I spent five Christmases in prison and each one was emotional and filled with joy, regret and hope. Joy for what Christ did for me in coming to earth to save us. Regret for all of the people I hurt over the years I lived so selfishly. And hope for the future, that God has a plan for me, to give me a hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11). Most Christmases in prison were spent watching TV, reading, calling Lisa and other family and in worship. I found it was better to be busy and focused on the positive. I would also give small gifts to the few friends I made in prison. They weren’t much, a t-shirt, a candy bar and a card, but it helped us to feel a connection to something bigger than ourselves. I also tried to anonymously give a small care package of food and toiletries to a brother in need.
My calls to Lisa were both joyous and sad. It was nice to hear her voice and know she was still supporting me. But it was tough hearing her and other family members celebrating without me. I just prayed for their joy and peace. It isn’t about me anymore. In my previous life it was ALL about me. In prison, I learned the joy that comes with putting others first.
This year is my first Christmas out of prison and for that I am so grateful. I think about those still in prison (and their families) and pray for them to find peace and joy in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Merry Christmas!! (Luke 2:1-20)