I suppose, being that I'm the new kid on the block (well, sorta), that it's fun to tell me horror stories and watch my reaction. It's fun (evidently) for the inmates to draw me pictures and color them in to show me glimpses of the place. That's one thing that the inmates did today. Not that they haven't each time I've gone. But today, I watched them watch my face from the descriptions they drew, from the scenes they painted, from the visuals they gave. I'll be honest, each time I leave I'm more horrified of the place that they're prisoned inside in.
It was weird today watching them watching me. I don't know that I've noticed it before. Who knows, maybe it was the first time? Actually, it was mostly one girl in particular. Like I said, I saw her seeing me! And her statement afterwards confirmed it.
I was leaving. We walked out together. She told me that she had been watching my reactions to the stories she and the other girls told. But I saw something else too, that she didn't mention, that I am totally convinced of. I think she needed to see (and be reminded of) that this isn't the norm. I think being there in all the years that she has was making her immune to the things that shouldn't be as they are now. Last week, one girl referred to me as 'something they needed that they hadn't seen in so long.' As 'a bit of fresh air.' 'Like the wind' in a desert. A "breeze." Spring in the dead of winter.
And today, like I said, it was weird. But I think that they saw something else that they wanted to be. And, too, something else that they didn't. They don't want to become hardened. Don't want to become mean. Don't want to be what they are gradually, slowly being changed to be.
I tried to encourage her as we walked. I told her that I loved them like crazy, and thought about and prayed for them all of the time. And then I told her, "Please! Don't let this place conform you to them! Don't become like them before you get out. Keep your face fixed on Jesus and let Him mold and make you. Not these people. Not here. Not this."
She smiled and quoted the verse, "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" - Rom 12:2. She knows. God's tugging on her. She has a greater want-to, a bigger determination, a smile in a hard place and a lighter spring in her step despite the meanness and hardness of the ground where she currently walks. May God grow her in this. May she be a Display of His Splendor. A great Light in the midst of great dark!