"Letters from Inside" is a blog series featuring incarcerated women at Minnesota Correctional Facility–Shakopee, where Prison Fellowship® runs one of its Academies. Over the coming months, you will hear perspectives from women who are not only serving time for crimes but are now trying to live their lives for Jesus behind bars.
For more "Letters from Inside," click here.
HOW I DEAL WITH LONELINESS WHILE SERVING MY PRISON SENTENCE
It wasn't until I was almost 15 years into my 30-year life sentence that I gave my life to Christ. I was just doing time—until time began doing me.
God-willing, I will be released in the year 2027. But that release date is not guaranteed with my sentence. … I feel the loneliness is especially grim for us who have no promised specific date of release. So how do I deal with loneliness while in prison?
LEAN ON CHRIST'S PROMISES
There are many ways I deal with loneliness in prison, but always my path leads back to Christ. I lean on God's promises daily, [and] that is what I strive to do every day in prison.
In Hebrews 13:5b (NIV) it says, "and be content with what you have, because God has said, 'Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."
You know, inevitably something frightening happens. Some old fear creeps up in my mind, or some harsh words are said that trigger horrendous nightmares—and I realize that those who I have loved and relied on are no longer with me. I am alone.
I [may] stand here trying to be brave, [but I want] to run and hide. Sometimes I even lose my dignity by using my words to hurt—just because I don't know how to do better in the moment. ... [But] the voice of God speaks directly to my heart, saying, "Fear not, for I am with you" (Isaiah 41:13). I am never alone. The Great Comforter is always with me.
FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT
Another way I stave off loneliness is by serving others. I try to emulate the fruit of the Spirit in my manner and behavior. I treat others with the love that God has given me, and I remember that I am here to serve others because of the great sacrifice Jesus Christ made for me.
In prison, I tutor women in GED and the Office Support Specialist Certificate because of the unbelievable God-given joy I receive from helping others become better women—women who can walk out of these doors with some sort of education. That education leads them to building confidence in themselves and futures that can keep them from the revolving door of what prison is to so many women. What joy when I see their families at graduation!
STEP OUT IN FAITH & FORGIVE
I am a loner by nature—a natural introvert. Aloof, arrogant, condescending, unapproachable, and disconnected—[these] are words I have heard used to describe me [throughout the] years. Both to my face and behind my back. The truth of the matter is, in an environment like this where very few people keep their word, trust and faith feel cheap.
But through the Prison Fellowship Academy™, I have changed. Now, I trust and step out in faith that what one of my community members in Christ says to me is truth, and I can extend that faith to others as well.
The message of the Gospel for today's church is to trust in Christ. Believe in Him. Nourish yourself in Him. Find life in Him. And spread that life to everyone around you in your own little corner of the world.
That's what I strive to do daily in my life here by being an image-bearer of Christ to all I meet. For I know that I have never looked into the eyes of someone God does not love or Jesus did not die for. So, I love them too. Any way I can.
And by doing so, I feel loved and no longer alone on this journey called "life."
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