Mom's In Prison
Most of the women that I see in the jails are Moms. I feel blessed that I have that in common with them. I have seen women that have had children while in jail. I have walked through the pregnancy with them. I have seen them in pain on a thin jail mattress (at times they will get two). I have had them miss a visit because they are just too uncomfortable to get out of their beds. I have shown up to visits and been told they are out on a medical “visit.” I have seen them a couple of weeks later where they share the news of their new baby. Their bodies are wanting to feed their babies, their hearts just want to connect, yet they are in jail. One of the hardest things for me to watch is little babies being brought into the prison to see their moms only to watch them leave after the visit.
Being a mom, I know how hard this must be. I take for granted tucking my child in at night. I forget what a blessing it is to make sure they have breakfast in the morning, drive them to school and pick them up again. The women in jail grieve not having those moments.
Yet, I have also seen moms rejoice in jail. One mom shared that her child sent her Bible verses to read. Another mom shared that after several years of not hearing from her son, she was finally able to talk with him on the phone. “He sounds so grown and handsome!” she said, with joy and pride. Still another mom shared that she is both saddened that her son is struggling with addiction, and yet at the same time relieved that he is safe for now because he’s in jail.
There is so much guilt and shame for the moms in jail. They feel that they should be the ones to be caring for their children, but instead, they must rely on someone else. I understand the pain there is in that. Yet, I also try to share some encouragement and hope. First, I explain that God is setting them down and giving them a “time out,” much like parents do with their children. With God’s help, this “time out” will help them be able to learn about their Savior. And then, because of what they know, and having the strength to fight their addiction, they will be able to share Jesus with their children and be better moms.
We, moms, are good at guilt. We know that our children deserve better moms than us. Yet, God chose us to carry them and give birth to them. So, let’s share God’s mercy and grace with each other. We can remind each other of God’s beautiful promises to us such as:
He takes care of his flock like a shepherd. He gathers the lambs in his arms. He carries them close to his heart. He gently leads those that have little ones. (Isaiah 40:11)
Chaplain Sarah Guenther