Every time I participate in Kairos, I am reminded of this truth: people are people. Yes, I am intentionally stating the obvious. Those convicted of crimes, our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends, our family, our co-sympathizers from any given organization – we are all different, but, in so many ways we are the same.
There are two times during the Kairos weekend when participants and team offer one line prayers. The first time we are asking for forgiveness. Here are examples of the prayers I heard lifted to heaven:
- Lord, forgive me for not being the best mother to my kids
- Forgive me for my pride
- Forgive me for not realizing how much you love me
- Forgive me for being stubborn
- Forgive me for being unforgiving of others
Then, later, the women (again, both participants and team) give one line prayers of thanksgiving. These sound something like this:
- Lord, thank you for never giving up on me
- Thank you for hope
- Thank you for putting a hedge of protection around my children
- Thank you for forgiving me
- Thank you for second chances
Those are not direct quotes for a variety of reasons, but, you get the gist. Here is my question – can you distinguish which ones of the prayers above were from female inmates at a correctional facility versus a team of volunteers? I was there, and I could not.
The women in prison deal with the same issues that all of us do. Sometimes, the magnitude of the challenges seems insurmountable:
- Loss – of a parent, child, or significant other
- Abuse – mental, physical, sexual
- Phobias – of failing, of succeeding
- Lack of forgiveness – for self, for others
- Self-pity or self-deprecation
- Believing the lies… I am not worthy; I always mess up; I will never get it right
Kairos points people (inmates and volunteers) to the Source. I am no longer as surprised when someone gives their heart to Jesus after practicing another religion or after being away from God for many years, but, I still recognize (praying I never take this for granted) the privilege, the power of witnessing a woman transform from self-loathing to self-loving. Please know, I am not talking about someone filling her heart with some type of super-ego. Rather, I love seeing women understand and know with certainty: She is (I am) fearfully and wonderfully made. Her (my) life has a purpose. She (I) can embrace Hope! Hope exists. Hope resides at the intersection of truth and compassion. It is in this place where I feel like I’m standing on holy ground. The experience stirs my soul and moves me to tears – without exception.
If you would like to join me or learn more about the various Kairos programs, please just ask. Honestly, it is one of my favorite topics!