I am sitting in a room that has no windows. Well I guess there are windows on one wall, but they just look out into the next room, which has no windows. In this room you don’t know if it’s night or day. You can’t tell what time it is because there is nothing on the walls, not even a clock. The only furniture in the room are plastic chairs.
Seated in a semi-circle in front of me are 10 women. I’m guessing that their ages are from 18 – 50ish. It’s hard to tell. Many of them look like they have lived hard years. I am to mentor these women as part of a re-entry program. When I was asked if I wanted to volunteer my first question was what did I have to offer? The sergeant told me I could teach/share anything. I could help them learn about how to write a resume, balance a checkbook, or write a paragraph.
None of those options appealed to me. I thought maybe I had something else to share. Maybe some of my life experiences and the lessons I have learned might help them see that things could be better, things could be different, and that there was hope.
There is silence in the room. How do I start? I have never done anything like this before. I decide to have them state their name, how old they are, and if they have any children. Their answers surprise me. Most of them are very young and have at LEAST 3 children. Many are sporting tattoos and several are missing front teeth. Their crimes range from theft, drugs/alcohol, to assault, and non-payment of child support.
Then it was my turn to share a bit about me. I wanted to impress them so I started out telling them I am an author. I should have told them I’m a famous author, I figured they don’t read much, how would they know. Because I am human I had already made assumptions about these women. I assumed they didn’t read. I assumed that they didn’t care about their children. I assumed that they didn’t have feelings or if they did have some they would never show them. And my biggest assumption was that they were in no way anything like me.
After all these assumptions you might think that I would have been exhausted, but I was not. I am not proud of this, but I had made them in an instant, without any effort, without even knowing anything about them. I had prejudged them. Shame on me.
I am looking forward to learning more about these women, and in doing so, perhaps I’ll learn more about myself. I love the roads that God takes me down. They may not always make me happy, but they ALWAYS have something for me to learn. So hang with me and maybe you can learn something too.