by Diane S.
“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29
“In every encounter we either give life or we drain it; there is no neutral exchange.” – Brennan Manning
I like to write words.
It tends to serve me better than speaking them most of the time. People who know me know they are better off texting or emailing me instead of calling me. I also find it easier to speak kinder when I write, because I can think about what I am saying. I’m sure if you added up how many times my mother told me to “think before you speak” when I was growing up it would easily be well over 10,000. I guess I am lucky technology has come such a long way that I can do most of my communicating by writing words. I am trying to get better with speaking and answering phone calls of concerned friends.
I am a work in progress.
Words are funny little things. If you put the right ones together you can lift someone up but if you put the wrong ones together you break someone’s spirit. You can also leave people not knowing how to take the comments you just made. I find that is often the case in my current journey. People don’t know what to say, so they just say anything. I know most are well meaning, but I often have to take a deep breath and make a conscious effort to not be offended.
It is becoming clear to me that the path I will be taking on this journey is not what most people assume the path of a prison wife would be. It seems the general theory is that I will be married yet single for 8 years and it should be great. I will be able to do whatever I want and he will not know, I will not have to answer to him for anything I do or how I spend money. Yes, many people have said that to me. The first few times I was offended, but I’m not anymore. I just remember I am a Christ follower and I am called to be something different.
So I just tell them that isn’t my path, that isn’t something I am interested in. I am not planning this journey and the One who is isn’t interested in how much I can do without having to answer to my husband about it and I am more than ok with that. It’s odd to me that SO many people think like this. The other fairly common response is “when is the divorce final” or “has he been served papers yet”. They don’t even ask if that is going to be my path they just assume that I am getting divorced because who would stay with a sex offender who is going to spend 8 and 1/2 years in prison?
The really bold ones say things like, “God wouldn’t want or expect you to stay in this marriage.” I find that one more offensive than the others and it always take me a second to calculate my response so my words don’t meet theirs with the same level of toxicity theirs had on me. It’s a challenging encounter and I don’t always do great. I try, but I am human. I am a Christian but I am not perfect. Sometimes those words feel like a knife cutting straight into the center of my heart and it’s just human nature to strike back. I’m getting better. If I could just make everyone talk to me through writing I’m pretty sure I’d have a 100% record at always succeeding at responding eloquently.
I’ve already learned a great deal and this is just the beginning of this chapter of my life. If there is one thing above all others that I have learned thus far it is that the words you use impact people. You have the choice to make that a positive or negative impact. It is hard to make sure your words are always giving life and not draining it. Even when someone speaks draining words to you, it’s your responsibility to speak life back to them. You may be the only breath of life, the only glimpse of the Jesus’ love they get on that particular day so choose your words carefully.
Some days I want to look at people and yell at them “DO YOU KNOW WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW?!?” after they speak negative, draining words to me. I haven’t done that yet and I pray I never do, because anyone I would say that too could look right back at me and say the exact same thing. Everyone is going through something and just because theirs may not seem as catastrophic as my husband being in prison for 8 and 1/2 years, to them whatever it is seems every bit as horrible as what I am dealing with. I try to be sympathetic to that and use empathy when I speak and often times that helps me to speak life.
There really is merit to what my mom always told me, “think before you speak.” This holds true for everyone you encounter, but especially for someone you KNOW is going through a difficult struggle. If you don’t know what to say to someone like me, then just say “I’m so sorry you are going through this” or “I will pray for you and your husband.” That is enough. Nothing more is needed and either of those is much more appropriate than a comment about how it’s great that I can be married and single at the same time.
Words from Tony: Unfortunately, the situation that Diane finds herself in repeats itself on a daily basis all over this country. While I was in prison, it seemed that the number of spouses willing to walk this journey with their husbands was greater than I would have expected, although there were plenty who, unlike Diane, actually did back out of the driveway.
I have no condemnation for those who left. I have no negative feelings toward them either. I am filled with sadness for all parties concerned because all have come out of their relationships with less than when they went into them. I could go on and on, but I will not use up Diane’s ‘time’ for that.
That people would think the way Diane indicated they do, and that they would say the things she wrote about kind of stunned me. Perhaps they all should take Diane’s mom’s advice.
The rush of emotions when individuals go through something like what Diane is going through is pretty intense, especially in the beginning. I have several articles from Diane ready to post, so I will be putting them online in relatively quick succession.
She has a lot to say, and I think she says it well.
I pray we will all listen, and learn, from her, and that we offer her our prayers and support.