Due to the current restrictions, it’s been a while since I have been able to go on my regular visits to prison. But I think about past visits often.
I remember a moment from several months ago. The atmosphere was heavy. The men were discussing difficult issues they were facing in their current circumstances and painful moments from their past. The stories were heartbreaking. Although many had happened years and years ago, the memories were still raw and painful.
As we were wrapping up, one of the men who had been hesitant to express his grief decided to speak. He began to open up about his thirty years behind bars, sharing that he tends to suppress his grief to survive his long sentence. But then he softly admitted that, from time to time, he needs to remember the heavy grief he carries and shed the tears that flow from this reflection.
“Looking at my grief reminds me of my humanity,” he said.
Grieving is part of what makes us human. We all experience grief, to varying degrees. And we all have probably experienced moments when we thought we had moved past grief only to have it well up inside us again.
But it’s only when we face our losses and grief that healing can begin. Our wounds may be deep, but they can draw us near to the One who has experienced the deepest level of grief.
Isaiah 53 describes Jesus as “a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.” That is good news for both us and our students. Jesus knows our grief, and He meets us in our pain and sorrow with compassion and love. Only He can bring true healing.
Although you might not see students use the word “grief” in their letters, you might notice it in the way they describe their past hurts or their present suffering. A student might write about missing their kids or a deceased loved one. Tell your student that they might be experiencing grief, and that is OK. Encourage them to seek Jesus and bring their pain to Him. Let them know that it might take time, but Jesus can bring healing to their heart.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
Serving alongside you,
Church Mobilization Director
Crossroads Prison Ministries
NEWS & NOTES
- Correctional facilities in Texas have been returning some cards sent to students by Tier 2 mentors. If you want to send a card to your student, we suggest sending them in a standard white envelope. Better yet, use the stationery we provide instead of a card to ensure that your encouraging message will make it to your student.
- Lessons marked with highlighters and colored markers are being returned to our office. Most correctional facilities do not accept materials marked with colored pens. Please remember to use black or blue ink only when corresponding with your students.