One of my most serious and most frequently debilitating fears is the fear of being trapped. Among the more irritating and frequent times I am reminded of this fear is driving in heavy traffic, where my natural response is to panic because I am surrounded by myriads of unfriendly cars with no escape. While I have visited slave forts (which was a very chilling experience), and other fortresses that have from time to time served as prisons, I have never been to prison myself. This is due to the grace of God and not due to my own skill, as I will freely admit. There are certainly many believers through history who have been imprisoned, whether because they did wrong or because they lived under the rule of corrupt regimes and ran afoul of evil authorities. Still others have felt trapped in situations because of finances, or because of relationships, or for various other reasons. I certainly have a great deal of empathy for people who fear being trapped and whose reaction to being trapped is the same sort of alarm that I show, the elevated heart rate, the irritability, and other similar symptoms. Far be it from me to condemn anyone who suffers the same sort of difficulties that I do and shows the same response to them, after all.
In light of this, I tend not to like to make other people feel trapped. I would never want a wife who felt trapped in marriage with me, desperately wishing to escape but afraid of the harm that might come to our children, or who felt as if I was smothering her and keeping her from personal growth. I would never want someone to feel as if they had to act friendly to me but did not wish to be friendly, or to make someone feel trapped in a conversation with me that they wanted nothing more to do than to end because I was boring or overwhelmingly intense. It greatly pains me when others run , but I would not wish others to feel constrained to stay. Rather, I would wish them to stay. I do not desire to be a warden or a keeper of prisoners in my life, but rather to surround myself with willing friends and, God willing, a loving and adoring wife. Not all men are so fortunate, I know from painful experience, of which one springs readily to mind. I once met a lovely young woman while we were both attending the Feast of Tabernacles, and some time later, after we were both single, her parents tried to throw us together and encourage a relationship, but she was already talking to a young man who she later dated for a few years. After breaking up with him, a single night’s letting go led her to be taken advantage of by someone, getting pregnant, and being pressured to marry the father of her unborn child. The experience was one of those that prompted me to reflect bitterly on the fact that some people married well despite doing wrong , but I would not wish to gain a wife in such a fashion. I want someone who knows who I am, my virtues and my flaws, my quirks and eccentricities, and who has chosen to love me anyway with open eyes and an open heart.
For there are worse prisons than the prisons of the body. Men like the Apostle Paul wrote and sang and preached and turned their prisons into pulpits and mission fields. To be sure, no one would wish to be a prisoner if that fate could be honorably and decently avoided, but sometimes one has to endure such a thing. The worst prisons are those we construct for ourselves, the prison of a heart and mind that is closed and that cannot be opened because we will not use the key. It is those who cannot be moved by any knowledge or any feeling, any act of kindness or explanation by others, that are in the worst sort of prison, in which they serve as the warden and as the prisoner, and as the judge who has sentenced them to life and refused to hear any appeals. So long as we are open to learning, open to growth, and willing to feel on behalf of others, we are free in mind and heart, no matter our physical conditions. And no matter how well off we are, if we have a mind and a heart that is closed to others, we are prisoners of a harsh kind, unable to connect or relate to our fellow pilgrims on this earth. Let us close none of our own open doors, at any rate, and make ourselves prisoners where we should engage in free and honorable commerce with the entire world.
What if the closed door is not a prison, but a test? Can our honor endure the time it takes for God to be sure that we are committed to righteousness, or will we succumb to impatience and to our own desires? What is then possible for us to find in life if we can master ourselves to the extent that we know we will not take the shortcuts to our desires that harm others and sabotage our own chances for happiness? It is clear to me, at least, that a great deal of my own life at this stage is about honor and the long path to get to the desired goals of life, where it is clear to all who have eyes to see the honor of character that it has taken. Perhaps, at that point, it will not be necessary to fear prisons at all, except insofar as they are the result of being godly in an ungodly world, rather than fear being punished as a malefactor and evildoer. If we could all be so noble and so wise.
 See, for example: