Life is full of challenges.
Sometimes it felt like I was the only one facing impossible odds. The world was against us (well, maybe not the whole world, but the whole judicial system!) We seemed to be chasing deadlines and rules, and the roadblocks seemed endless. I asked myself more than once, “Am I crazy for believing we will make it through this?”
We had survived over 10 years of Ron being in prison...
Between appeals, motions, and rumors of changing laws, we were dealing with the pressures of bills, children, and trying to build a better future. The most challenging time for me personally was when Ron’s motion for release was granted and then six months later it was overturned. I couldn’t believe we had survived over 10 years of Ron being in prison, just to have them rip our family apart again after only six months.
I will never forget the day I got the phone call from our attorney.
It was another one of those moments that changes the course of your life. Even before he said the words, I knew something was gravely wrong. He started with these words, “Remember what you and your family have been fighting for. No matter what happens, you have to do the right thing.” “Oh, no. This definitely is not going to be good,” I thought. Then he told me. The court of appeals had overturned Ron’s release and Ron had one week before he had to report back to prison.
My world came crashing down around me. It was unbelievable! How? Why? I was three months pregnant with our third baby and the thought of raising another baby in prison visiting rooms made me want to throw up. I just couldn’t imagine how I was going to get through the coming week, never mind the coming years. Hope shattered in my heart. Read more about this season in my journey.
The coming weeks were excruciating.
I cried, and cried, and cried until I had no more tears. I begged God, pleaded with Him, bartered with Him. The only answer I got was a single phrase, “I have parted the Red Sea.” I had no idea what that meant, but after that God was silent to my anguished pleading. When Ron walked back into prison the next week, I went home and yelled at God, “WHY????? Don’t you see the pain my sons are in??? Don’t you see what this is doing to them, to me?” Silence.
The smell of the prison made me nauseous as I walked in.
A couple of weeks later, the boys and I went to visit Ron. The smell of the prison made me nauseous as I walked in. Here we were in a visiting room again. I was struggling to find the hope and peace I needed to get through this chapter. It didn’t make any sense to me. We were doing all the right things, living our lives to build a legacy for our family. And yet, we were robbed of the simple gift of being a family that lives together. My boys, who had been 2 and 4 years old when Ron had first gone to prison, were now teenagers. We sat together in silence around the small table waiting for Ron to come out.
When Ron came out, we sat down together and looked at each other. Ron offered to pray, so we all held hands as he began to pray out loud, “Thank you, Lord, for protecting my wife and my children and for providing for them while I am in here. Lord, we thank you for your blessings and ask that you will send us where no one else will go.” “STOP!!” I demanded. I did not want to pray that ever again. We had begun praying that when Ron first went to prison 10 ½ years ago. Look what it got us. No way!
“Ok, do you want to say the prayer, Cathy?” Ron asked. “Yes.” I responded. Then, I just sat there, not knowing what to pray. I had begged God to keep Ron home with us, and He was silent. I had asked for our family to be together, and He sent Ron back to prison on a legal technicality. Ron offered some help, “Maybe you could pray… Lord, we will serve you as long as we get our way?” I glared at him. “Or,” he continued, “Lord, as long as we get to live together, we will honor you and be joyful.”
"As I surrendered, I was filled with hope again"
I started to cry – not the disappointed, hurt, and angry crying of the weeks before, but a resigned, relieved, and releasing kind of cry. The weight I had been carrying around for the last couple of weeks lifted. We were going to be OK (read more). It was scary and difficult, but we would cross this “Red Sea” and come out on the other side. As I surrendered, I was filled with hope again. Just because I didn’t get my way, didn’t mean that our family was doomed or that our future was over. It was just another chapter in our journey as a family.
No matter how hard the road, don’t give up. You can face any challenge, climb any mountain, and conquer any obstacle when you have hope. Hope is the substance of things not seen. Hope doesn’t disappoint. It is Hope that inspires dreams, and Hope stirs courage to make your dreams become reality.
It is ok to cry.
You NEED to let yourself mourn, but don’t stay there. When you are finished crying, get back up, dust off your bottom, raise your head, and march on with hope. Whatever life brings your way, DO NOT LOSE HOPE.
I am rooting for you!