As he approached me, I caught a glimpse of tears glistening in his eyes. The rough-looking tattoos spoke of a different era in his life that seemed to contradict to the gentleness on his face. He briefly shared with our family about his earlier years when he was part of a gang and the rough life he lived. He said, “I lived a very rough life and I lost everything, but I want to thank you for deeply touching my life tonight.” He then told us that he was soon being released from prison, but this time, he would make it—because he’d found Jesus.
After 39 years of living behind bars, he was finally going home. But soon I learned that “home” was nothing more than finding a homeless shelter somewhere, because he had no one left. All his family and friends had died during the time of his incarceration.
Thirty nine years. Can you recall all that’s taken place in your life—and in the world—in the past thirty nine years? Maybe that’s longer than your entire life. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what this man was going through, had went through, and was going to face in the outside world.
I also think of the young woman I met on death row and have corresponded with. The crime she’s committed are horrendous, and she needs to be facing the consequences of these wrong choices. But I can sense the fear, remorse, and guilt that she lives with. I can’t even remotely understand what she’s going through.
There are many hurting people in our world. Many of which are our neighbors, co-workers, fellow church members and our family. Yet, many of them suffer and hurt. Alone. We silently pass them by without asking how they’re really doing. Or we keep our conversations to safe, surface levels because we don’t know what to say about the pain they’re facing. Because we don’t understand what they’re going through, we tend to avoid them. My friend, they need you more than ever. Please don’t skirt around their pain because you know you don’t understand or it makes you uncomfortable.
Let me as you this: do you care about them? Do you care enough to move beyond what makes you feel awkward to what makes them feel loved?
I know sometimes we’re afraid that we’ll say the wrong thing and cause even more hurt. But this is something that is always safe to say. “I know I don’t fully understand what you’re going through, but I care. Let me know if you ever want to talk about it.”
We were able to communicate that we cared and would be praying for the inmate being released from prison. I can continue communicating with the woman on death row that I care about the demons from her past that plague her.
Inside the person who has done the most evil or is the most hurt, is a soul that will spend eternity somewhere. A soul who was created in the beautiful image of our God. Your caring gesture and compassionate heart may help determine another soul’s eternal destiny.
~Cindy (For The Mullett Family)