Sunday, September 28, 2014

#41 - Addressing the term "Gay For the Stay" (Journal entries through December 12, 2013)

There's a girl in here that 'Brother' was calling 'Sister' until she got transferred.  Sister is still here, so that's how I'll refer to her.  She got in trouble for passing notes a couple days ago and it landed her in The Hole (solitary confinement).  She gets a little mouthy when the guards come in to do their rounds,  something they have come to expect of her.  One of them commented to her about following the rules.  She shot back, "The only thing that ever gets me in trouble around here is loving too much."  The guard laughed, shook his head, and said, "Just follow the rules."  He knew it was true - she does get in trouble 'only' for loving too much.  It's trouble for passing notes, or for sneaking a peek out the crack in the shades of the window when the guys pass by.  I hear her make crude comments about the guards when they leave from doing their rounds in here. 

I have thought about her 'breaking the rules' by 'loving too much.'  She's not the only one.  I thought back to my child development days in college.  I've remembered how important the need for affection is.  It's so important that if a newborn baby does not get love and physical contact in the early stages of life, that the development of that child suffers - sometimes so much that nothing that is ever done for that child in the whole rest of life, will ever make up for what was lost in those first years.  I think about babies in orphanages who look deformed because bones and muscles didn't form right or eyes that show no emotion.  That's what a lack of affection does to a baby. I know these girls aren't babies,  but the need for human affection is strong.

A need for physical affection and love is so crucial in a relationship that it can make or break a marriage, a family, an individual.  That need for affection is so much a part of our being that we crave it.  God created this need so powerful that in a marriage, it would be a strength and create a desire to have babies of our own, and to pass along that love and affection to them, to snuggle them when they cry or comfort them when they get hurt. 

All of that need and desire to give affection is how God created us.  We crave it (some more than others) and it's a good thing.  But he also created commandments - the boundries of how and when it's appropriate. 

I can't attest to all these girls, but I know a lot of them have had horrible experiences when they were younger with being molested.  That commandment was broken and they are the result of someone else's actions.  For some of them, it was not just once, but several times, or for years.  Experience after experience has been heartbreaking to hear how this God-given desire was turned evil on them.  It's not surprising that the results of male after male disrespected, defiled, and humiliating one girl, she turned to other women for that love and affection she craved so badly. 

I don't know every girl's story in here - and I don't need to.  I know that God gave us commandments to keep love and affection within the bounds He has set - to be between a man and woman - to be within marriage - to be used as a strength to a marriage relationship and also as a way to create children.  For different reasons, many of these girls have turned to other women for affection.  For some, it's a choice.  For others it's the way they were from the time they were little.  Sometimes it's sexual and other times it's just being a friend.  Anything from playing with each other's hair, to sitting on each other's laps, to finding ways around the rules to be in each other's cells or shower.  The term 'gay for the stay' has been used around here - meaning while they are in here, they get affection how they can; and when they get out, they go back to dating guys. 

In other facilities I know it's a problem.  Women trading property for 'favors' or fighting for dominance in a relationship or intimidation.  That's not the way I've seen it here, and I know I would probably never survive another facility with my trusting nature.  The guards will announce 'reminders' over the loud speaker - "Keep your hands to yourself," or "No crouding around the door of another inmate's cell." 

I don't get it, I don't understand it, and I have never been around it like I have in jail (despite what the rumors say about girls that play college softball)!  One thing is for sure - it doesn't stop me from getting to know these girls, to love them, to serve them, to pray for them, and be a light even though I don't agree with what they do.  I don't have to compromise my standards or stifle my compassion for them.  They have too much good within each of them to stop me from helping them try to magnify that good.  There's a lot that we miss out on within a person if we draw a line at something we don't agree with.  I can still have compassion and not agree with what they do. 

I feel a soft spot in my heart forming for these girls.  I never, ever, ever expected that from a jail experience.  I completely realize that many of them are manipulators.  They lie.  They cheat.  They steal.  They are conniving.  They have created more havoc in their families than they should.  I'm sure their families have learned to be cautious about what they hear.  But on one level or another, Nobody... is perfect.  I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt - not to judge or try to make sense of it all.  Luckily, that's not my job anyway. 


On my last trip to the temple, I went in hoping to receive some inspiration.  I knew I'd be going to jail soon.  I didn't know all that would be before me, but God did.  As I sat in a room listening to the organ play, I picked up a hymn book.  I opened it to a song that was sung at my baptism.  I didn't expect it to bring me to tears and remind me exactly of what I was going to jail to do. 

"I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go."

It may not be on the mountain height,
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle's front
My Lord will have need of me.

But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I'll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I'll go where you want me to go.

I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord,
Over mountain or plain or sea;
I'll say what you want me to say, dear Lord;
I'll be what you want me to be.

Perhaps today there are loving words
Which Jesus would have me speak;
There may be now in the paths of sin
Some wand'rer whom I should seek. (Enter any name of these girls here.)
O Savior, if thou wilt be my guide,
Tho dark and rugged the way, (or full of profanity)
My voice shall echo the message sweet:
I'll say what you want me to say.

By this point in the song, I was getting mushy inside.  My eyes were getting wet and I tried to fight the need to sniff. 

There's surely somewhere a lowly place (jail)
In earth's harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor through life's short day (42 short days to be exact)
For Jesus, the Crucified.
So trusting my all to thy tender care, (I'm scared of what I'll face)
And knowing thou lovest me, (For. Sure!)
I'll do thy will with a heart sincere:
I'll be what you want me to be.

By the end of the song, sitting in the temple pew, I was sobbing.  I had to get up to get a handful of Kleenex.  I had been digging my heels in, trying not to go to jail.  And after reading this song in my mind, accompanied by the feeling that's there in the temple, my feet quit digging in, and starting picking themselves up to move forward.  This is the song that I sang in my mind this morning at break outside.  I did lunges back and forth in the small fenced yard while I hummed all by myself, as the only one that goes out in the mornings after breakfast.  Forward lunges, backward lunges, side lunges, some high knees and some bum kicks to wake myself up in the freezing air.  Wish I could Pinterest a 'small apartment workout' about now for some ideas of how to workout here.  My mind is blank.  I also was trying to remember all the words to Say Love, but I get stuck in some parts.  My own voice humming just doesn't carry the same tune as when I sing along with Hilary in the car.  My off-tune throws me off and I forget the words.  When I'm humming or thinking of music, I can kind of forget where I am. 

Here's Say Love, by Hilary Weeks


I really want to pray as a group for dinner.  The 3 of us that sit at the table all pray individually, but I really want to get up the courage to ask if we can pray together.  I don't know what it is about praying together.  Something about hearing what's in another person's heart and hearing them talk to God that's a tender experience.  I just need to find the courage to ask sometime before the week's end. 


I met a new girl today in the cell right next to Karen and me.  Karen thought she saw Robin reading The Book of Mormon, so I asked her the next time I saw her reading.  I walked by her doorway and saw her laying on her stomach facing the door with her scriptures open.  When I asked what she was reading she said, "It's the LDS kind of Bible."  I said, "Aww!  The Book of Mormon?  That's one of my favorite books!"  She sat up on her bed and explained that her Dad goes to that church and he's been wanting her to read it for quite a while.  She started quoting scripture to me from the Bible like nobody's business, talking about how she's trying to cross reference things with the Bible and fit all the people together like a puzzle.  I told her to let me know if she had any questions.

So, later on she sat down at one of the metal tables next to me in the common area and started talking about it again.  Not too far into the conversation, I felt in over my head.  I know stories from both the Bible and The Book of Mormon... and I know verses that I've memorized that have really touched me, but I don't have a ton of experience fitting the historical timeline of the two books together.  I scribbled a couple notes of things I would try to find for her, just wishing I had access to

I mentioned to Robin that Karen said she could draw.  Robin said she plays around with it, but I could tell she was being humble about this possible hidden talent.  I told her that it was killing me not to have a camera with me for this whole jail experience.  I asked her if that was weird.  After laughing at me, she said no, that wasn't weird.  I asked her if she would want to draw me something from in here and she said she'd be happy to. 

I gave her a few pieces of my notebook paper and told her she could use it to start over if she wasn't happy with it, or keep the extra pieces for herself.  A short time later, she brought this picture to the doorway of my cell! 

It's a gem!  It's better than a photographed picture!  This is the work of a real live, inmate!  I was so excited that I tried not to jump up and down and hug her!  It shows the small metal table and seats bolted to the wall, the metal sink/toilet combo that's hooked together in one piece, the metal lockers to the left of the door, the metal bunk beds bolted to the wall with worn pillow cases and drab, plaid, wool blankets.  And the tiny window with thick glass that we can't even see out of - but it's cold enough to store a carton of milk in the windowsill in the middle of winter!  I love the drawing and will treasure it!  

It makes me wonder what other hidden talents are in these jail walls, going completely unused... 


Tonight I am thankful that someone else shared their talents with me.  I am thankful for music - how good it sounds in my head and even how off key it sounds coming out my mouth.  I am thankful for mail, even though I didn't get any today.  I know there's some coming.  I am thankful for visitors!  Oh man am I thankful for visitors!  I had 7 of them in the lobby all waiting to share the 20 minute visit with me.  I wish more of the girls in here got visitors.  I had worked my way through 5 of them when I could see through the glass, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law walked in the door at the farthest side of the lobby.  I never thought Jason and his brother looked a lot alike, but when I saw Chase walk in he was all the handsomeness of my husband.  It was a view I needed to see!  He sat down on the stool across from me to take his turn at the window.  I got teary.  This is the first time I have had family come visit me.  These people that come visit carry such a spirit about them.  A whole, big dose of goodness from the outside world!  I am thankful for that feeling of contrast.  I don't even care what we talk about, I just need to feel that pure goodness through the window and phone receiver!  It reminds me of the verse in Mathew that says, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
"Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." 

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