After the initial introductions, these were so obviously a deeply seated part of her life.
Yes, she had what she sees as a legitimate reason for her anger and bitterness.
If her situation were mine, perhaps I would feel the same.
I hope not!
The biggest problem with anger and bitterness as I see it
is the effect it has on its owner.
It’s like drinking poison on a daily basis.
It may be directed at someone else,
but the damage is internal.
I met this great-grandmother on Saturday as I worked with the prison ministry.
This well-dressed, well-polished woman surprised me when she began to talk.
Her grandson is serving time.
She says he was wrongfully convicted.
I surely don’t know whether he was or not.
I don’t even know why he’s serving time.
That wasn’t why I was there.
Rhonda (a new friend I met Saturday) and I served as mentors for the day with
this woman’s grandson and his two daughters.
It was a good day.
A day for a young dad and his two daughters to just be “normal” in anything but normal surroundings.
It was a day they could dance
and play games
and make crafts
and laugh at really corny jokes
and see the love of Jesus in action.
Rhonda and I watched as the 4th grade daughter allowed a layer of attitude to melt away as the day progressed.
We watched as the kindergarten daughter kept climbing up in her dad’s lap and just laying on him.
We watched as the dad ate it all up.
It was good!
As it always does, the end of the day brought tears.
Tears that the day was ending.
Tears that the circumstances remain.
Tears that it will be at least a year before this dad and his daughters will experience another visit like this one.
Tears that dad has to stay while they have to go.
But it was a good day.
A very worthwhile day.
As mentors, it is our job to stay with the children from the time they leave their caregiver
until they are picked up at the end of the day by that same caregiver.
We said our good-byes.
They hugged a few more times.
And the dads had to walk away, leaving us standing with their children who were happy and sad all at the same time.
At the end of the day, the caregivers gather outside the prison gate
where they can see the balloons the dads and children release as their last activity together.
Then we exit the prison and match the kids up with their caregivers.
They are always standing in a group, excited to see their children and to learn of their day.
But Great Grandma wasn’t amongst the group.
We searched again.
She wasn’t there.
Then I spotted her.
She was standing across the parking lot, waving us over to her.
Our 4th grader was teary.
Grandma wasn’t happy about that.
She mistook the tears.
That was all it took for the anger and bitterness to once again flow out of her.
She rued the fact the girls had come.
We assured her it had been a really good day.
She spoke sharply with the girls standing there of the harm the day had caused.
We assured her it was a positive day for them and her grandson.
We encouraged her to speak positively of it with the girls.
She just couldn’t see any good.
My heart was broken.
Broken for the girls.
Broken for this great-grandmother.
This woman who doesn’t even realize the poison she drinks everyday;
The damage she is doing to these little girls.
Before we parted, she asked us if this was a “religious thing” where we were trying to “convert” people.
The word “religious” was spoken with disdain.
My heart broke again.
Yes, Jesus was shared.
Because Jesus is the only answer to truly living life.
We can’t always change our circumstances,
but God can change our hearts through His Son, Jesus Christ.
The purpose of our day was to allow children a day with their dads.
We do this because we love God.
We do this because God loves those dads
and God loves those children
and God loves those caregivers
and God loves us.
And yes, we share Jesus.
Why wouldn’t we?
He is the only antidote for the poison called bitterness and anger.
I can’t get this grandmother off my mind and heart.
It is my prayer that her heart will be softened and will joyfully receive the love Christ has for her.
It probably won’t change any of the circumstances
but it will definitely change the way she goes about handling them.
And it will change the words that come from her mouth;
those words that, in my opinion, do more harm to those girls
than the fact their dad in serving time.
Lots of love,