Sunday, November 9, 2014

#47 - Wake Up and Be Different (Journal Entries Through January 9, 2014)

I woke up to the little jingle through the speaker in my cell.  Breakfast in 5 minutes.  Ugh!  I so did not want to get up.  What do I even wake up for anyway?  For a breakfast lineup followed by the rest of the girls all going back to bed?  Do I wake up for the silence in the morning?  I want to sleep away this bad dream I'm stuck in for the next 6 days. 

Just as I was just wanting completely out of this situation, a strong thought came to my mind, "Wake up and be different."  It was like the thought itself just pulled me up out of bed.  Wake up and be different.  What does it mean?  Wake up because I'm sleeping?  Or maybe wake up from my negative attitude?  Wake up and realize what God needs from me?  Be different.  Different from what?  My negativity?  Different from the rest of the girls?  I can't explain if it was a message from God, but it was motivating and positive... and in my frustrated, negative thoughts it definitely didn't come from me. 

Wake up and be different. 

The phrase was making a comfy spot in my brain, and then I was interrupted by all the flushing toilets at one time.  I kinda had to smile to myself and shake my head.  Yup, another reminder that I'm in jail!  My Bunkie was still laying on the bottom bunk.  I left the room and lined up with the rest with my cup and spork in a line like cattle to file through and get my breakfast.  She pulled the curtain for her privacy to get dressed and then came down to file into the line.  I've learned to do the 'Bunkie Shuffle' and so far it's worked to not have to use the bathroom in front of someone else.  Any mom knows that it's bad enough that as soon as you head to the bathroom, you have little hands knocking on the door or fingers peeping under the door needing your attention for something.  Having a grown woman in the cell takes it to a whole new level.  I've been Rachel's Bunkie for less than a day and I can already tell that we'll do just fine in that department. 


This morning Karen stayed up with me and went to break outside in between scriptures.  We got about 3 inches of new snow so I got to shovel.  It was nice to have something to do out there, especially since my orange crocs weren't very compatible with my normal lunges in the snow.  Even shoveling, the snow packed into the holes and made my socks wet. 

Karen didn't last long in the cold and the guards let her back in.  Another inmate came out on the other side of the fence, where the kitchen inmates have their break area.  She's a strong lady and when she shoveled snow, it made me feel pretty puny.  She'd huck big shovels full of wet, heavy snow all the way up over the barbed rings along the top of the fence.  My best bet was to throw it through the chain length fence.  I kind of wish she could hurl me up over the fence - and I haven't even been here a full day!  I don't know how these girls make it in here for such a long time. 


Later on I came out to break again with Brother (yes, she's been transferred back), Sister, and another girl.  Brother made an ice sculpture into a throne for Sister.  She sat down on her throne and asked for her hot chocolate, drank with her finger up, and talked in a fancy accent.  In between all the cussing (which they don't even realize they are doing) they are pretty funny girls playing princess in their prison stripes.  I think I even laughed at this whole situation I found myself watching.  Sometimes it just hits me.  I'm in jail!  Like - real jail.  With real inmates... and I couldn't get out if I tried.  That's weird.   

As soon as we went back inside the guys came out.  Depending on who is on shift, the guards will shut the shades to the window so we can't see down the hall to the outside when the guys are out there.  Today they didn't.  The girls watched as the guys dismantled the throne Brother had worked so hard to build.  We learned later that they didn't get too far into it before one of the guards came over the loudspeaker outside and warned, "You're making the wrong person mad."  Brother does the laundry for the whole jail, and Sister seems to have something going with one of the guys, however that is supposed to work.  They have their own code to communicate and have gotten caught passing notes.  Jailhouse drama. 


The phrase has been creeping in and out of my mind all day.  Wake up and be different.  I've thought about what it's physically like to be different.  Bryer is 'different.'  People see her in her wheels and stop, or stare, or show curiosity, or ask questions, and usually comment on her head full of ringlets.  People are also drawn to her.  A random lady in the checkout stand kissed her on the head as we were shopping after Christmas!  If someone was going to need help or to reach out, they'd need to know where to go.  Like a boat lost at sea, its captain looks for the lighthouse.  Personally, I'd rather huddle in my cell or stick with Karen and not stand out.  I don't think that's God's intentions for me though.  I'm naturally different in here.  I'd like to think that's a good thing, but I don't feel like I blend in, other than my stripes match the rest of the girls.  That's not to say I'm better than them at all - just different.  So far I feel like it's a struggle to stay positive, let alone being able to reach out to someone.  Scriptures are key for me to continued to stay uplifted.  The mail and visitors from 'the outs' doesn't hurt either.  :-)  I had mail waiting for me when I got here, and more every day that I've been here.  One of the guards today said he doesn't think he's ever handed out as much mail to one inmate as he has to me.  Today I got letters from 3 different states, and from people I have never met.  I don't know what I have done to deserve such support, but it sure lifts my burden.  Mail call is a high light of the day Monday through Friday.  I just wish the other girls got more mail - for the same feeling of support, encouragement, and happiness it brings me. 


I've been trying to understand this flawed justice system without letting it completely wipe me out.  Not many people get a look from the inside that aren't supposed to be here.  I'm paying for something I didn't do.  So there's got to be a reason in God's big plan that I'm here in the circumstances I am - choosing the jail I serve time in, scheduling when I can come and go, and planning around my family's schedules.  I've wondered why these girls just sit here - no programs, no classes, no rehab, nothing to better themselves.  They have AA every other week and a rotating clergy member that comes for Sunday church services and Tuesday Bible study.  Other than that, it's a lot of TV, reading, and sleeping the time away.  I asked Karen about the situation and she explained that at other facilities there are programs and rehab and things that take up time.  This place is a transfer hub for those in between facilities, those on 'reflection' (a time out for being kicked out of their rehab programs), or those that have finished their programs and are waiting to go before the judge.  She talked about the time she spent going through her rehab at another facility and then being sent to The Hole.  For 3 days she had nothing except a Bible.  She spent a lot of time thinking - and then finally reading.  In the end she said it was the best 3 days she could have spent with herself.  Not too long after that she was transferred to this jail and 2 weeks later I came.  God works in mysterious ways.  She told me that she had reached a plateau - she knew where she had come from and where she wanted to be, but finding her point A to point B was looking really hard.  She felt blessed that I came when I did.  I, on the flipside, had been so blessed by her preparation.  I would not have made it my first week without someone to ask questions, share shampoo, and fill me in on all the jail etiquette. 


A surprise visitor came today.  Robin came in pushing the food cart to deliver a meal today!  (Never thought I'd be excited for another inmate as a 'surprise visitor.')  When I left the last time, I expected her to be released soon after I left.  I was so glad to see her, but so sad that she's still here.  She said they didn't release her on parole because of a confrontation she had at a facility before here.  I know how many details she tried to plan - a ride 2 hours from home, a car seat ready for her son, a place to live, and a job to return to.  Those were her priorities.  Now she's still here, so I'm hoping for more scripture discussions, but it makes it hard while she's in the other cell block working in the kitchen. 


My day ended without getting my property - again.  First I have to wait for the right guard to be on shift.  Then I have to wait for that specific guard to have time.  They did say I have an item that was delivered that isn't something I was approved for, so that's even more time consuming for them.  Just walk me down to the property room and go through the things with me!  I thought I had taken care of all the details - the appropriate property approval forms, having them shipped from an approved online store, having them shipped within the required 21 days of being approved, making sure they were received before I returned for my 2nd trip in here.  My things are not really my things in here.  I know the guards are busy and they have worse things to remember than my property, and I'm trying to be patient, but I'd love to get my hands on my crochet supplies for something new to learn in here.  I don't like confrontation, so even speaking up to one of the guards as they make rounds is intimidating for me.  I put in a kite instead, requesting my property again


My conversation with Karen today renewed my excitement for my new Bunkie.  I know I've prayed for the right girl to share a cell with, but I was having a hard time feeling a connection to Rachel since she's so quiet.  Until tonight.  We layed in our bunks after lights out (or so-called lights out - the light is still on, and it's 2 feet from my face on the top bunk) and talked into the wee hours of the morning.  I asked about her family, trying to find an alternate conversation starter than the usual, "What are you in for?" that all the other girls ask.  I about jumped off my bunk when she said she used to go to church with her grandma when she was little.  She talked about the things she remembered and the feelings she felt there.  She remembers watching her cousin go up in front and receive some kind of award, and she remembered some basic things that she learned in her primary class.  She said she still believes in God and she knows He loves her.  She opened up with heartache she's felt and holes in her life that she needed to fill.  She told me a little bit about how she got addicted to pain killers and then it escalated from there. 

In her way of telling her life story, she went from being little and attending church to escalating fast into drugs.  Even though there were years in between those times, there was a strong contrast in those two pieces of her life. 

I know that church is not a cure-all.  I know that people of all kinds struggle with addiction and struggles and tests of faith.  But there was a distinct difference between the little girl Rachel described as going to church with her grandma and the one who fell into addiction.  I had to stop her story to ask why she stopped going to church.  She said that her sister said a prayer in class and the teacher told her that she prayed wrong.  Her mom, being so protective of her little girls, didn't let them go back. 

My heart aches for Rachel's sister - that little girl sitting in a Sunday primary class, trying so hard to do the right thing and having the courage to say a prayer out loud - only to have her teacher say she didn't pray the right way.  I wanted to leave the jail right then and wake that teacher up and have a talk with her.  Does she know there's no right or wrong way to pray?  That there's no right or wrong place or time or mood to pray in?  When we pray, we acknowledge there's something bigger out there than ourselves - That He's listening to us - That we matter - and that He. Will. Answer.  There is nothing 'wrong' about that! 

I have seen faith and prayers in action happen in the way a 4 year old prays for his lost hermit crab... and a little girl in tears over a missing shoe... and a boy afraid of the dark... and myself in the trenches of potty training... all the way to sitting here in jail praying for a way to connect to my new Bunkie.  Prayer is a direct line to be able to talk to God anytime we want.  There are guidelines of how to pray, but those should never stand in the way of offering our heart to him. 

We start our prayer "Dear Heavenly Father," by addressing him - like I would address a friend if I were going to start a conversation.  We thank Him for all the blessings we have.  Then we ask for those things we need His help with.  And we close 'In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen."  The heartfelt things come in the middle as we really think about what we're praying for. 

I wasn't there in that classroom, but I hardly believe that Rachel's sister prayed 'wrong.'  I can't say that I wouldn't do the same thing that Rachel's mom did in her shoes, in protecting her daughters.  They were sent specifically to her.  Without going to church herself, there wasn't an opportunity to approach the teacher or have an open conversation about it.  Knowing what I know and having the testimony I do, my heart hurts to know these girls' learning was stunted about God's plan for them.  Somehow it drove a wedge into something that could have been a great strength and protection for them. 

I know that a choice to stop going to church doesn't automatically end in addiction.  In fact, there are many that go to church anyway that struggle with addiction - and lots of really uplifting people that choose not to go to church.  I just know that attending church every week is a huge strength to me.  One of Jason's favorite things he learned from his church mission as a 19 year old was the quote, "My favorite smell in church is cigarette smoke."  Everyone has a vice or something they struggle with.  Some are outward, but for many more no one can tell what any one person struggles with.  Either way that person is at church, trying to learn and grow and maybe turn something hard over to God.  It was so comforting for me to hear Rachel speak from her heart and not to have given up on God... to know that He loves her.  It confirmed again that the things we teach our children will be strong rooted.  Here Rachel sits in a jail cell after so many struggles, but through it all she still remembers the things she was taught as a little girl. 

She talked about being a spiritual person, but not religious.  We talked about the difference and agreed that being religious was based on a specific religious denomination.  Being religious included the church's interpretations of things and specific ways to live.  We agreed that being spiritual is far wider reaching.  We are all spiritual - because we are spiritual beings.  Our bodies will get old and die and become separate from our earthly bodies.  Our spirits will live on, just as they lived before we had a body for them.  I shared with Rachel the quote that was on Bryer's hospital bed as she fought for her life 3 years ago. 

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.  We are spiritual beings having a human experience." 

She had me repeat it again and then was quiet for a while.  She was quiet for so long that I thought maybe she was asleep.  Then she told me good night. 

It could not be any more true today as I lay in a jail cell as it was the day our Bryer girl was fighting for her life strapped to machines.  That day she chose life.  She chose to stick it out.  To be brave.  To choose God's plan for her.  I don't know if she understood the limitations she would endure, but I know she does it now with a happy face that lights up a room.  She spreads joy.  She sings at the top of her lungs in the car.  Her life has meaning and purpose.  She has a smile so big that she has to concentrate to relax her mouth to form her lips together to say "Mom."  The least I can do is follow her example and have that attitude as I can reach out to these spirits I spend time with in jail. 

I went to bed way later than I should have, but it was worth the good company.  Wake up and be different.  Yes, I think I will. 

1 comment:

  1. Another great chapter, Krissi. Have a wonderful week.