“Chow Time!” says the officer over the speaker system. “Line up at the door.” And then we wait and wait for the doors to be opened. Once the doors are opened and we walk to the chow hall, we have to wait again to get our food. Every 50 minutes during the day and evening time there is a move we must make. Once the move is announced, we have to line up at the door and wait for the door to be unlocked. We have to wait in line to use the showers, the bathroom, and even telephone. Do you notice the theme here? In prison, the officers are known for making us hurry up to wait. On average, at least one hour a day, sometimes much more is spent on pointless waiting. But that’s the way of life in prison.
When I first got to prison, all the waiting time was difficult for me. But as my time here progressed, waiting got easier. I learned to carry something with me to help with the waiting, like a book or magazine or even a crossword puzzle. I know to never leave anywhere without my green binder full of magazines, puzzles, even letter writing material. My waiting time is definitely not being wasted. Unfortunately, for some inmates waiting time brings out the worst in them. They are constantly complaining, arguing, and sometimes a fight will even occur. Patience is something that needs to be learned here.
I can’t say I’ve ever waited and camped out for days in a line for a concert or sporting event ticket like others have. But I have had to wait in my share of lines for hours and hours, especially for roller coaster rides at amusement parks or waiting at the airport for a vacation. Those waits are well worth the wait. It can be tough to wait in lines especially when the end result isn’t always the greatest: checkout lines at the store, traffic jams to pass the construction zone or accident, and especially lines at the DMV (Why are those who work there always so angry or crabby anyway? I think when I get out, I’m going to get a job there and turn it into a happy DMV! HA!) Of course these days when waiting people just pluck away on their cell phones to kill the time. Face to face social interaction with others seems to have come to a standstill. Maybe God put you in that line for a reason to talk with the individual next to you? Just saying…..
As I write this, I’m exactly three weeks away from being able to leave this place and start my life all over again. Unfortunately, though, I will not be able to go. Most of you don’t know nor ever will know that it is very easy to get sentenced to prison, but extremely hard to leave this place. On sentencing day, the judge gives everyone a release date. That date is constantly changing though, with earning good time and programs that reduce time. However, more times than not, inmates shoot right past their release date and continue to wait. An inmate’s paperwork has to be absolutely perfect in order to leave here. That means every T needs to be crossed and every I dotted. Because an inmate is not in charge of their own paperwork, the judicial system takes their time getting everything squared away before allowing one to enter society again.
In my file there is some messed up paperwork so I am still uncertain as to my release date. Yes, I continue to wait. No, it’s not right. But then committing a crime is not right either. And yes, this system is very messed up. All I know is that this is out of my control, and that all I can do is pray and wait. God is in absolute control and knows what He is doing.
Look at all the people in the Bible that had to wait – Abraham, Moses, David, the Israelites, Joseph. The list could go on and on. The end result always seems to be worth the wait. Do I want to leave this place? Absolutely, Yes! But this is where God needs me right now. I don’t like it. But I’ll continue to follow Him and listen to Him. And when it is time, God will say, “You ready, Craig?” and will immediately release me from here.
I know that when I leave this place my life will feel so great that my years in prison will definitely have been worth the wait! I look forward to that day! Please pray that my file gets straightened out and I can begin my new life outside of prison!