A note from Tony: There are many different victims of crime, whatever the crime may be. Most overlooked, I think, are the families of those who are sent to prison for their crimes, particularly the spouses of those who have failed at freedom. A couple of years ago, while still incarcerated, I started a ‘series’ titled “Giving A Voice To The Victims”. There were a few articles posted that were written by a brave young woman, but then……silence.
A couple of weeks ago, a woman emailed me and informed me that her husband was going to be self-surrendering at Oakdale FCI on May 5. He would be beginning a 10 year sentence, and she had stumbled upon these ‘Chronicles’ looking for information on the prison. She wrote to thank me. I was humbled by her kind words and we exchanged several emails containing questions and answers about what could be expected, etc.
Then I had an idea, and I asked her if she would be interested in writing about this situation from her perspective. With that said, enough of my words. Here are hers:
by Diane S.
You know when you aren’t speaking to someone because of some stupid reason or another and eventually you get to the point where you aren’t sure what you are even angry about anymore? Your mind starts wondering what they are thinking about you; what are their feelings about the situation, etc? Over the last week I have come to understand that those feelings can happen even if you aren’t mad at someone, but happen because you can’t communicate with them. The constant thoughts in my head never stop. I have always been one to play the “what if” and “I wonder” game. It’s exhausting really. It has become down right debilitating this last week.
Tomorrow makes exactly one week since we pulled into the parking lot of the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale LA where I left my husband 6+ hours away from our home to serve his 10 year prison sentence. I have not spoken to or heard from him since 3pm Tuesday, May 5 2015. It’s not unexpected; we knew he would be placed in the S.H.U. (special housing unit) for a few days. I was prepared for 2-3 days, not a week or more. I have written him a letter every day, most days two letters, and I have no idea if he has received them. I don’t know how he is feeling. I don’t know if he has been as miserable and hurting as I have been. I don’t know if he has found comfort in his Bible as I have. I don’t know if he has felt any comfort from the many prayers being said for him on a daily basis. I don’t know if he spends his days crying or depressed. I know nothing.
And my mind wonders…
My husband is a very positive and optimistic person. Has he already lost that? Has he kept his head up and looked toward God for his strength? Has he opened his Bible? Has he become angry at God? What if this has broken the seemingly unshakable faith he had when he walked into that facility 6 days ago?
I don’t know.
What does it look like in there? Has he been eating (he is a picky eater)? Has he been shown any kindness? Has he found any ‘bread crumbs’ from God, as a dear friend of mine likes to call the small signs of God you find on a daily basis? Is he even looking for them at this point?
The questions never stop and so far there are no answers. There will be answers and I pray for them to come soon. I may go insane if it’s another week or two. I pray he gets to call me tomorrow, exactly one week after entering. I should probably insert right here that he went into prison for a sexual offense; he is a sex offender. I am the wife of a federal inmate ‘SO’.
But I am a proud wife. I am not proud of what he did to get himself there, but I am proud that God is working in our marriage & our hearts and that we still have a marriage. I am proud that we have not given up; that I have not given up. I wanted to, I thought about it, and goodness knows plenty of people have told me to. All I can say is ‘…but God.’ That’s it. He is the only reason I am still married. He is the only reason I want to be married. He is the only reason our marriage is being reconciled and restored.
We started this journey 17 months ago and it hasn’t been easy ‘….but God’. It’s a very odd thing when a wife makes the decision to stay with her husband after he has done something that will land him in a federal prison as sex offender. Details don’t matter to anyone; 90% of them think you’re crazy; 5% pretend to support you and then there is the 5% that truly does love and support you. The best way I have heard it put is from the writer of this blog when he said “I am not as guilty as I seem to be, but I am not as innocent as I’d like to be.” I can’t say it any better. My husband made mistakes. Big ones. Hurtful ones, there is no doubt about that. So that statement is exactly true for me: he is not as guilty as he seems to be but not as innocent as I’d like him to be.
It’s not an easy thing to stand beside a man in my husband’s position. I have lost friends and loved ones. But I have gained friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. It makes me wonder how many wives out there have left their husbands due to peer pressure and that stigma that comes with being a prison wife. How many really wanted to stay but couldn’t deal with the new circumstances in their life that they had no control of bringing into their life?
It’s not an easy choice or an easy road to walk however you decide. I didn’t make my choice, God made my choice. I have spent much time in the last 17 months praying. I always come back to the very same thing, and I mean always, every single time. Even the times when I had my bag packed, my car in reverse and the enemy was jumping up and down with glee thinking he had finally won in ending our marriage. I never backed out of the drive and here is my why: Jesus lived a perfect and sinless life and suffered immensely so that we could be forgiven. So that we could ALL be forgiven. My husband accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior on January 5, 2014. He is a changed person, truly changed. He asked Jesus to forgive him & it was done. How can I, a woman of flesh, not give that same forgiveness to my husband and allow God to work in our lives? If I could not forgive him then to me it seems like I would be saying I am better than Jesus because he can forgive but I won’t.
(And yes, I do know that you can forgive someone without continuing a relationship with them. I know that is okay & no one would fault me for that, however, that is not where God is leading me).
One of the things that constantly baffles me on this road is how people view sin. I have encountered countless people that think one sin is much worse than another. We are all sinners in need of a savior, period. When I stand before Jesus I will be just as much an equal sinner for the abortion I had when I was 18 as my husband will be for things he has done to put us in this current unthinkable circumstance. We will both be forgiven sinners.
God has some great plans for me, for my husband, and for our marriage. As hard as this is and as hard as it will be, there will be good from this. God doesn’t make mistakes and His plan is always better, even though I am not thrilled with this part of the plan right now and I sure would have chosen differently if I were in control.
The good news is I am not in control, He is and he knows what He is doing.