Ingrid had everything she wanted. She built her idols high and didn't see them until they crumbled.
"I had my so-called American Dream," she says, two weeks before coming up for review by the parole board. "I felt I was living fine. When I got to prison I found out I wasn't."
CHASING THE DREAM
God was always in the back of Ingrid's mind, however. She knew He was there. She even prayed for time off of her job as a nurse at UCLA so she could have time to go to church.
"I would get the weekends off and I still wouldn't go to church," she says. "Life would get so hectic."
For Ingrid, God was a convenient friend—someone in her back pocket to ask favors of when she had time or was in need. When she went to prison, her focus changed.
"I was trying to control my life," she explains. "I was worried about what was going to happen to my idols. I was concerned about everything except myself."
Ingrid didn't know what to expect behind bars. She was away from her family in a strange and distant land. Despite the struggles of incarceration, she found a new hope and a new way to live. After a long time, she found people who were ready to care for her.
"They say women are nurturers, and a lot of times they give," Ingrid says. "When you have another person, another woman, even a [corrections officer], or someone who is godly ... it really helps you get through the day, get through the moment."
After missing church for so many years, Ingrid found the church behind bars. Whether they were people around her or programs like Prison Fellowship Hope Events™, she found what she was least expecting.
"There are so many people here, they are 'the church' so-to-speak," she says. "They come and they try to inspire you, even when they don't know you. When you are down, they tell you, 'Have a blessed day.' It helps you get through."
Ingrid's stint in prison is almost finished. She's getting ready for her meeting with the parole board, and hopes she's ready to move on to the next chapter.
"Walking with Jesus in this institution has been a gift," she says with a smile. "I pray my way through everything, and at the end of the day, I'm thankful."
Ingrid never planned to go to prison. Her dreams left her feeling burdened and weighed down. But behind bars, she learned to pray her way through adversity and sadness.
"When I reflect, my burdens were really heavy on the outside. In here they're lighter," she says. "When I step back outside, I know what I need to keep that momentum, to keep that spirit ... I know I can make it, and I don't mean I can make it without going back to prison—I mean make it in life."