Crystal is a friend I met in jail a year ago. She is beautiful and her countenance exudes joy despite the pain she has experienced. She was first exploited by a parent and sold for sex to a drug dealer at the young age of 10. When you glance at her criminal history it all starts to make sense when life starts out without the care and protection we should all be afforded as children. Despite her years on the streets, spout with prostitution and substance addiction, she is thriving! She is hopeful and trusts in the goodness of God and leans on scripture in a way that puts me to shame. She wants a different life for herself and her son and is determined to see that happen, even if its not able to happen right now. She is trusting in God’s perfect timing and I can’t wait to hug her neck the day she gets out of prison and see where God takes our friendship in the years to come.
At my last visit with Crystal was in good spirits despite her pending sentence of 18 years. She leaves the county jail Tuesday to go to prison. She's not sure which one she will be transferred to quite yet, but promises to write once she gets there. Crystal’s son Brandon has been living with a wonderful couple. The wife does prison outreach and her husband is a pastor, but they recently had to tell Crystal that they can no longer keep her son due to her lengthy sentence. As a result Brandon will have to move in with Crystal’s brother, who already has custody of her other kids. She is nervous he will try to take full custody, because she truly wants to parent Brandon and be his mom. She feels like with time served + good behavior she could get out in 4-5 years, because on her last 15 year sentence she only served 3 years. I hope it is true.
When I visit her in jail we joke and dream about her joining the NET staff when she's out. I would love for that dream to become a reality once she's out and healthy. She will go to SAFP at the end of her sentence, which is a treatment center. This is a decision she made and asked the judge for, which impressed him. Most inmates are just itching to get back out on the streets, but Crystal is whole-heartedly committed to a new life and wants to be transformed for the long haul. Then she still wants in our program, Rise after that. Lord willing she will be! Even if it is 4 years from now. She wants to write a book so one day she can tell her story of redemption. She also mentioned not being able to type, so I told her she HAD to learn how to type during her few years in prison so she can finish school and her her book published. She is going to try and take a few college courses while there and already applied for her FAFSA. Crystal is like a close friend to me. Truly. We laugh, cry, and pray at every meeting. She is one of my actual favorite humans and I long for the day we can get coffee at Brewed and joke and be best friends. I struggle to understand why God chose for her to go to prison instead of Rise, but I am thankful to know her and I trust Him. She wants me to send her a pic of baby Ice when she's born so she can make a portrait of her. Crystal is an incredible artist. She also asked for my nursery colors so she could make a drawing for that as well. I told her it was “moroccan themed” and she said "huh" and looked confused and then we both busted out laughing. Sometimes, despite how close we feel, we just laugh at our obvious cultural differences. We said long goodbyes and held our hands to the glass and then finally we both left. I usually spend the elevator ride down fighting back tears when I leave my time with Crystal, but this time I just smiled. She's in God's hands now and I can only hope and pray for her future and the future of our friendship. That Jesus will take care of his daughter as he promises to do.