Judge Tom Parker
Written By:
Tears | March 5th, 2013


TearsThese tears were real.  Sometimes they are not.  But as the handcuffed hands reached together to take another Kleenex, the tears would not stop rolling down her cheeks.

Tissues can dry up phony tears, but they cannot stop the flow of real ones.

This thirty-four year old woman made a simple request: “I just want to be done with this.  It would be easier for me if you just sent me to prison.”

“How would that make things easier?” I asked. I don’t normally send people with low level, non-violent felonies to prison.  It is not favored in the law and rarely produces the behavioral change we all desire.

“I wouldn’t have to keep coming back to court for violating my probation.  Judge, I’m tired, and I just want to be done with all this,” she said again.

There was something about her that made me probe deeper.  “Do you have kids?  Are your mom and dad still alive?”

“My kids have been taken from me.  And I don’t get to see my parents anymore because of my lifestyle.”

“What about your lifestyle?”

“My drug use.  My running around,” she confessed, eyes brimming with tears.

She was utterly hopeless.  The foundations of her life – bedrock things for most of us – were as loose as sand.  What would her life be like at fifty-four?  Would she even make it that far?  What could be done?

“Let me tell you something,” I said.  “You are far too valuable to just give up at age thirty-four.  You were created to be someone; to do something.  And that something does not include giving up on life.  How have you been supporting yourself?”  The tears rolled non-stop as she held my gaze in silence.   She had no means of support and had not yet graduated from high school.  She had good reason for her despair.

“Let me ask you something,” I continued.  “If you could do anything at all for a living and didn’t think about your ‘failures’ so far, what would you do?”

“I think I’d like to be a carpenter.”

You could have knocked me over with a feather.  “A carpenter?  Why?” I asked.

“I think it would be fun.”

The tears stopped and a sheepish grin began to spread across her face.  In a moment of hope, her entire appearance was transformed.  Could she actually learn to be a carpenter?   Would anyone hire her, with her criminal history?  I found myself wondering when the last time was she had thought of something that she wanted to do just because it would be fun.  And when was the last time anyone had believed in her so that she could have a moment of hope?

Jesus, the carpenter, said the second greatest commandment is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”   And he told us that the one who shows mercy when others would give in to revulsion is the one who “proved” himself to be a neighbor.

Can you see yourself as a neighbor to the woman who stood before me?  Would you prove it by making her your apprentice and then hiring her?  Do you see the irony?  She wants to be a carpenter!

  • Stefany Noble

    What a great real life story! Thank you for sharing. Everyone deserve a second chance. We should extend God’s grace to others.

  • http://www.facebook.com/robert.pari.75 Robert Pari

    Thanks Tom, I’ve been to prison, I am a carpenter, and I was thirty four with no hope when it all changed. This story reflects my own life and I never would have thought the heart and soul behind the bench could care more or less about my future. Keep up the good work… your friend, Chaplain Bob.

    • TParker3neo

      Maybe you know someone who could assist the person I wrote about with an apprenticeship?

      • http://www.facebook.com/robert.pari.75 Robert Pari

        I’m presently in S. Florida on a special assignment, and will be back in May. I,m also kind of a cowboy when it comes to carpentry, or anything else for that matter, and do my own thing. I pray for work, by word of mouth, and referral. It’s all ministry to me. I don’t have any professional connections in the trades, just customers. This is a special case, apprenticeship/discipleship, and would require a solid sister in Christ being involved. Apprenticeship usually comes thru corporate and union companies documenting hours and going to classes and a variety of areas of carpentry, in order to become a “journeyman carpenter”. My Pastors son is presently going thru apprenticeship. I’ll ask. I do, however, have tools, surplus tools. Lots of them, and definately come alongside you in praying for this woman. ttyl

  • Linda Jones

    Thank you for this real life story, Judge Tom. Hope and Mercy are powerful and they transform the lives of those who embrace them.

  • darleen grimsley

    My son is in that same position. Trying to become something in his life. He just needs a chance to prove himself and not give up because he thinks everyone is against him because of his crimnal record. Well some of it is his own attitude to. But once your in prison you become harden to what the world brings you. You have seen and done it. The justice system does nothing to supply them for outside. I realize you have to make the choice to overcome those barriers. It is all what you decide you are going to put into the change. For some it does not come easy. So. I believe there should be more in the prison system to help them get back to life afterwards. Some will get some won’t. We just have to pray and pray that they will allow god to be a part of there lives. Let god be god. Keep praying for gods will to run there lives. Amaen

  • tom scott

    I am so blessed, i am that person myself. I just didnt get caught. Im glad my boss is a carpenter. He took this broken up pile of scrap and built a miracle. She can be rebuilt also.

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