’t turned His back on them.
So, please consider it. You can’t just walk into a prison and visit someone. There are rules. But please, if this speaks to you, check it out. Prison inmates are captive audiences, literally. They are open to contact from Christians more so than the general public.
It takes a special person to do this, but I’m certain some of you reading this are that kind of person.