A Mother’s Day Reflection
Children’s Program Manager
Prison Fellowship International
My mother was one of the strongest women I have ever known, but I will never forget her reaction as a bailiff escorted my oldest daughter, Lena, into the courtroom following her first arrest.
As Lena shuffled across the floor wearing a bright orange jumpsuit, shackled and handcuffed, my mother gasped in disbelief and began sobbing uncontrollably. I, on the other hand, just sat quietly in the chair, too numb to do anything.
Nothing prepares you to see your child in that state.
As I watched the scene in the courtroom unfold, my emotions varied. I felt shame, regret, tremendous pain, a sense of hopelessness and intense anger. My mind was racing with thoughts about what I could have done to prevent Lena’s behavior and this situation. I also kept asking myself and others how I could have been a better mother.
I know that the feelings and emotions that my mother and I felt at that moment, and over the years while we have supported Lena during her incarceration, are not unique.
I have been involved in prison ministry for over 18 years. Throughout that time, I have ministered to many women who have shared their stories and experiences with me about supporting an incarcerated child. Some were mothers and grandmothers who have or had incarcerated children. Others were or had been incarcerated mothers and grandmothers themselves. And, just like me, all of them expressed shame, regret and anger about their child’s or their situation.
People often forget that incarceration not only impacts the prisoner, it also impacts their families. Mothers are especially impacted when their children are incarcerated. They gave birth to them, nurtured them as they grew up and, in most cases, played a major role in raising them. Many mothers feel responsible for their child’s actions and believe that they are a direct reflection on them.
All the challenges and pain associated with supporting an incarcerated loved one are innumerable and, without support from family, friends or a church, can seem unsurmountable. But I am here to tell everyone that with God’s help, prayer and the loving support of fellow believers, it is possible to persevere, to face each day and to provide support to an incarcerated loved one.
Families of the incarcerated, especially mothers, need to hear that Jesus loves them. They also need to know that we love them too, no matter what their family member has done. They need to know that Jesus is always with them, that He will never leave them or forsake them, and that He is a very present help in their times of trouble.
In Hebrews 13:3, we are told to remember those who are in prison as though we are in prison with them, and to remember those who are suffering as though we are suffering. I believe that means, as Christians, that we should be doing everything we can to support prisoners and their families.
This Mother’s Day, take time to remember all the mothers and grandmothers who have incarcerated children, and all the incarcerated mothers around the world.
Pray that they will feel Jesus’ presence and be comforted. Pray they will be reminded daily of Jesus’ great love for them and His love for their children. Pray they will find a loving and supportive community to support them. Pray that their children will be safe and provided with the things they need.
Finally, pray that Christians around the world would take these verses in Hebrews to heart, and that they will be moved to pray for and provide support for prisoners and their families.
CLICK HERE to learn more about supporting a child with an incarcerated parent.