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Locked Up

MP900432843As part of a prayer team for a prison ministry, I signed up to pray for a half hour last Friday.

As I thought about people in prison, I remembered years ago going with a friend to visit her son in prison. I remembered the uncomfortable feeling of being checked through all the various stations before being allowed to enter the visiting area where family and friends could visit with loved ones. I no longer felt I had any control over my life.

As I thought about the men and women incarcerated with long prison sentences, I reflected on all the freedoms we take for granted every day that are taken away from us when we enter prison.

In prison you are not free to come and go as you wish, you cannot choose what you will eat, you cannot choose the clothes you would like to wear or how you to decorate your “living” space. You lose your privacy, your sense of personal safety and security, your dignity and self respect. Rules for everything are governed by the laws of the prison and the laws of other inmates.

As I thought and prayed during that half hour, I was struck by the thought of how often we imprison ourselves with unrealistic fears and anxieties, cares and worries.

We imprison ourselves when we choose to see only the worst and never balance it with the good. We imprison ourselves when we spend more time blaming others, remaining a victim instead of meeting life’s struggles head on. We imprison ourselves when we continue to maintain a sense of powerlessness and lack of worth.

We can choose to look at life as an opportunity even in the worst scenarios. We can choose to believe the sun still shines even when it is pouring rain. We can choose to believe there is always something good we can accomplish each day. We can choose to replace negative thinking with statements of hope and trust and belief.

We hold the key to our own personal prison cells. Sometimes it feels safer remaining locked up behind our walls of fear instead of stepping out, challenging old lifestyles and ways of thinking, and healing old wounds.

But in the process we are giving up who we were meant to be. Only when we face our fears head on will we be free from their imprisonment.

©2013 Marlene Anderson

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