My 33-year-old son will be released from prison in November. So I am now in the throes of trying to figure things out: where he will live, work etc. Josh is adopted and was long awaited for. He was everything I’d hoped for. Through the years, which included a very painful divorce, my heart was to protect him and to nurture all the wonderful potential he held.

He went to prison four years ago. I am thankful to say that he is coming out a changed man. It is not because of the prison system, but because while inside, he came to know Christ. He said, “What a shame it took this.” So, for that, I am grateful, but for all else, not so much.

No mother wants to go bed at night knowing her child is in prison. And for a large chunk of his time, he was in medium/maximum security prison. I couldn’t go visit very often for lack of money, but it was very difficult when I did. There was the classic clanging of doors, the metal detectors, and the guard accompaniment for everything.

I could get distracted in describing that whole experience but that isn’t the point. My point is that while he was in there, I felt I was there with him. Every horrific experience I’ve seen in the movies or reported on TV came to my mind in the darkness of night. I would seek the Lord, ask Him to please take my thoughts and calm my heart. He was faithful to do so and He has kept Josh safe thus far.

Another phenomenon I am noticing presently is, as his release gets closer, people are resenting my thoughts because I am focused on him. Forgive me, but I want to shake them. My son is in prison! Those are words I never dreamed that I’d say…not in a million years. I have pushed this reality from my mind just to deal with it. And now, at last, he is soon to be released and my heart soars.

My family has tried to be supportive, but this is a walk only Josh and I have traveled. My mama’s heart ripped wide at that first phone call, and it has never really healed. When I see him walk out, free, I will rest.

This has been a painful experience. I have been asked to join support groups with people going through what I was. I declined. I knew those individuals. Some were convinced their loved one was innocent and imprisoned falsely. Others were dedicated to weekly visitation and care packages. I, on the other hand, wanted to live in denial for a good long time. Yet once I came to accept the truth of it, I just wanted to be there for Josh. You see, I knew Josh did something that required him to go to prison. I began to write to him often…I still do. I am not embarrassed to say so. It was his actions, not mine. He is my son still and I love him.

Because of Christ, Josh is a new creation. He can leave all the rubble of his past and go forward, walking with the Lord.

In recalling my visitations with Josh I am struck by the fact that the majority of visitors are women. There were mothers, girlfriends, wives, and daughters. I feel blessed that my husband made those visits with me. You see, he has been Josh’s dad for only 7 years. I was not all alone. My heart goes out to all the women who are bearing this burden. There is a lot of shame attached to imprisonment…I know this first hand.

Today I am glad to know that, “He heals the brokenhearted

And binds up their wounds.” ~ Psalm 147:3. He has certainly done this for me and I suspect so for Josh.


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Leslie McCarthy has recently moved to Vancouver, WA and loves it. She is enjoying being farther north with the rain, geese and greenery. She is married to Renaissance Man, gifted to her from the Lord in a very special way, and that’s another story…