Loving Without Conditions

Talked to my brother last night and this morning. Our conversations lasted about 10 minutes, with the automated woman’s voice interrupting every few minutes stating that I’m talking to an inmate and the conversation could be recorded. There’s no getting away from the fact that my brother is in prison.

I send him money every month through something called JPay – where you can send money online to inmates. I discovered you can also send letters and pictures through this system. It’s almost like I am emailing my brother, except its not, he isn’t on the outside, this isn’t his private email, this is a system set up for the loved ones of inmates to be able to communicate with them through letters and pictures.

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I watched Dateline NBC Friday evening, it was about a wrongly convicted man who had spent nearly 20 years behind bars. The show followed the process of fighting for his freedom, the ups and downs of that process, and finally the release of him into freedom.

I cried throughout it. I cried because this will never be my  brother. He’s in for life. We don’t have the hope of an early release. We don’t have the hope of parole. And we don’t have the hope of his conviction being overturned because, well, he committed the crime he was convicted of.

307335_2296909018719_2105896780_nThe man experienced a cell phone for the first time, and got emotional laying on a comfortable bed. I think of my brother and how he talks of missing carpet under his feet, and driving a car, and fast food.

Sure, he’s there for a reason. And yes, he deserves punishment for his crime. But, the fact remains, he is human, he is loved by his family, and we want only the best for him. Prison isn’t the best. This isn’t what God had planned for his life. And it breaks our hearts to see him suffer the way he does, miss out on life the way he does, and miss out on so much of our lives, too.

I love my brother unconditionally. He committed the ultimate crime. I stood by him from day one. Yes, he has a mental illness – a serious mental illness – that contributed to the crime that early Saturday morning so long ago, but even if he wasn’t mentally ill, I would still stand by him because that is what true unconditional love does. You may not approve of what the person did, or how they live their lives, or whatever, but you give them grace and love no matter what. You love them like Christ loves them.

I love my brother like God loves my brother. And miss him like crazy!

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The end of a conversation with my brother about a year ago. I recorded it with my cell phone so I could listen to his voice and his I love you whenever I wanted to.

 

 

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