This is the second post written by my mom, with my permission. First article “Looking Back” was posted on November 2, 2014.
SMILE! Say Cheese!! We all do it. We smile. We act like everything is OK. We appear to be happy. We go through the motions of day to day living. But inside, we are hurting and in pain. Have you been there? Have you faked a smile, faked a happiness that you don’t have? I have. Oh, there are been wonderful moments of joy the past three years……the birth of grandbabies, the wedding of a son, a husband being released from a long stay in the hospital, visiting kids and grandkids. But there is always that ache in the pit of my stomach that wants to hide from it all. I carry on publicly because I have to, but sometimes I feel like life has stopped on the inside.
Yes, my son did this to us. Not intentionally, of course. Life is unpredictable and Satan tries to destroy our sense of purpose. It is a spiritual battle we are all in – for the rest of our lives. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion and wants to wreak havoc on God’s people. Where has God been for the past three years? We know God never creates evil, but He does permit it. He sometimes permits tragedies, but He will never allow Satan to triumph. Good day, bad days. God is in all the days, even when we feel like He is missing.
As parents, we couldn’t DO anything to help our son. We had never felt so needy in our lives. We knew nothing about legal help. There were astronomical legal fees which required us to figure out where to get the money. We could not telephone Craig and had no way of knowing how he was doing physically and mentally. I hated what we were experiencing.
In order to see our son we could only visit one day a week, for a short 30-minute visit. And the visit was through Plexiglass, talking on a telephone. We touched through glass and had so much to say in such a short period of time. But that’s all we were allowed. And because it was a 7-hr drive, our visits were few.
The most devastating day since the ordeal began was the day he telephoned me after being transported to a medium security prison. “If you don’t hear from me in a while, it’s because I placed myself in solitary confinement. They are coming after me to kill me.” No mother ever wants to hear those words from her son. He had only arrived at this place 3 days before and was trying to find his place in the system, but there were gangs who wanted to show their power over a college educated white man. So they made it known he had better watch himself. Obviously, it scared Craig who was not a street-wise person, who just wanted to get through the days, months and years in a quiet responsible way. The only way to be safe at this place was to ask to be placed in the Special Housing Unit – solitary confinement. While in solitary confinement he was allowed one telephone call per month. He had no window in his cell. He was truly in a place where he did not know day from night. After receiving that phone call we immediately sent out an email to our prayer warriors asking for prayers for Craig’s safety. We contacted Craig’s attorney, who basically said he was through with the case and could do nothing. What? We paid you over $150,000 for this? You did us absolutely no good, Mr. Attorney, in the courtroom or out of it. How do you sleep at night?
We did not hear from Craig for three weeks and assumed he was at least safe – albeit in solitary confinement. Finally, he called us and we were relieved to hear that no harm came to him. Now he was stuck in solitary until they decided to move him to a different location. He could not go back to the main compound at this place or his life would be in danger. So we began praying for a new place, a place where Craig could make the best of his situation, a low security prison where he would be safe.
After hearing from him, we needed to know if he was truly OK, so we drove eight hours for an hour visit. We had to wear certain clothes, went through a metal detector, were searched and patted down, had a special dye wiped on our hands, taken through numerous metal doors. This place was surrounded by many layers of concrete walls, along with razor wire. It made me sick to my stomach to walk into this place. However, we were able to hug and touch him when we finally saw him; the time went by too quickly. He was doing all right…..spent his time reading and writing and praying. He was in solitary confinement for five months, not going outside one time during those five months. Three meals were brought to him each day and given to him through the small door in the cell. He had two different cellmates during this time, both of whom he witnessed to and encouraged in their faith walk. God had a plan, not the kind we would have chosen, but one that was best for Craig. He had Craig’s best interest in mind, even when it didn’t seem like it. As a mother, I knew he was at least safe in solitary confinement, but concerned about his mental state. If you ask Craig now about those five months, he will indicate that he is grateful for that time. He learned to focus on God’s Word and spent hours and hours studying and praying…..like a personal retreat.
After five months our prayers were answered. Craig was sent to a low security facility where he is now. Craig not only survives at this place, he thrives! God is all over Craig. His life was turned upside down. But when God is in the middle of your life, evil becomes good. He will make good out of this mess Craig has brought on himself.
Needless to say, it has been a long, expensive, and discouraging three years. As I look around and see how far we have come, I have found joy, peace and gratitude for this crisis. It was a gift that brought my son closer to the Lord than he ever was, a gift that brought me closer to the Lord than I ever was. The crisis removed the fakery. Oh, I still fake a smile sometimes when I don’t really feel like smiling. But the crisis ripped away the sham that made people think we had it all together, that we were the perfect family. No one, absolutely no one, has it all together. Even those who look like they do are going through something…..you can bet on that!
The last three years have been spent mostly in waiting….waiting for updates from the attorney, waiting in line for visitation, waiting for another court date, waiting for a phone call from Craig since we cannot initiate any calls, waiting to physically touch him without a Plexiglas window between us, waiting on a sign from God that He was aware of our situation. You, too, may be in the waiting room. Maybe it’s the stress of a child’s disability, the death of a spouse or loved one, a divorce, financial struggles, loss of a job, unexpected diagnosis from the doctor, an accident that causes permanent physical challenges, adult parents who need assisted living. This is NOT the time to grow bitter or angry. This IS the time to practice thankfulness. No matter what, be thankful. While you wait, God works. God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:28 To wait means to not assume the worse, worry, fret, or take control. Waiting is to stay focused on God through prayer and believe. Someday the story will say: all is good. Believe that God is at work in ways you cannot see. I could hear God speaking to me, “You are not alone, Linda. I see your son and I love him more than you do. Keep holding on to hope.” God can say the same to you. He is with you in the middle of your mess and He does not call you a loser or a failure. He has your back and He has your front. The storm is raging, gossip is being heard, the circumstances may appear grim, but He goes through it with us and that gives us the hope we need.
There have been many days where I have woken up terrified and confused and wondered where God was. Our crisis has made us turn to God in our lowest moments. In one moment in time, everything about our future changed. Our carefully developed plan for our family took a U-turn. We wanted to spend our retirement years traveling and enjoying our children and grandchildren. But that’s not the way it has been. Everything we have done for the past three years in regards to this situation was unfamiliar territory…… uncomfortable and undesired. Courtrooms and visiting rooms are like being in a foreign land where we didn’t belong. But there was no going back. We could not change what had happened to us, but we could decide how we would live our lives in the middle of it. So we choose to hope rather than despair, to trust rather than give up. Our faith has sustained us. Faith is putting one foot in front of the other no matter how dark and confusing the journey. It’s the moment-by-moment choices that prove you’re taking God at His Word.
People have turned their backs on Craig; they have judged him and criticized him. Those things hurt me, too. I cannot control what others think about my son, but as the song says, I can “let it go.” I know God is in charge; He is omnipresent and omnipotent. Why didn’t He answer our prayers when we were screaming out for charges to be dropped against Craig? And why doesn’t He do something now to bring our son home? We were baffled at what seemed like silence from God when we were in constant prayer for our son. I don’t understand why my prayers were not answered the way I wanted. But I do believe that God has a better plan and so I trust Him. Even when I’m tempted to question God for what He has allowed to happen in our lives, I know He loves each of us. So we relinquish our control over this complicated situation and move forward in life. We have let it go. You must let your situation go also.
As I look around today, I see that God has been faithful. He has not responded in the way we have asked, but He has been with us and with Craig each step of the process. As I look around today, we’re doing OK. We’re not happy our son is in a federal prison. But we are proud of the man he has proven to be. He is remorseful, strong, courageous, bold in his faith, a forgiver, filled with optimism, confident, a hard worker, honest, responsible, kind, compassionate, has a sense of humor, excited about life, easy-going, compassionate, humble and devoted to his friends and family. He is someone I want to be like. You see, I see Jesus in my son. And what mother doesn’t want to see that! For that I am truly grateful!
God, I release to you what I cannot control. I give you my pains, my hurts, my struggles. I hold my life and the lives of my family with open hands and give them to You. Take us and do what Your will is. Take Craig and use him in ways we cannot even imagine. I trust in You, Lord, and in the miracles you are going to show us!!