There are things in this life that I never imagined I would do, let alone wanted to do. One of them is visit someone I love in jail or prison. But here I was doing just that.
Jail is the perfect place to use the word dingy. The walls were dingy, the floor was dingy, even the lighting felt dirty in some way. All I could take in with me was my ID. The security of browsing my phone or reading a book was lost and I found myself passing the time by people watching.
A little girl walked around precariously in jeans, a tank top and a bow in her hair. She held tightly to her young mother's hand as she waited in line. I found out later that in order to visit someone in jail you either have to be over 18 years old or be the biological or legally adopted child of the inmate you are visiting.
There was an elderly couple who could have easily been Mennonite, he with overalls and she with a long skirt on and a tight up do. There was a loud group of girls excitedly chatting with one another about why their "men" were in the joint, talking to a kid who couldn't have been more than two about how he was going to end up locked up one day because he was too bad for his own good. There was a lady rocking her newborn child who would be meeting Daddy for the first time. There were mostly women visiting, a few men here and there.
I sat there thinking about each of these individuals, wondering and perhaps judging their backgrounds. My heart ached for those children who were in a place they shouldn't have to ever see, let alone visit a parent in. I wanted so badly to tell some of those girls to wise up, get some self worth and stop short selling themselves.
Soon it was my turn to line up, walk through the metal detector and into an elevator. We went up a floor and were led to a room where there were six booths with thick glass windows and a telephone for each one. There was a large bay window in which we saw the inmates come in, all chained together, each one looking to see who was visiting them. Some of these guys looked so hardened, and yet I saw the yearning in their eyes as they looked to see who they were going to speak with. My eyes locked onto the person I came to see and my heart was filled with an overwhelming love for them. I wanted so badly to be able to hug them and to go run to our favorite food place to talk like we had so many times in the past. But there they were, behind glass, cuffed and out of reach.
We had our visit, my heart strings were tugged not only for my loved one, but for all the others as well. I have never felt so much love for so many strangers, on both sides of the glass. With our visits I saw the most simple of human interactions and in that moment I was given a glimpse of a reminder of how much our Savior and Heavenly Father loves each one of us. Regardless of our situation, regardless of what we have done, we are each loved. That love is real and pure.
A few days before I went to visit I was up late and came across a favorite quote of mine. "Courage, dear heart." (CS Lewis) As I reflected on that quote I came up with one of my own "Sometimes our heart breaks for others situations. In those moments we begin to understand true sympathy, true charity and true faith."
I am grateful for an opportunity to see one of my favorite people. I hope they know that they have done something for me that I could never repay them for. They have let me in, and allowed me to love them, even in jail, they wanted to see me.
This past Easter as I reflected on the resurrection of Jesus Christ I am humbled by the opportunity I was given to be able to experience a small fraction of what it is our Savior feels for each one of us, that it was truly a privilege for Him to suffer not only for our sins but for our sorrows and heart aches as well.
He is honored to be our Savior. I am honored to do my best to follow Him. I have on many occasions failed miserably. But I would like to think that I get a little bit better at it as time moves forward.