I lead a small group at NCCIW maximum security prison. On the first day of class, she walked into my circle. To be honest, I was a little intimidated by her looks. She was rough looking and un-kept. The front pocket of her state-issued khaki shirt was bulging with stuff. Signs of a rough life seemed to be part of her persona. I knew from her registration card that she was in for life. I watched her have an encounter with a prison official when she walked in the door and she was angry. I mean, really angry. No smile. No excitement to be sitting in the circle. Yet, I was very drawn to her.
The next month nothing changed. She walked into the circle angry again. I checked to see if she did her homework and was surprised. Her pages looked like those of a veteran studier. They were filled from top to bottom with extensive work that showed she had spent much time and effort in her study. She quickly quoted her memory verses perfectly. I told her what a great job she had done and I saw a hint of a smile.
November comes and she walks in angry again. Once again, I saw the encounter. To be honest, I understood and sympathized with her anger. I would have been angry too. I looked at her as she began to share her anger and I simply said, “Let it go”. It was the last time I saw the anger. As the months rolled around, I had the privilege of watching God work. There was a depth to her study that I didn’t see in the other ladies in my group. Her applications were strong, vulnerable, and real. She would say, “I have a problem with anger, but this week when confronted, I chose to be quiet.” “I have a problem with my mouth. I am not kind. I don’t say kind things. This week I chose to respond with kindness rather than anger.”
September through May I watched God change her. She worked hard on her study, memorized all of the Proverbs 31 Woman passage. She smiled when she came into the group. The lady who intimated me on the first day quickly stole my heart and as I write about her, I realize, I miss her. I look forward to seeing her in September.
I am so grateful to God for giving me this picture of transformation. Not so I can boast of what I am doing in the prison, but because I have a picture of what He will do in my life if I chose to apply His Word to my circumstances, sin, failures, weaknesses, and fears. He is the God of Change.