So yesterday afternoon I was preaching my heart out at the jail, and, as I often do, trying to help the men get in touch with their emotions. The emotional health of the groups as a whole is very, very low.
The one emotion they all can name is … ANGER. We discussed this and it quickly became obvious anger was the cover for lots of other emotions they are feeling …
One guy said, "Pastor, it's so hard to be emotionally healthy when you are incarcerated. You never know who has your back so it's difficult to say what you feel."
Near the end of the service one man said, "Please pray for me. I go before the judge tomorrow, and I'm facing hard time. And in case you're wondering, I am feeling scared, abandoned by my family and friends, resigned and ashamed of my behavior. Oh, I am feeling joy, too. There's part of me that believes God is going to work this whole mess out for the best, and that makes me feel joy."
I said, "Dude, I don't know what is going to happen tomorrow in court, and I am really sorry you're feeling so much pain right now, but you're on the way to being emotionally healthy."
"See this guys," I said looking at the whole room of men. " This is what I am talking about. I want you go back and think about what you're feeling. Because if you can find and name your emotions, you'll discover that you're more in touch with who you are as a person and you'll find it easier to pray to God."
I ended, as I always do, by praying for the men. One guy wept like a baby while I prayed. He hugged me as he left and said, "Man, I've made so many stupid decisions. I'm not stupid, but that's about the only emotion I felt the whole time you were talking. I just felt stupid."