I can still clearly remember the day I got arrested. It was a cold snowy day in Wisconsin, some 64 months ago. It is a day that will be engraved into my mind for the rest of my life. If the government could have used my arrest as a scare tactic to never commit a crime or violation again, it surely worked.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way, and jail and/or prison are the consequence of specific crimes. Walking into Racine County Jail with handcuffs on was the most scared I’ve ever been in my life. Without having known a single individual that has ever been to jail or prison before, I had no clue what to expect. All I knew was what I had seen on television.
After I was fingerprinted and filled out a few forms, I was escorted to a holding cell. “Here we go,” I thought to myself, “the scary part begins.” It was time to interact with the others that were arrested that day. Standing outside the twelve person holding tank that realistically only held eight people, 22 eyes were on me. I could only imagine what was going through their minds at this point. I’m “fresh meat” to them is all I could think of at the time.
As the door was unlocked and opened, I slowly made my way in. I looked around and noticed I was the only white guy among the other eleven, all supporting sleeves of tattoos up and down their bodies. Miraculously, another man scooted over and let me have a seat, while all eyes continued to stare at me in silence. I politely said thank you, sat down on the rock hard slab of concrete, and stared at the floor without making a sound.
It felt like hours before anyone said anything. Were the others planning an attack on me, I wondered. Finally, after only a few seconds of silence and observation, everyone continued talking again. I let out a sigh, closed my eyes, and prayed. I’m not sure what I prayed for right then and there, but I have a feeling it had to do with my safety.
A few questions were asked to me the first hour I was in there, but for the most part I kept to myself. The concrete bench definitely was not comfortable, and my butt kept falling asleep. My legs were cramping, too. All I wanted to do was stretch out, but there was no room, even to stand. So I just did my best to suck it up and pray I would be moved soon.
The conversations that took place hardly interested me, except one – the NBA. As I listened to the jibber-jabber, keeping to myself, I laughed silently at the comments I heard. But while staring at the ground in a daze, all of a sudden I head, “Hey, white boy! Who do like in the NBA this year?” It took a few seconds for it to register in my mind that they were actually talking to me. I looked up at the individual in a stare. He kind of chuckled but repeated the question. With me being a fantasy stat guru and because my love for basketball was pretty high, I answered his question with ease, backing it up with a few stats of my own. After answering, the cell was completely silent. Then at once they all started laughing. The man who asked me the question immediately says, “Man, white boy knows his stuff.” Of course, more explicit words were used. But with one small comment, I earned respect from everyone.
The tension was finally released after hours of wait time. I talked a little more after that. The others definitely valued my opinion, too. I survived the four hour ordeal in the holding tank before being moved into an individual cell.
At the time, I didn’t know how many more scary and uncomfortable moments like this I would have to endure. But as I write this, many more were in my future. Entering a prison or a jail is the hardest thing I’ll ever do. There are just too many unknowns, especially being surrounded by hardened, crazy, criminals that I do not know. And sometimes it can take awhile to earn that respect. With stories I’ve heard and things I’ve seen, anything…..ANYTHING…..can happen. It is just not a great situation for anyone to go through. One’s life is always at stake. Nervousness, worries, scariness, and uncomfortable are just a few emotions that go through me during those times. I have never prayed so much in my life. Time and time again, God has delivered me from danger, into His loving arms of safety.
What kind of uncomfortable and scary moments have you ever been through? Starting a new job, going off to war, sitting in front of a doctor waiting for bad news, or maybe even sharing God’s Word to an unbeliever? I know here in prison being a witness for God is a very hard thing to do. The unsuccessful rate of getting through to another inmate is very high. I can only imagine what missionaries must go through and endure in order to bring the Good News to remote areas of the world.
And what I can’t imagine is how scared Jesus must have felt, knowing the pain and torture He would go through before His final breath as a man on earth. These days when I go through a situation that is scary and uncomfortable, I now think of the suffering that Jesus endured. And it was all for me. If He can do what He did for me, as a man, I know I can go through these tough, scary, and uncomfortable times in my life. And I know you can too, especially with God being by our side every step of the way.