By Natasha Marie
Nothing is more fervent than a mother’s love! It hopes against hopelessness and boldly dares to dream in spite of despair. When her son falls, a mom is always there to pick him up and dust off his every bruise. As he develops and matures, that same mom still is there to protect, defend, encourage and inspire! No amount of bad news can keep a mom from having high expectations for her son and praying that his future is bright. A mother never ceases to believe in the best for her son. Regardless of the circumstances, she is full of optimism. But even the best mother cannot shield her son from the severe consequences of a bad split-second decision; a decision that has the potential to shatter every lifelong goal and dream on a moment’s notice.
Lynda Jones is the epitome of a mom with hopes and dreams for her sons’ future. Like any other mother, she and her husband, James, raised three beautiful children in the admonition of the Lord. She provided a value system with morals and standards to shape their beliefs and solid Christian principles upon which she built her home. It was customary for her to attend church with her children while they were growing up. This was not a household where the parents were missing in action. She and James were vital contributors, pouring their efforts into the lives of their children. Jaylynn, Joshua and Josiah were properly cared for. Like most families, they had challenges, and life wasn’t perfect, but their household was rich in love and filled with faith.
As a matter of fact, her middle son was quite serious about his faith. As a child growing up, Lynda describes him as a boy with a huge heart full of compassion. He was always looking for ways to help anyone in need. Mrs. Jones goes on to explain that as a child, Joshua was a very tender hearted young man who found great fulfillment in helping others in distress.
“I always believed that Joshua would use his life to serve the Lord. He was (and still is) a leader, with a giving spirit and a servant’s heart. I often refer to him as a gentle giant,” said Lynda. All of her children were musically inclined and it’s likely they inherited this trait from their father, a gifted musician. Joshua loved to play the drums and was interested in the music industry. At one point, he was preparing to enroll in a top notch school to pursue audio engineering when everything changed.
As he grew older, this helpful, kind-hearted boy began to evolve into an angry middle child. He wasn’t the oldest, and he wasn’t the youngest; he was the sibling right in the middle. Perhaps if you’ve not been in this situation, it may be difficult to understand the frustrations of a middle child. It was impossible for even his closest family members to know exactly what Joshua may have been dealing with emotionally. Somehow, he progressed to a point where he was inwardly unsettled; a condition that even loving parents cannot always detect or diagnose. As most young Black men are prone to do, he bottled his emotions up and chose to keep his feelings to himself. Gradually, those emotions began to fester, and one day, a split second decision was made that put Joshua at the scene of a crime.
In order to protect the family’s privacy, the details of his conviction have been intentionally omitted, but Lynda’s son now is serving a 20-year sentence. When I asked what she wants the world to know about Joshua, she said, “That my son is not a monster!”
Often times, as mothers, we wonder if there is something we should have done differently, but Lynda stated, “Children don’t come with a manual. You just do the best you can with what you have.” She recalled times she possibly could have been more strict or maybe could have dealt more harshly with him. Thinking out loud, she said, “I have regrets, but the only thing I’m guilty of is loving my son. What I have learned though, is that tough love is the best love.”
I asked Lynda what her greatest fear is for her son right now. She responded, “My faith in the Lord allows me to not focus on my fears because I just believe he is called to do great things. I believe this situation is the avenue to get him to that place.”
She went on to explain, however, that when he comes out of prison, she is deeply concerned that he may be rejected by society for one horrible mistake he made. Lynda fears that even after being remorseful and serving his time, he still may be shunned by society for his past actions. She is concerned about his opportunities for employment and how he will get beyond this and make the transition back into society.
Her Pastor declared through a prophetic Word in church one day that Joshua would be granted an early release. The Jones family remains positive as they hold on to that Word, as well as the hope and dream that all is not lost; Joshua’s life still has purpose!
This young man has chosen to work as a tutor, helping other inmates learn how to read. He was reminded of how ashamed students felt in school when they were called upon in class to read but were unable to do so. He has chosen to not only work while in prison but to use his skill and intellect in a way that promotes rehabilitation for himself while helping to eradicate illiteracy in others. Through programs and deep conversation, as well as anger management, he is a representation of the fact that a percentage of inmates are successfully rehabilitated in jail. He made a mistake that cost him everything, but he is remorseful and definitely a better man today than he was when he began his sentence.
Statistics have shown that inmates who take up a trade, maintain work or obtain education while in jail have a much lower rate of rearrest. Also, respondents who participate in job training classes while in prison are less likely to be reincarcerated 1 year out.
For young men looking to re-enter society after serving time, please visit the Help for Felons website as a resource for programs and resources that are categorized by state.
Lynda Jones is a mom, like many of you, reading this. She has a message that she wants to leave with you today. She said the pain of her son’s conviction was a torment and that there were times when her situation just seemed unbearable. “When this happened to me, I was embarrassed and wanted to hide. I’m sharing my story because I want to help. I need other mothers to know YOU ARE NOT ALONE!”
Lynda hopes to one day write a book about her experiences with all three of her children. They are very distinct individuals, each with their own unique journey. For now, she is looking to connect with moms who share this same pain and know what it feels like to have a son in prison. In the near future, she plans to contribute her time and energy to Moms of Black Boys United to be an encouragement for moms with incarcerated sons. She has what it takes to be a part of a perfect safe haven where moms like her can openly reveal their shame or embarrassment and ultimately heal. We encourage you to go to www.mobbunited.org and join today, as support of Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. will help moms like Lynda Jones.
Moms of Black Boys United, Inc., the 501c3 sister organization of MOBB United for Social Change (MUSC), works hard to change negative perceptions of Black boys and men. Much of this work requires financial resources. To date, our organization has been completely self-funded; but to grow and expand, we need your help. Please consider donating to Moms of Black Boys United, Inc. this month at mobbunited.org/donate. Also, please learn more about fundraising plans and what else you can do to help.