There is a huge thunderstorm near Ann Arbor tonight and the jail went on lockdown due to power outages. All the volunteers were asked to leave.
Although I wouldn’t trade a moment in there for anything, it’s hard and I was grateful for the night off. Additionally a slew of little things that makes me long for old friends in the face of newness here, and has taught me a lot, also has me worn down.
The highlight from this week was I got to go to a class that up until about a month ago was only hosted in the jail, “Alcoholics for Christ.” The jail minister teaches it the same night I do most of my visits and he invited me this past Wednesday, (I’ll have spiritual direction class next week) He has been teaching it for years in the jail, but only 5 weeks out of the jail. He hopes to help anyone, I assume, but I am especially praying for the women transitioning that could go.
There were three of us, all potential mentors, and it was a great chance to get to know each other a little.
We sang a proverb, (17:22 – A merry heart is like a medicine, a broken spirit dries up the bones, but a merry heart, (merry heart merry heart) is a medicine.) It was like something they’d sing at this family church camp I went to as an adult, the weekend before my husband went to the hospital. Three years ago nearly to the day last month, (Aug 9th, 2011.) He died Sept 11th of that same year.
And that’s the bittersweetness that haunts me a little, like Jim. I’ve been told many times that you can only do things when you are ready, but often that seems to be said to soften the blow.
There is some of my life that is no fault of my own, how I was raised, but at the same time I was also raised with a lot of freedom, security, and encouragement. Perhaps not always in the healthiest direction but with the best of what my parents had.
The difficulties I’ve very recently stem from a disconnect of expectation and assumptions made that I am grateful for but confounded by. It is easy in the jail because I can so easily identify with the sin, dashed hopes, and desire to turn from it, start over, allow God to make things right, with a raw honesty that does break through at times and other times is less so, yet those times of exposed brokenness show incredible potential that ring in strongly to when I first was in such a place or when the Spirit shows me a new area to prune.
But that’s the easy life giving stuff, (at least from my perspective). The challenge for me these days is dealing with the people that have stayed on the beam, not dealt with consequences, are doing good and mostly have, though they struggle. The gold and silver vessels.
God made my path what it is for a reason and I truly believe that all the stuff that’s bad can have a purpose and some of this allows me to be effective, through His grace, in the jail. But I’m also expected to run in these other circles and I can’t run away from that because God is being very clear that – although I don’t have to be close to people in all these circles – I need to treat them with just as much love, respect, and inclusion.
At the same time, I have these sudden flashes of memory, riding in the passenger side and hearing my husband say, “I hope you don’t want to get out of this situation” in this teasing knowing tone. These moments were so frequent when he was close and even when I could just get him on the phone his voice would bring me home.
I remember a Thanksgiving in my thirties when I was at my cousins and my cousin, her children, and my aunts were at the grocery. I was marvelling at how similar one of her children was to me, and my grandmother, and commented to my Aunt, our resembances. “Neat, isnt it?” My aunt was kind in her tone but I also got that it was abnormal for such a reflection to be new to me, but it was.
Out of respect for them I can’t blog the details or what has happened more recently, except to say it’s a reminder of who I am and where I came from brought right up to today, wrestling with simple kindness and instead of being comforting, longing for comfort from a true friend that I would give anything to see.
I can project and rationalize, distract and work, and read and hide and serve and stay out in the open and never can I go around the simple truth of what is.
Father God I trust you with my past, present and future. That all the waywardness can be worked together for good, what I do about what I’m currently being given is, even amid my fumbling, acceptable to You, and that the direction You are leading is that of fulfillment, because You can’t do anything else. Help me to make decisions to be in the best support for the women that will be in this house and for me. As I wrap up with the Sunday School and begin to network more for the transition ministry, guide every step and grant that I always fear You the most. No matter how churches, grant I only obey Your lead, and, at the same time, never dismiss Your support from Your church. I love you, and trust You with my life. Amen.