September 19, 2012

I Am No Longer Safe

Since I started working with juvenile inmates I find that I am no longer safe. I’ve passed my phone number out. I’ve opened my home. I’ve driven former inmate’s places. I am surrounded by drug addicts, thieves, convicted felons, habitual liars, cheaters, manipulators, violent offenders, victims and perpetrators.
I am no longer safe.

I am fearful for my life.

Not my physical life.


I am fearful of losing my existence.


My existence has consisted of raising children in the suburbs. Sending them to private Christian education from preschool through high school and one is in a Christian college. My husband and I have spent years creating a safe environment. We are protectors. There’s nothing wrong with that.
My safe life is colliding violently with a world I have been shielded from and have shielded my family from. As they rub up against each other friction creates tension.
What’s the friction?
Learning that injured people are dealt with differently depending on their address. In my white suburbs if you are jumped by a pack of people you call the police and seek immediate medical attention. Which actually happened to my husband years ago in a different state. However, down the street, a beaten man calls his cousin to pick him up and goes on with life. His medical attention consists of a few shots of alcohol to take the pain away. There’s no money. There are no questions. This is the way through.
I find that drug addicts are well…addicted. They give up children for the thing that gives them temporary relief. They call people and ask for money. They steal to get what they don’t have. Yet, God loves them as deeply as He loves me.
There is a whole segment of society that are victims of the society.
And perpetrators of it as well.
I used to pass by the homeless man on the street corner when I drove through the city. Now I work with young men who have no where to go upon their release.
So why am I no longer safe?


My white suburban protected existence works only in a white suburban protected existence.
My ways are not their ways.
To reach them, I must operate in a new skin. Which means I choose to lay aside my judgments of how things are done “right” and pick up what looks completely barbaric and call that “good.”
As I write, I see Jesus doing the same with us. For the first time I have a sliver of understanding about how His way is not our way! I see dimly how Jesus laid aside his rights to pick up mans barbaric ways.
I find that the safe existence I deliberately created day by day is no longer protected. In fact it is getting toppled over one brick at a time. I don’t know what will be left once the fortress is completely demolished.
During the demolition I feel utterly raw and exposed. But THAT’S it! THAT’S the spot for “them” as well. As my world collides with the inmate’s world they too feel raw and exposed. They wrestle with the Truth that God loves them. He forgives them. He welcomes them. And wants to help them rebuild a new life based on a new foundation.
See there’s no difference between me and the inmate. We both have the opportunity to lose our life.


Will we?

Will you?