The Day I Went To Prison

Shadowy figures in the distant fog are easy to ignore. Walking right past the faceless bodies brings no pings of emotion that we wish could go away. What happens when the fog lifts and you lift your eyes as you make eye contact and say “Hello,God bless you and Merry Christmas.”? When the person is far away almost as if an abstract thought somehow we can justify not caring. This person must have done something terrible. This person is worthless and deserves to rot. This person really isn’t a person so let’s just walk away. It becomes much more of a blaring reality when you can imagine this woman as your bank teller, your dental hygienists,or even you. Where would we be if

we had made one choice that would of changed an entire future? I know that answer, I’d be on the other side of the cookie line.

So what does it mean to be on the side of the line that is giving? Yesterday was a day of waiting around. There was a fog plan in place which meant we didn’t get to pass out cookies right away. Held in a room full of predominately old order Amish sure made things interesting. As humans we tend to segregate ourselves into nice neat little groups. This makes us feel more comfortable ensuring that we don’t have to put forth much effort. The same was said even as we labored next to each other. There was a circle of chairs forming a tight group with backs facing us. Everyone not Amish we’re scattered around. Time came to repackage some cookies and I thought it would be my opportunity to break in with some of the Amish. I settled myself in to help. As I did this I tried countless times to make conversation. Each time being completely ignored. I’m not one to give up so I would simply repeat what I said. They’d grimace,answering a one word answer and turn away to talk in their language to someone else. I began asking myself why was it that these Amish came to this prison. It didn’t seem like it was for fellowship,they certainly don’t want any outsiders to get too close even if it’s another anabaptist,and they really seemed somewhat miserable. Then I remembered that these people are in just as much bondage as the women that are in maximum security. So I stood silently opening the baggies and as I passed it to the lady beside me I began to pray over these people that have physical freedom but are held in such tight chains and they don’t even know it.

Finally our wait was over and the rest of our cookie passing could continue. I was a bit nervous because I had no clue what to expect. Pretty quickly the unknown became known and I was comfortable. We all had a job mine was greeting the women as they entered. I so wish we could of hugged them because somehow a handshake just wasn’t enough. One young girl probably younger than me said “I’m a hugger and I’m so glad you’re here. You have no idea what this means to us.” With that she did lean in and gave me a hug and I didn’t mind. Streams of women came for the cookies,singing,and silent prayer. These women ranged in age from younger to me to 70’s or 80’s. I couldn’t help but wonder if they would ever have an identity outside of their crime. One older woman proudly announced “I have 27 days left and then I get a new life!” I felt happy for her and in the depths of my heart I prayed that it was the truth.

I made it my mission to memorize even one name and I did. I went home and looked up her crime. She was the get away driver in a burglary gone wrong. One bad choice and she wasn’t even the one to pull the trigger yet here she was. The Bible verse that says to avoid all appearances of evil has hung in my mind all day today. I wonder,would you stop right now and pray for this young woman? She is so young and when she gets out in several years could she be loosened from the chains of not only prison but also Satan?

One surprising experience was getting to go into the nursery. There were six young moms holding their precious gifts. None of these mothers have violent crimes and they all are going through a program to learn how to be a mother. You could definitely see a difference from mom to mom in how they talked about their children. My brain started wondering how will these children not develop RAD or other struggles. I found out that these children get to be with the moms for three years. It was so encouraging to see one mom with her baby’s head laying on her chest ear down. It was so sweet to acknowledge that a baby can still bond with its mother even in less than ideal situations. In those moments of us observing this child’s heart was being aligned with its mother’s heartbeat. That gave me hope for these children.

The program director said some of these moms have never held a baby or even changed their diapers yet here they were in the thick of it with no choice but to learn. In some small way I was overwhelmed with thankfulness that these babies were being raised right where they were. The moms were drug free,caring for their children,and growing to hopefully be able to raise these children in a healthy way. Once again only time will tell but these three years are giving them a chance.

You know what? We all were once in a prison. A prison of sin,ignorance,and defiance. Our drug of choice was pride and self satisfaction. We had no clue that our sugar daddy was really out to harm us. We didn’t know that the high we got was only temporary. There would be no escape in the end of our life. We were in sins prison without a hope and it was slowly destroying our lives.

It wasn’t until someone or some situation was like our cookie receiving opportunity. A message from the Lord was brought down and over time we could accept that we were loved. We could start the fight to regain our dignity. We could share our hurts and our past sin with our Heavenly Father. When our hearts had soften enough we could ask Jesus for help. He came and pled guilty for our crimes and just like that our chains were gone. Having received the Holy Spirit we could then go out into the world as if to do community service. No, not because we have to pay off our crimes but because we have been given so much that we want to serve our king and those that He loves.

Some of us might not know the real sorrow of being behind bars of a state prison however we do know what bondage feels like. The peace that come with total freedom is not something I’d want to try to withhold from someone. I think what Gospel Echoes and many other people do to bring self worth,salvation,and stability into the lives of a prisoner, is such a good thing. Not too long ago five years or so, I would of said that these people weren’t worth fighting for. I’m glad that long ago God convicted my heart that redemption is available for all. It’s not just for the seemingly squeaky clean people who get dressed up on Sunday, it’s for EVERYONE.

So maybe you’re reading this and find yourself in sins prison. I’d like for you to know that you can cry out to God at any time and He is there waiting for your call. It won’t be a golden ticket moment where you get everything you ever hoped for but it will start you on a journey of peace and salvation.

If you need a friend or simply someone to pray over you, please go to the question page on this blog and I’d be happy to pray for you.

May you find the love and salvation that can only come from the Lord!

Much love,

Pilgrim Nicci

Advertisements

Why I Deserve to Go to Hell but I Won’t

Are people generally good? Do people do the best that they can? I believe if you were to ask random people on the street they would say yes. I say no. Here is why. Genesis 3:6-13 depicts the fall of man and his response. Those of us that label ourselves affectionately Christians know the story like the back our hand. I’m not saying humans are not generally good because Adam and Eve fell,all though that is part of it. I would argue that it’s because of their response to that fall. Let’s take a slightly deeper look. They ate of the tree off knowledge of good and evil and their eyes were opened to their nakedness. Now here was their opportunity to fall before God and beg of His mercy but that’s not the choice they made. Instead in attempt to hide themselves they sewed fig leaves together. When God confronted them yet again there was the perfect opportunity to throw their hands up and confess their sins. Did they? No, Adam turned the blame from himself to not only Eve but God who created Eve. Oh dear Adam would you have played your cards differently if you would have known the ramifications of your actions? In my heart I would like to think so but I know better.

How do I know what Adam and Eve would of done if they knew the consequences? Simply put, I’ve been Adam and Eve before. I know the tragedy of realizing my sin even though I may have not known that I was sinning. I know the reality of choosing to sin willingly. I even know the pit in the stomach feeling of trying to cover up my sin. I know all to well that humans, specifically Nicci is not good.

Let me share a little bit of the reality of my sin with you. Now if you ask my mom or maybe even people that have known me fa while they may not know my inner heart or the depth of my sinful nature. I am not sharing this to make myself look bad or to bring glory to the person that I once was. I desperately want to call sin what it is and to share that there is redemption available. So let’s pick up when I was thirteen going on fourteen and then the early months of fifteen. I’d say I was the average middle school student. I was pretty innocent and I loved my parents. I was really excited to be going to a new school and moving to a new area,one close to my then best friend! The only thing not so normal about me was that my family was essentially homeless. We lived in a motel and would off and on for a long time. In some ways it was like an adventure and others it was drove me to try to fit in or to be as “good” as my peers.

Soon enough school was in full swing and I was making more friends. One day I got a note from my best friend that was from the guy we dubbed “the curly headed kid”. I didn’t know him but my friend and I would watch him and his mass amount of curly hair get on and off of the school bus each day. In this note was an invitation of sorts to our school dance. To say I was elated would be an understatement. I remember that night as if it happened yesterday. It was so fun and was nearly movie perfect. I could almost imagine the cast of high school musical break out in song at any moment. Yes, it is a fun and thrilling memory. Needless to say as time went on our relationship grew (as much as it can at age 13/14. I mean come on.) and we didn’t remain pure. Despite the fact him and his mom attended Church every Sunday and my mom would drop me off too. I had a desire to follow Jesus but had no clue how to do that. We were fairly active at that little local Methodist church. Unfortunately because of our impure relationship we often times were lying to our parents and that made me feel worse than the after effects of the sexual relationship did. I’d walk home knowing what I was engaging in was wrong. Slowly my time spent with this guy turned from fun or at the very least what I thought was normal to heartache and despair. We’d go to the local Dollar General and he’d steal stuff and I knew it. He’d get more rough with me and I’d start finding bruises on my body that happened while he was “teasing”. All these too big of emotions coupled with my teenaged hormones being out of wack caused me to cut…well what ever you call using a sharpened stick to harm yourself. I had no real desire to hurt myself but I knew tons of other girls did it and I read in my teen books of the angsty characters did it,so why shouldn’t I try? I felt sad and my boyfriend was no longer hurting me in private but now in public too! It all came crashing down one day when he kicked me into the other seat as I was getting off the bus. I retaliated and punched him back and called him a filthy name. The cops were called and of course I was the one to get reprimanded. The bus driver didn’t see what he had done only the punch I threw. Unfortunately I had deleted all of his possessive and hate texts because I was terrified of my mom seeing them. My whole life was one big mess and not a lot of people knew about it. I was dressing the part of a over sexualized teenager during the week and going to church on Sunday. My sin was monstrous and I deserved to go to hell.

“Sexy” expressions are what is displayed on nearly all of my pictures from that time

What we wear does change our actions

I’ve never typed that nor have I shared all the details of that time in my life. I suppose my mother knows more than most and I’m glad through it all she stood by my side.

So how does a filthy beaten down sinner escape hell? How does a person even begin to wash their dirty laundry in their past baggage? How do they lay their baggage down and walk away from it forever? Simply put,YOU don’t. Magnificently though God does! So although you,me,and lots of other nasty sinners have rotting past and there is no escape there is a savior! John 3:16 says For God so love the world (you/me) that He sent His only begotten son so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish ( go to hell) but have everlasting life! Isn’t that absolutely amazing news? Doesn’t that make you want to leap for joy? It does me. So Jesus in His time here in earth detailed how a person can inherit eternal life through His life,death,and resurrection. His overarching message was that the kingdom of God is at hand. He showed us very clearly that being in a relationship with Him was so much more than get out of hell free card. It had some requirements and some duties that we must fulfill. You know because after all we are not naturally good. We desperately needed Him to spell things out for us. You see once Jesus’s blood cleans a person all up and the Holy Spirit comes to make it’s abode in us the requirements of kingdom life really are not a burden. They are in fact a joy to carry out. Now I’m not going to lie and say they are easy because sometimes simple stuff like loving my neighbor is hard. That’s where His grace comes in. We won’t ever be perfect and we will have a free will and Jesus knows that. Through our repentance and patterning our lives after His, we will become His disciple. Day by day the gap between you and your past will grow so vast that it’s not possible to cross it to the person that you once were. That in my opinion is where the assurance of salvation is apparent. You no longer see yourself how Satan wanted you to be but rather how God see you! Trust me when I say that Satan will tell you that you are worthless and trash. That you will never be far away from the label of your sin. I’m here to tell you that yes sin is absolutely unacceptable in the eyes of God. It does make you wrenched and nasty. However the relationship you enter into as a baby Christian and journey through into disciple is a purifying process and NO ONE can stake their claim to your life except Jesus Christ!

This is the real me. The me that has JOY!

No,people are not good;but Jesus Christ is!

Much love,

Pilgrim Nicci