As a young wife, I often see pictures of others' elaborate weddings and exotic honeymoons, but I reminisce about a cement-walled hallway. I hear people talk about being blessed with great children, and I have none. I listen to stories of romantic evenings watching sunsets and mornings with breakfast in bed, while I dream of an extra kiss stolen in secret. I see couples who own big houses and expensive cars; I do well to live paycheck to paycheck. How can I possibly have a good life when I lack so much that other young wives have? Does life have a silver lining when your husband is locked in prison, serving a life sentence for the murder of his drug dealer?
If you let it, joy can slip through your grasp in the twinkling of an eye, especially when your life goes down a path exactly opposite the one you expected and planned for yourself. When I was a girl I dreamed of a handsome prince, a stellar job, and model children. I just knew I would have that "good life" so many others have talked about and longed for. Little did I know I would end up with a great life without so much of what people traditionally think the good life requires.
When I was 20, I moved to Florida to work as a youth leader for the summer, living with a man and wife whose children were both grown and out of the house, the son making his home in a prison cell. At the time my thoughts and energy were consumed with leading the youth ministry, but something tugged at my heart with every mention of my host family's son, David. I began writing to this man in prison after my hostess, his mother, told me how much he loved to receive mail. As a college student away from home myself, I understood the sheer exhilaration of opening the mailbox to find any kind of written connection to home. Plus, the Bible says we are to remember and reach out to prisoners, so why not?1