I saw this video posted a million times on FB over the past week and since it was about prison, I didn't watch it because I didn't think it was relevant to me. I did, however, end up watching it just because I really like the song. It's not a popular Christmas song that makes no sense at all, like grandma getting run over by reindeer but it's one of my favorites and makes the most sense of all the Christmas songs out there!
I was actually moved when I watched this. It was relevant! I've never spent a day in prison but in some ways, I've spent an awful lot of time behind prison bars others have built for me and some time behind bars I placed myself.
I have had the privilege of spending more time than usual with my dear, sweet friend May. If you want to read how we met 18 years ago...go HERE
The day before Thanksgiving, when the boys and I went over to try to get her van started, she was very hesitant about letting us take it to a shop to get repaired. She is a hoarder and has schizophrenia so her reality is slightly different than mine. Her van is filled to the gills with things, mostly newspaper and fast food containers, even some dollar store trinkets but they are treasures to her. She wanted to pay us for offering to help but I refused to take her money. Instead she offered us some expired Papa John coupons which I gladly accepted. It is always so tender to me, how innocent and happy she is.
By Monday, the apartment where she is staying complained about the dead van and told her she had to have it out by Tuesday. She called me to see if the boys were still willing to help. Spencer was gone but my Wasband was happy to help us. I had to tell her that she had to let Sam drive her van behind my Wasband's truck so that he could control it better as it was being towed. She was really nervous that Sam might steal her things. I kept assuring her that he wouldn't touch anything. She spent a good 15 minutes showing Sam where the steering wheel was, the windshield wipers, how to turn the key in the ignition. She took inventory of her things, she checked her pockets, her two fanny packs, her three overstuffed, canvas bags. She was scared, out of her element and anxious. I put my arm around her and said, "May, I promise you that we are not going to hurt you, steal from you or take advantage of you." She looked into my eyes and said, "Okay. I'm just scared."
I felt so sad for her. She lives in this world that appears chaotic and disorganized but it is meticulously arranged with a system to protect her. A prison of sorts. She doesn't have the freedom, due to her illness to be anything other than this.
I have thought about my own existence, my own prison. Are we really that much different from one another? We all have our insecurities, our fears, even irrational fears. We just want to feel a sense of security, belonging, and acceptance.
The world just doesn't cater to these basic needs anymore and does the world really even care? We spend more time than we should judging one another, sizing people up, criticizing their perspective, and discounting their reality. Compassion and empathy happens in spurts for most people, acutely. Worse than that...we do it to ourselves. The result is, we never live beyond the bars and boundaries that surround us.
I have seen this scenario play out in so many different ways this week, not just with my friend. Even Spencer has struggled. He knows deep down that he can't work and go to school full time but he has struggled to make the decision about what to do. He doesn't want to be held hostage by his disease. He wants to belong, grow, learn. He wants the perfect picture of what a return missionary should do...go to school, plan a career, date, marry, get a job. Nowhere, in that great expectation is there room for chronic disease and daily illness. It broke my heart when I heard him say..."I just need to take a semester off from school mom. I'm sorry for being a screw-up." I just hugged him and loved him. Never have I thought he was a screw up. He knows I don't buy into the perfect yardstick people often carry to measure success.
In the isolation and loneliness we all feel from time to time; in our private little cells where we retreat, there is a Savior. No matter what we suffer with in this life. No matter what our shortcomings are, however different our reality or perspective becomes, we are children of God. We are all just trying to navigate our way back to our Heavenly home in a world that makes it nearly impossible to claim our royal birth. I really hope that during this month, but always, we will see each other with forgiving, patient, compassionate eyes. With the same loving eyes that our Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ see us with. That's my hope for me...I can do better.