(Note: Today, we begin a new series of posts. Once a week, we will hear from one of our friends in maximum security prison. These women were students of mine in one of two classes I taught – Disciplines for Christian Living and Faith and Culture – at the Tennessee Prison for Women. They are part of the Lipscomb LIFE program, an educational program that enables women who are admitted to earn an associate of arts degree in seven years. Our author today is Donna, a lovely woman who has an amazing heart for the Lord.)
I am a 58-year old African American. I’ve been homeless, without a permanent residence for twenty-one years. I’ve had to redefine home in an effort to redress personal identity that is normally developed in the notion of home (sweet home). I am currently ‘in residence’ at TPFW (Tennessee Prison for Women). I have very little contact with my family of birth and it’s most often initiated by me. These facts are just the facts. They should not elicit pity, sympathy, or any -athy. My years being homeless were 1995-1997. It was tragic. I felt invisible, incredible rejection. I was without identity. I knew who I had been – a mom, a supervisor, a lover, a friend. My home had reflected those I loved, those who had given me my belief system. “3 hots and a cot” (i.e., prison) was very appealing. “3 hots” was a means to end fear – fear of people recognizing you, raping you, reprimands… fear. Even with this safety, I didn’t set out to end in prison. Yet my choice to drink and do drugs broke community. Without community, a person becomes an animal.
Home is now not a place but a destiny. Each step on my journey leads me homeward to the place in which my heart will be satisfied.
Read on as Donna shares more about her life and walk with Christ in her next blog: Donna’s Story, Part Two