“Are you READY?”
“They’re Coming Home”
Re-Entry Handbook For The Family...
My Heart’s cry as I begin this book… “Search me Lord and see if there be any unclear thing in me. Create in me a clean heart and renew in me a right Spirit. Order My Steps Dear Lord as I write these words to my friend. Guide my words, thoughts, motives and actions as I begin this journey with the one reading this book written under your inspiration. Allow me to be a conduit for your thoughts, words & your agape Love as I express your desires for each person that reads these books. Thank you Lord for allowing me to be a part of something so important. A labor of Love in a mission field that others may never know, led by the word of God that says in Hebrews 13:3 3Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. My Lord, I thank you.”
First, let me introduce myself. I am Your Sister Soldier & please know that I will be fighting for you in the Spirit through this journey we are about to begin. My name is Mrs. Shawna Sheffield, wife of Pastor Marvin Sheffield and mother to many. I want you to know that I am here for you. The words that come to you in this book are from my heart, inspired by the Holy Ghost, because not only do I want you & your loved one being released from incarceration to succeed, but God wants you both to succeed as well in breaking the cycle of recidivism in their life. This book will be based on both Biblical and actual life experience. It is meant to not only help your loved one safely and successfully transition back into society, but also to help then & you reach your life goals & grow spiritually. Every man and woman in prison that truly seeks to succeed comes out with a list of goals that they have had in their minds since they began their journey behind bars. As their family members and loved one we can help them reach these goals but at times our love gets in the way and can actually become a hindrance to their progress without us even realizing it. I have been called by God not only to write this handbook but also to be a guide and will be here for you through this new chapter of your lives, to ensure that you are able to be a true help and that you can grow past the hurt and pain caused by this time of incarceration in your loved one’s life as well as yours. Yes, I said your life as well. I can speak from experience that having a loved one in prison or jail is very hurtful to their family. Acknowledging that pain and disappointment is vital to your healing as well as theirs. However, it can also become a hinderance to your loved one if not handled correctly. That is why I am here. I want to help you address that pain, acknowledge it and let it go. Forgiving someone doesn’t make them right, it sets you free. Even if the person that needs forgiveness is you. So, with that being said, let's get started.
My first questions to you is: "Are you READY for change?" "Are you READY to help your loved one reach their goals and succeed in their new life?" “Are you READY to grow Spiritually and have a closer walk with your loved one and Our Lord Jesus?” Was your answer YES? Ok then, let's look at truly being READY.
Realize they are Scared & Anxious
Evaluate the signs… watch their actions
Acknowledge they need time to adjust
Determine how you can help
Yield to God’s will for your life & their life. Be a help not a hinderance
Now, I ask you again... "Are you READY?" Don't worry ... if your answer is “I'm not sure” or “No” this time, don’t worry. We are going to get READY together. Here we go...
Realize they are Scared & Anxious
As your loved one is released they are most likely going to come out of incarceration excited. Or to the natural eye that is how it may seem. Of course, they are excited to be “free” from incarceration and they are excited to see their loved ones and family, however, a lot of times this excitement that we see on the outside is actually covering the fear and anxiety of several things. Let’s explore some of these things a little deeper.
The first thing to keep in mind is they have a fear that was instilled in them during their time of incarceration due to their surroundings and being under the rule of the correctional officers. They lived in constant danger. This makes a person’s mind set become very “aware” of their surroundings and the people in it to the point of paranoia. In some individuals this has gone to a deeper extreme than just paranoia and has developed into PTSD. For those that do not understand what PTSD is here is the definition.
PTSD = Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is an anxiety disorder. It can occur after you have gone through an extreme emotional trauma that involved the threat of injury or death. It can occur after a traumatic event like war, battle, assault or disaster.
Most times we associate PTSD with our military service men and women, however, this can, and most times does apply to our men and women that are coming our of incarceration as well. When men and women are in the armed service they go from their normal life into a very intense situation of battle. Their bodies go through trauma and their minds can’t quite wrap around some of the things they see & have to do. Their heart tells them to fight harder because they are protecting their loved ones & they feel that their victories are not just for themselves but for everyone they are fighting to protect, but when the battle is done & they attempt to go back to their prior lives, they never seem to “fit” again. Their family & friends expect them to go back to life as usual & at times get upset with them and even reject them because they can’t. The family and friends don’t understand that their thought pattern is different, and their heart is different. Their outlook on life & other people is different. Their hate for the enemy and evil that threatens the ones they are called to protect is greater than ever & has become a part of them, so when they return home & everyone expects them to be their “old self” they try but they never feel satisfied with just “normal” life ever again. Business as usual doesn’t work for them anymore. A part of them is always on the lookout, always aware of the enemy. They can feel when evil is around. They are forever a warrior on guard to protect the ones they are called to protect & fight the evil among us. Once they are called & set aside as a warrior, these few, special, select men & women are always warriors. Their life, heart, mind, emotions & outlooks are never the same.
Our Men and Women that are coming out of incarceration go through this as well. People who have been in bondage for years don’t know how to be free, so even when they are released, mentally they remain in captivity because that’s all they know. It’s like a bird that has been raised in a cage all its life, even when the door to the cage is open & it is free it won’t hop out and fly away because the cage is all it knows. It is gripped by fear of the unknown. A similar situation is found in the prison system. When you see kids that get caught up in the juvenile detention system, if they are there for a long period of time they become accustomed to that life style and their mindset changes about themselves & life. The devil then brings in the spirit of fear & defeat. They become depressed & get caught in a cycle. They are in bondage in their minds thinking they have ruined their lives & they give up. Eventually they end up making more mistakes if they don’t have someone there for them to help them turn things around. Then these mistakes land them in prison. If they are in the prison system for any length of time they become accustomed to that life style. They have all freedoms taken from them. They are told when to eat, where to go, when to take a bath, when to sleep. They are restricted from moving around freely. After a while they learn to adapt to being told what to do every day, all day & the prison mentality of doing what it takes to survive takes over. They go about their day & find a survival existence in the system. Their bodies and minds are in bondage. In prison they are faced with Physical bondage which is the obvious situation of being in prison, but they also face Mental bondage. This is a tactic that Correctional officers and even other inmates use to gain control of others. Mental bondage most times goes unrecognized because others do not even realize it is there. This type of bondage is unseen to the naked eye. This is where prayer and discerning of spirits comes in. We must take the time to monitor our loved ones after they are released to discern where they are not just physically but mentally and emotionally. Especially If they are incarcerated for a long period of time. If they are there long enough this type of bondage life becomes the only way to live that they know. They don’t even realize when it happens, but it changes who they are & it becomes part of them. They get stuck in the mode of thinking like a prisoner & even when they are released most are never able to go back into normal society because the bondage of prison has attacked & affected them to the core of their being. It changes their outlook on everything. They lose the sense of freedom of even the most basic foundational things of life like boundaries within normal relationships. This is where we come in. We must be aware of what they are facing and be aware that even though they want to come home and do right and reach their goals, they are faced daily with fears and anxiety. We must keep in mind that the voices they hear in their mind that they have heard for years during their time of incarceration will not go away overnight. They have been told for their entire period of incarceration that they are nothing and will never become anything. They have been demoralized and beaten down mentally, emotionally, spiritually and at times even physically. They will need time to get these voices and memories in check. We can help them do this but at times it will not be easy. PTSD is not an easy thing to deal with. Eventually, they may need to see a doctor but do not push this issue. As a matter of fact, don’t push any issue on them right away. Just observe and allow them to open up slowly. Think of is this way. When you peal an onion back it opens in layers. If you cut straight through to the core and open it you end up crying, but it you run water over it and take your time pealing it and open it up slowly, there may be tears, but it won’t be as bad. So, as they open up, let it happen at their pace. Let them know you are there, and just slowly pour the living water of Jesus over them in prayer and love. Don’t crowd them. Read the signs and let them know you love them but also gage the space they need to adjust to their new environment. Remember, whether they say it or not, they are overwhelmed. They will allow you to hug them and love on them and even may endure a party but know that inside they are scared and need time to adjust to even being physically touched. They are not used to physical contact in a positive way. Everything is “new” to them again. They are even scared to move in the house without permission. Daily things we take for granted, they are terrified to do without permission. So be patient and observe them. The best help you can give them at times is space. Let them ease back into “life”. This is the best support we can give at times. Also, just as I told them in the book I gave them, keep a journal of your journey. Make notes of what you see so you can adjust your life to better help them. If you notice a cringe when you touch them, don’t be upset. It is not you. They just have to get used to being touched again. That’s all. If you notice they don’t like loud noises, then adjust. They just have to get used to it again. Trust me. Before too long you will be saying, “hey can you turn the TV down a little please?” 😊 Just wait on it. It will come. We will look a little more into this as the chapters go on. Take sometimes to yourself as well during this process of adjustment. It will not be easy every day. So, make time to pray and meditate to clear your head and write daily about your feelings as well. This will help you release what you are dealing with and be a bigger help to your loved one. I will be praying for you as you go through this process and my contact info is at the end of the book if you ever have questions. I will be here. So now let’s move forwards and look a little deeper into our upcoming journey. First, let’s capture what we feel today.