Sunday, April 22, 2012

My Time in Prison

About a month ago, I had one of the most special experiences EVER, and I don't know why I forgot to share it here, but now MUST be the time. 
After Time Out for Women, I was on a Spiritual high. I was happy, I was also working on the whole forgiveness thing, but things were about to get MORE Spiritual, and MORE emotional. I was invited to go to the Women's prison for a special fireside put on by one of my good friends. She was going to share her personal story with these women about her journey from prison bars to temple walls. 
I have to admit, when I first volunteered to go to the prison, read through their list of rules and filled out the papers, I was SO nervous. What kind of place was I going to? Were the women going to bully me? Were they all scary looking, covered in tattoos with piercings and short spiky hair? What was I getting myself into?
All of those emotions left me as we pulled into the parking lot. 
I was more excited to hear my friend's amazing story, and help support HER. She was so nervous, and who could blame her, really? She was reliving all of those emotions she'd had when she had gone to prison the first time. We reassured her that this time she would be able to leave WITH us, and that she was there to inspire those women. She was doing a good thing, and we would be with her 100%. 
We walked through the metal detectors, got scanned, then waited to be let inside. We walked the blue line to the gym to find that some inmates had set up the chairs, ready for our arrival. My friend asked us (my friends J and D) to sit on the front row, right where she could see us, then began one of the most precious, amazing things I had ever attended. Before my friend spoke, we got to shake hands with some of the women. It was against the rules to hug or give them items, so a friendly smile and handshake were ALL that we could offer. Many women looked just like anyone else I would meet. Neatly combed hair, beautiful eyes....the only difference was that these women were wearing jumpsuits. 
As my friend told of her story and the miracle that is the Atonement of Christ, I felt the spirit of these women. THEY were the ones who were humble and teachable. They were amazing to behold. 
After my friend spoke, the women were allowed to share their testimonies or experiences. I didn't have enough tissues to wipe the tears that were shed. These women now felt hope and strength that someone had been where they are, and came out on the other side with hope and happiness. 
I learned a lot about judging others. I learned that we are truly all children of God. That he loves us all unconditionally. He wants ALL of us to repent and return to live with Him. There is hope for all of us, those with big, red, ugly sins, and those who only have the red kind. He truly will forgive us all, and loves all of us. 
A month later I barely remember the names of the women we met. I don't remember much of the words that were said, but the ONE thing that has stuck with me is the feeling of being in the presence of angels. Angels in jumpsuits, who are just trying to do what we all do....fix our mistakes, and move on. Their faces and spirit will FOREVER be apart of my life. I'm SO grateful for them, and their acceptance of someone so judgmental and imperfect.


Deanna said...

how did I miss writing about this?! Thanks so much for putting it down on 'paper'. :) This experience was truly amazing. I love it. And I love that I got to share it with such amazing women!!!

Dawnyel said...

I know....I can't believe I spaced it either! :P