“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV)
“How can such a beautiful place look so good outside and deep inside is dark and scary?” that thought lingered as I drove away from my scheduled interview 11 years ago.
“Do you have any question?” the interviewing Nurse Manager asked me.
“Your place looks so nice with the palm trees around and green lawn and beautiful flowers all over. But coming from the hospital, I haven’t truly been in, in any prison kind of work so I want to see how it’s like inside, if I may?”
“Oh…”with a surprised look she says, “No one had ever requested that. That was a good thing to ask. Some of the nurses who had come here for job interviews were so confident and was so positive at first, then after just working a few days, turned out they all wanted to quit.”
My request was granted. Someone from the Infirmary downstairs had volunteered to give me that tour in that precious few minutes of break she had amidst the mountain of paper works she dealt with daily. I immediately felt suffocated as we both descended downstairs that led to the prison units, including the Clinic and other offices vital to the prison’s needs. She brought me to Intake where heavy metal doors were slammed shut as different arrestees from all walks of life arrived and were to be processed. Funny smell arose from bodies reeking with alcohol and other unknown substances. The more the air became stale.
Sick inmates were lined up, some being yelled at for losing patience, as they waited to be called, one by one, to be seen by either nurses or the jail doctor. I saw darkness amidst the fluorescent light illuminating the whole facility. It felt being buried down there. It was suffocating, as if we were deprived of fresh air to breathe. The mixture of silence and noises at times were deafening.
“Thank you,” I told the Nurse Manager after my brief tour.
“I didn’t expect what to see but I think I will try to learn whatever I need to learn in your facility and just give my best.”
“No, thank you!”
“You had given me that idea to give applicants a chance to see this place and what truly goes on here, day after day.”
I took a deep breath as I hungered for a fresher air as I step a little lower on my gas pedal. Looking at the rear view mirror, I saw the palm trees dancing with the wind. The tan paint coated the outside walls and made the building appeared clean. The grass appeared greener as the sun's rays shone on them. I smiled as I saw some of the sunlight penetrated those tiny windows in the tiny cells. I knew I would be okay to work in that place.
We all face a war that rages deep inside ourselves daily. It is the war to make the decisions, whether good or bad, we need to choose. We are all flawed. We all have imperfections. We all can choose to see the “best” amidst all these imperfections. We can choose to see the “good” out of the “bad.” The way God sees humanity. He knows all of our imperfections and because of love as His nature, He chooses to give us the best despite our flawed nature. Sometimes, no one knows....It is in those flaws and little blessings that may turn out to be the biggest in someone's journey.