Last Tuesday, I was privileged to host a group of our women clients and friends for a day at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville. We spent that day with 40 women, many of whom have been incarcerated for many years. They are part of a program called Embark, offered in that prison by Kindway, a local Christian ministry. Embark is preparing these women for life on the outside, including spiritual formation, emotional healing, and increased readiness to reenter society. One of the hallmarks of the Embark program is partnering each of these women with a mentor (referred to in the program as a “navigator”), an outside volunteer that meets with that woman once a week for the first year after they are released. Embark also helps them find housing, a job, obtain a driver’s license, etc. A truly amazing program.
All of us that visited these women came away so inspired by the way they live their lives – most importantly the virtue of hope that they seem to possess in abundance.
How do women incarcerated for years as a result of very serious crimes live with hope? Three reasons I believe. First, they have found a new relationship with God, coming to understand that He loves them, forgives them and has beautiful plans for them. Second, the Embark program focuses on the deep spiritual and emotional healing that they need. And third, they know that upon release they will be assisted every step of the way by people that love them and will accompany them through that first year to make sure that every need is met and every obstacle is overcome.
We witnessed first hand that this hope they possess leads to gratitude and to joy – and those two qualities were palpable in that room.
How about all of us who are not incarcerated? Are we people of hope or do we look at the future with anxiety and worry? Perhaps it’s time that we embrace the formula for hope by seeing God as a loving father who cares for us and accompanies us in every trial and circumstance. Perhaps it’s time to invest in one another and be there for one another in the difficult times, accompanying those we love through the challenges they face. And perhaps it’s time that we cultivate real gratitude in our lives on a daily basis. The result will be joy and a peace that passes all understanding.
Let’s be people of hope – it will lead us to a great life – a life of purpose, gratitude and joy! Have a wonderful weekend.
Written by Matt Palmer, Partner & Co-Founder