We drove up to the back entrance, on the back end of a car line filled with old Cadillacs and soccer mom SUV's. My hands were sweating and my body aching as we pulled into our parking space.
I thought I knew what I was doing, but it turns out I had no idea what I was getting into. This was the kind of thing you can prepare for in theory, but until you do it, your mind grasps desperately for something predictable.
Nothing about this was predictable to me.
As we walked towards the crowd, my manila packet in hand and name badge pinned securely to my black leather jacket, I prayed unbeautiful prayers that sounded more like stuttering than actual supplication.
Help me, I'm not sure, what am I doing? How, how, how did I ever think I could make a difference here?
Yet, regardless of what I thought I should or shouldn't be doing, there I was, walking myself alongside an army of grandmothers, mothers, recovering addicts, widows and a few college girls into a small door on the corner of what can only be described as the Jericho of chain link fences.
We had come to prison.
And I was terrified.
But not of them. Of me.
As we walked along the freshly cut grass of the maximum security women's only prison, and into a gym that steamed of clorox and lemon, I thought, "What exactly am I going to say to a woman who was incarcerated for things I can't even dream up??" A lot of these women were here for life.
Who was I, this girl with standard life, to tell them about joy and freedom and redemption?
I doubted God's move on this one, but promised I would keep my heart and my eyes and my ears open to hear from Him and seek out hopelessness.
Unfortunately, I didn't have to look far.
As we walked through their dorms, toward the backlot where we'd have our gathering, I could have cried, seeing the vast pendelum of reactions when a dozen women walked through their "home" smiling and greeting them with all warmness and care.
Some were furious. Some were confused. And some lit up like a child on Christmas morning.
They looked at us like we weren't real.
Hopelessness wasn't far off.
- - - - - -
What do you do when God calls you to something you feel completely and utterly inadequate to accomplish?
What do you do when you have no concrete idea what you're actually supposed to be doing?
I had a lot of questions and about 7 minutes to discern an answer. Or so I thought. For most of the morning, I thought I needed the entire roadmap to be effective. I needed to see the destination and work backwards in order to not end up off roading or stuck in a ditch I couldn't get out of.
Nevertheless, I had a gut wrenching feeling God was going to do, once again, what He'd been faithful to do all my life:
God was going to guide my steps. Not give me a full delineation of the game plan.
In other words, I had to move, walk, step instead of sitting in the paralyzing planning phase of the moment.
Reason is knowing and trusting a proven God. Faith is super scary movement based on reason.
So I walked. Right up to a beautiful woman named Sarah.*
To be continued.
*Names have been changed to protect identity.