Let nothing move you.
Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord
because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
[I Corinthians 15:58]
This week, I committed to spending concentrated time in prayer and reading my Bible. On Friday, I will be visiting Sweet Mama in prison for the first time. The closest I've ever been to prison is a juvenile detention center that I used to visit to lead a young women's bible study. I don't expect this visit to be anything like that.
Given her security level, we will be able to speak face to face, but the list of visiting rules is long. I got the shakes reading them because...well... I am a rule follower and will certainly forget that hand touching isn't allowed when tears are trailing her cheeks.
Recently, I gave Sweet Mama my phone number and accepted her call for the first time a few days ago. I happened to be putting Edie to bed, so I switched the phone to speaker when we picked up. As soon as I said, "hello", I could hear the longing in her voice. She is desperate for friendship and desires so much more than I can give. Edie assumed it was Ben on the other side and, immediately, started chatting about her favorite jammies and snuggling her bunny.
I heard the awe before she broke to tears, "Is that...?"
"Yes! We're both, here. I was just putting Edie to bed." I tried to keep it light, "Isn't she a little chatter box?"
Sweet Mama only muffled sniffs. I let Edie talk and listened to Mama cry.
Before our time ran out, I told her that I would be visiting on Friday. The phone went dead before we could say goodbye.
The weight in my heart is not loaded by guilt or charity, but rather genuine compassion. The only difference between the two of us are the families we were born to. Without radical intervention, she doesn't have a fighting chance for a better life. Her world is too narrow and bound by love for a man that has brought her to ruin.
I fill pages with Truth and encourage her to think big, yet her only dream is to "get out" and find him.
My commitment to prayer, this week, is in effort to squash the natural negatives that flow through my heart and to remember that love always hopes. Every time. In every situation.
Most of my nerves stem from the questions I know are coming. For weeks, Mama has been telling me that she has a few important "things" to discuss with me, but that she must do it in person.
I trust that God will give me the answers when needed, but Ben and I have been discussing one question at length. I am certain she will ask if she can see her kids, again. In prison or otherwise.
I am concerned for her heart after I share mine. Although my kindness may point to wide-open rainbows and ever-after castles of friendship, I am also a protective mama. And happen to be raising traumatized babies. Genuinely, my hope is that one day she and Cisco will both be in healthy, secure places, where a meaningful relationship can really blossom. But we're not there, today.
After two years, we have finally tipped the scale in the slightest margin and are starting to see real victories with Cisco. Every week, I see new slivers of trust that allow him to inch his toes across the attachment line. I DREAM of the day, he jumps that divider and runs full force into our love.
Mingling his fragile heart and Sweet Mama's irregular stability is a disaster that we're not willing to risk. And I know that will break her heart.
I have also discerned an important perception through her last several letters. Sweet Mama questions God for the atrocities she's faced and hates that drugs ravaged her life. But sadly, her reflections are self-focused. She doesn't make the connection that drugs didn't just alter HER life, but nearly broke three little spirits, too.
My prayer is that I will be able to share difficult truth with her, even though it will be painful to deliver and hear. If she doesn't make the connection between her choices and her kids' sacrifices, she might not ever break the cycle.
Friends, pray for me.
I am desperate for wisdom as the light and darkness of our worlds are about to collide.