The Invisible Badge



Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

The golden badge flashed before our slumped, tired bodies as we neared the end of our shift. Warning the nursing staff that he, the deputy, brought the inmate I asked for to be evaluated for his suicidal ideation, his eyes scanned around until he found me sitting in front of a computer monitor in a corner.

“Thanks, deputy, for bringing him. I appreciate it.” I hollered as I knew that as the medical staff’s shift became slow at those hours, the deputies’ were just beginning again with many activities they needed to accomplish before they finished theirs.

There he was…Sitting on the last chair. His stare…blank on the cold floor and he slowly raised his what seemed to be a very heavy head to acknowledge my shadow approaching near where he was. His affect…Flat. His stare… Exhausted and glistening with tears awaiting to fall in the corners of his dark eyes. Exhausted from many a ‘sleepless nights’ and that darkness that encircled his eyes. Darkness that also extinguished the light of joy that once was dancing in his heart…

“Sorry…I had to ask the deputy to bring you here. I was concerned that you sent us a sick call request stating that you wanted to hurt  yourself. Did you write this? And if you did, do you want to hurt yourself?”

Like a scared puppy with sad eyes, he acknowledged he was the one who wrote the request. Except…it wasn’t true that he wanted to commit suicide. 

“I am depressed, Ma’am…I feel it’s getting worse…I’m sorry if I made it sound like I want to do that. I only did that because other inmates told me that was the fastest way to be seen by the Psych Doctor and to get meds if I wanted to.”

I tried not to interrupt as my suspicion was being proven to be true. That others told him to do so… The unit deputy briefly looking to where I was as he knew I had told him what I suspected about that request…

“Then…I realized…I won’t do that. I can’t. That’s their game. It’s stupid…To lie like that…Ma’am, my dad passed away and that’s why I’m feeling like this…We’re very close…I know…I won’t make him proud and that’s disrespectful to him if I listened to those inmates. They lie to get what they want…I’m sorry…”

I kept maintaining meeting his stare, avoiding to even blink so as not to miss his honesty being given. Finding the skills learned from years working with suicidal inmates and those depressed ones,  my mind was busy remembering the friends who lost loved ones and that of my own. Of losing my own father 7 years ago…To try to find a commonality to help me speak with this depressed man in front of me so I could help him see that I truly understood where he was coming from. I knew…The loss was hard to bear. Grief was a process that has no end sometimes. It could be a long duration a broken heart has to bear. Each day. Each long day. I was also looking for cues. For any sign that would help me make sure that he wouldn’t do nor plan a quick escape from this pain. That was the hardest thing to spot of all.

“Don’t apologize, Sir. I appreciate that you told me the truth behind your sick call request. The inmates were right. That was the fastest way to get attention. But they were wrong that doing so would guarantee you getting medications. Because it all depends from what the Psych doctor would want to order. Or not.”


“But you’re hurt. I could feel your depression. What you’re going through is true and very painful. And no one can say ‘You’ll be over in no time.” Because the truth is…No one knows how long grieving lasts.”

“Ma’am,” he interrupted.

“I can wait…I’ll wait for the Psych doctor to see me. I know I do need help.”

“Do you believe in God” I uttered loudly as the deputy wondered where my probing was leading to.

“I’m a Christian.”

“Do you feel like talking with a pastor would help you?” 

Silence…Then the deputy asked if he could interfere.

As I nodded, the deputy said that the inmate already asked for the Chaplain.

“I think you know, Sir what process to take. I’m glad you’re choosing to be patient and not listen to other ill advices. I’ll make sure that the mental health services will see you first thing come Monday.”

He thanked me as he tried to paint a smile on his haggard face. But no smile was ever painted by the brush of his broken heart. Tears grew as they remained ready to flow. Tears brought about by the news of losing his father who loved him dearly and the long incarceration he had to endure behind the bars.

I thanked the deputy as his golden badge glistened but quickly faded as he turned to help the inmate stand up. With his cuffed wrists, he slowly rose with heavy, drooping shoulders. His head remained looking at the floor as he took heavy steps back to his unit.

Then I saw the invisible badge. The badge that this depressed, Christian man was wearing…It spelled:

P-E-R-S-E-V-E-R-A-N-C-E…

Satan’s arrows crippled this man bad or so it seemed for now…And I prayed…

For that Christian inmate…For God to help him draw his shield close…His shield of faith…Close to his spirit. Faith that would help him cry out unto God of Armor…So that he would be able to endure…Up to the end…And have His “joy” reclaim the lost areas in his heart that was lost to Satan’s arrows…

Grace



I wanted to get upset…As this female inmate gasped for breath in front of me. Complaining of “difficulty breathing and almost like a chest pain”, she described. She wouldn’t stop talking about how she didn’t deserve to be imprisoned. My advices to help her calm down were just going out her other ear.

“Okay…Stop talking! Take a deep breath!”

“My husband…and his mistress…” she paused as she labored to bring in some puffs of air into her lungs.

“Stop! I said! Just try to relax, Ma’am…”

She tried…But I could sense the heaviness of her heart…Of her heart that didn’t want to cease from contemplating how much she never deserved to be behind the bars. Her other worries that only herself knew of what transpired from the past and what perhaps were coming ahead. 

I was only helping the other nurse who initially treated her. The nurse didn’t want to give an inhaler when this inmate thought that it might help her. She had clear lung sounds. But deep inside, there was no inhaler that could ever help with the labored breathing provoked by an anxiety attack.

“Will it be okay if I issue her an inhaler anyway? It might help her calm down…”

“Go ahead…” the other nurse conceded.

Her shaking fingers could barely push down the inhaler to dispense the medication that she thought could loosen her tight lungs. She managed to utter “Thank you nurses” despite the anger that still had a tight grip on her heart and mind. As she managed to get 2 puffs from the inhaler, she gathered the little air she acquired and started voicing out her complaints against her husband again.

“Stop talking!” commanded the 2 deputies nearby. 

She just wouldn’t listen. I wanted to get upset myself knowing that no one could help her. No one… But herself!

Then…I was reminded…of her position. Angry about circumstances that I knew were so unfair. Like what the people from higher positions did to me. Demoted me and didn’t give me a reasonable accommodation for a specific request. The government agency that was supposed to help never investigated and never did what they were supposed to do…To help out those discriminated against in a workplace…I knew it was unfair. And I felt helpless. After exhausting a lot of process. 

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble." (James 4:6, NIV)

“Breathe!!! Relax!”

I remember those inner, familiar Voices that comforted me the whole time.  And in those painful seasons of my life, His Word became my guidance that spoke nothing but truth. That because of His grace, I would be okay. Despite this place being opposed to His values. He taught me to be patient and try to relax because as I learned (and still continue to learn) patience, eternity would be the one that would correct all the wrongs I suffered from. Nothing…Nothing could ever calm a weary soul than His grace. There is no room for despair, worries, anxieties or fears, nor injustices…Because the best always comes last to a tried Christian…That it’s just right to always say… “Thank You Lord!”

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philemon 1:25, NLT)

Sadness No More...(When I Think About My Mother)



I found this “reflection” I wrote about my mother on June 1, 2002. She passed away on December 2000. I’m only sharing parts of it:

I can’t understand why all of a sudden, a gnawing feeling of depression is eating my heart. My mother has passed away 2 years ago. Going on 3. When she passed away, I felt some strength at that time despite her unexpected demise. It was one of the weaknesses and hard blows that came to her loved ones, especially me. That strength emanated from the faith she instilled in me. The same faith that guided me whenever I successfully faced my own trials. Faith that I always cling to even if my life turns upside down or helps me dangle at the end of the rope. I have to remember this faith in God because I don’t want to fall into an abyss of despair. I always believe that we create our own triumphs and losses depending on what we choose to walk on in this life’s journey that we all take. I try not to be a pessimist, no matter how strong the urge can be whenever I remember my mother with so much longing. I’m keeping that faith because my mother taught me that during my growing-up years.

There are days when I feel like a child day dreaming…Pretending and making wishes for a world that will bring my mother back to me. In that world, I can be a magician with a wand and with a loud “Open Sesame!”…”Poof!!!” Then…there is my mother!!! In front of me…

But…her image is like a mirage in a vast desert. It fades like a haze in the breaking of dawn when the sun spreads its rays. I see her in my dream that disappears as I open my eyes and wake up to reality.

But having her back is a difficult wish to come true! We all live a short life in this place. Maybe our deaths are not the ending but the beginning of greater tasks ahead. We have a lot of lessons to learn while we are here…Like loving unconditionally and being strong during the times of storms in our lives. In order for us to make it to the other side…

Every time I sit down and ponder on many warm memories that my mother shared with us, I can’t help but let the tears flow. But whenever I feel that the pain is searing in my heart and feel that eternal void, a feeling of enlightenment sweeps over me instead. It feels like a warm shawl that burns away the chilly nights. It feels like the warm sun that fights its way out through those thick clouds. It feels like the warm, soft lunar glow on those dark skies at nights. It feels like my mother’s hugs whenever I want that kind of soothing comfort that only comes from her. A food to my hungry soul.

Just now, I came to realize that I shouldn’t subject myself to being lonely and depressed. I should stop asking for things that needed to end- her life’s cycle that was completed. God gave us our lives and He has the right to take them back. 

That’s where the magic lies…We need to discover the purposes of our lives. That is the miracle! To find the true Source of strength and go out and make a difference in this world. This is the kind of wish that can come true! A magic that doesn’t need a prop or a wand…A miracle that starts when we let go of our own selfishness. I’m sure your mother like mine, if she is not here anymore, had passed on their love to us. That’s why we cry so much and feel such tremendous losses. Because they knew how to love and cared for us.And towards others...

I’m asking God to give me more days before I go Home myself. In the meantime, I can reminisce those loving memories of my mother without the bitterness I once nursed. I should celebrate her passing with joys and happiness because she truly shared her wonderful love and I am proud of that miracle she gave to us, her family.

In the meantime, I see many miracles I try not to take for granted. The acts of kindness from people who surround me, be it family or friends. A warm hello from a stranger in the streets…At work, whenever an inmate sincerely utter their “thanks” and shows the appreciation from compassion shown…My son’s hugs and kisses and “I love you’s”, not only to me but when he blows those kisses up in the air to send them to God and to his “lola” (grandmother)…My husband’s understanding and great love that parallels mine…I know…

There is no reason to be sad. Because God is always there to watch us perform our own miracles and that His blessings are always bountiful!

Today is Mother’s Day and I remember my mother with happiness and gladness knowing she is in a better place…I remember, lots of people from back home often would tell me how much I looked like my mother. The resemblance.. so much! I was thrilled…Every time…Deep inside, I also hope that my love will always reflect that of the Savior’s…He is the Source of my joy!

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you, mothers out there!!! God bless…


Back To Work



I don’t even know how to start…

“Do I recall my passwords even?” That was the question that started bugging me. As I haven’t gone to work for a little over a month. Nursing my right knee that I had accidentally injured. Though without so much pain, the swelling took a longer course to exit.

But…

Come Friday night, yes, I am going back to work. The Supervisor had already confirmed with me the other night that I was scheduled this Friday to work with them. But for some reason, I wasn’t as excited as I used to be. I think I was more of tired of all injustices and wrongs I had seen, heard and even had gone through myself. 

I do miss some people I work with. Those who work hard. Those who are truly concern when someone is going through a tough time. I have not forgotten them. 

Jesus’ prayer echoes in my heart:

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.(John 17:15)

It was clear, He prayed for His disciples not to be taken out of this place. But for the Father to keep them safe, be kept away from sinning and strengthened for each one’s duty.

Though I'm not excited, I need to go back to a dark place. The prison...Surrounded by thick walls. Light barely going in through those tiny windows in each tiny cells. With inmates busy planning evil things. Yet, others go through  a major transformations inside their hearts, be it good or bad. 

My knees might be weaker but He is strengthening me. To go back and continue what He started there for me. I know that it will not be easy when the thick, heavy metal sliding doors open up for me. I know…

I’ll be ready no matter what comes my way…Because this work is not for my glory. It is His. 

Our purposes may differ. But we all have the same important goals for our Lord Jesus. That is… to follow in His footsteps and not seek the objects men want in this place. 

And I pray…that may His light shine through me as I go back to work this Friday…So people can see my changed heart because of what Jesus did for me. Because not all things are earned…

Only one was already done…And given freely… Because God loves us all…

It is His gift…

Grace…

All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.



Encouragers

The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]


Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.


Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.


All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.


When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.


The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.


When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.


[Source: Life Application Bible]:


We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.


“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14


Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].


Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.


Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.


Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].

Friends