1. Respect Freedom
This probably seems like the most obvious one. It would be easier to say enjoy or value your freedom, remember each day how amazing it is that we have freedom. But it’s quite unrealistic in our day to day lives to be genuinely aware of our freedom-especially if we have never been without it! All I ask is that we have spared a thought for it, that we respect the freedom we have. So many times I have heard women say how much more intense everything is in prison.
Last night one women was explaining how her child is struggling at school, yet she only has a set time when she can phone and that’s it. She wants to be able to go and see her child, speak to the school, speak to friends-walk freely and have space to think! I understand why she cannot-but its worth being aware of. What it must be like when something we daily so take for granted is taken away. So I have learned to Respect and be grateful for Freedom.
I met a man in a prison who told me what he missed so much was Trees. He had never appreciated trees before, yet after 12 years of concrete walls and a concrete yard to walk around. He longed to see a tree. I’m not suggesting people shouldn’t be in prison- I am suggesting that personally we should be grateful for and Respect Freedom, and so careful about how we take it away.
2. Anyone can fall
When you imagine prisoners maybe you think like I did initially, picturing massive skin-head women who have been always involved in gangs/drugs/’bad stuff’. Yes, of course there are some women who look like this and have tragic stories of a life of pain and disappointments. They often are the most gentle hearted and open women. When you get to know them, they are lovingly looking out for their friends and struggle with a lot of insecurities just like all women do.
There are also women who you mistake for staff, who are middle-class, educated, seemingly together women who can have short or very long sentences. I was speaking to a woman last night who was saying she has such a loving family, was brought up well. Yet she fell, circumstances were difficult and she made wrong decisions (however trapped she felt). Subsequently, she is now in prison and has been for a year. I honestly look at so many of these women and when I hear their stories and get to know their character I realise- I could be where you are now.
There are such a huge range of reasons women are in prison and I can only hope that if I am ever in a desperate situation I will not turn to an answer which results in that pathway. Yet anyone can fall, and we all do – maybe you just haven’t been caught yet!
I have learned to not be so quick to judge, but give and receive the Grace of God. Anyone can fall, I just hope it is to our knees.
3. No-one is beyond repair
A while ago now I had talked with a co-worker about wanting to see the women experience Healing. We prayed in the chapel for more opportunities to do this as we were about to leave. Then two women came in one who was as I described above- tall, muscular, shaven head,tattooed & making a LOT of noise!‘Ohhh noooo’ was my faith-filled response! So I did my typical nip to the toilet to pray and ask God to give me something new to say.
We had a discussion about Gods love. I felt as we spoke that God was saying this girl had a bad foot, that she was in pain. She was sitting down and hadn’t shown signs of it. Yet as she engaged more and more during the session about God’s love, she opened up slightly about how in need she was of whatever ‘this’ was!
I said I had felt God wanted to heal her foot if she was happy for me to pray. After the initial swearing between the girls at how I knew about her foot and how painful it had been – she let me pray. Her foot was healed on the spot.
“F*$K OOOOFFFF!!!” she shouted, as she jumped up and ran out swearing- then came back to collect her shoe! This isn’t the first time this has happened, yet each time I am so encouraged. I love that God knew what she needed and how to start to help her, both emotionally with the work of her understanding His love- and also physically to show her the Truth of what was said.
There are so many stories, of every type of woman. Women healed physically of broken arms,bad backs,infections,MS and many more. I’ve seen God work beautifully in the lives of women from petty crimes to murderers & sex offenders, who I have had the privilege of praying with, walking with, practically helping and seeing them repaired-often slowly- by the beautiful hands who created them in the first place.
4. It’s not on ME
Little girls can ‘help’ their Dad with the cooking, cleaning etc., but really the Dad is doing all the work, she is just holding his hand. The little girl in this picture is collecting starfish with her Dad. That’s all I am asked to do, hold His hand and help, but really trusting He is far bigger and is doing everything for me.
This was a big one I have had to learn and it still lingers and needs to be battled with! Working so closely with people, seeing their lives and their struggles. Having so much Hope when you see positive steps and then disappointments when it doesn’t look how you wanted. Yet I am not their hope, I am not the hope of the world, I cannot save, I cannot heal, I cannot be with them constantly-surrounding them and being an encouragement in their ear.
I can point them to the One who CAN.
Being close to Him myself, having Him as my hope, my salvation, my constant and biggest lover and encourager means I have the capacity to show Him to them. To carry a great light and shine into the darkness that surrounds, means I can hand them that light and see the beauty as they spread it, as they start to trust and hold His hand. Then watch the light grow!
NOW – GO AND LOOK AT A TREE!
Thanks for your on-going prayers & support. I hope you are encouraged and I always love to hear feedback. Love Hannah x
(All pictures are taken from Pintrest)