Post image for Incarcerated – Part 6

Incarcerated – Part 6

by DanWolgemuth on June 7, 2019

I’m not sure when I realized it… most likely in the morning of our second day. Perhaps it was birthed from the realization that we had a photo crew doing their best to chronicle the incarceration experience as accurately and authentically as possible, but at some point it dawned on me. No mirrors. But then again, there were no brushes or combs either.

Cement walls. Brushed metal toilet and sink. But no mirror.

It was this reality that invited more personal reflection instead of an image reflection. Less about, “How do I look?” and more about, “What’s going on in my soul?”

“Looking good.” It’s what our culture applauds and “likes.”

Selfies define our persona.

But not in a Juvenile Detention Center. And the byproduct is multifaceted. I found myself much less distracted. I looked deeply at the young men I talked with. Their eyes became windows. And it was their expressions that became my mirror. Am I connecting? Is there engagement and response?

But more importantly, I came to realize that I was a mirror to the 13 and 14 and 15 year olds that I was building a rapport with. When they looked into my eyes, what did they see? When they studied my reaction to them, what image flashed back?

What did these young men learn about themselves by looking in my face?

Was it fear or disdain or judgment that they felt from me? Was it condemnation?

When a woman who had been married five times and was living with a man that wasn’t her husband looked into the face of Jesus, what reflection did she see? She knew, like every Samaritan knew, the Jews see through the lens of prejudice when they look at Samaritans. But not Jesus. He didn’t brush aside her sin, He washed it clean with grace.

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” (John 4:29, ESV)

Come see a man… I looked at him and it was a mirror. But it was a grace-covered mirror.

When I looked at KB. When I talked with him about his life. When I asked him about his family, his friends, his neighborhood… did he feel safe? Did he see himself as cared for? Did he see himself as valued? Did he see himself with dignity?

I can still visualize his eyes. His face.

I wonder if he can still see mine?

Mirrors. We are all mirrors.

Beauty for brokenness. Hope for despair.

This is the message of Jesus.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21, ESV)

Our sin on Jesus. His righteousness on us. This is why we fix our eyes on Jesus… our ultimate and only mirror.

I pray this is who they saw when they looked in my eyes.

Mirrors in prison. A reflection of a living hope.

This changes every encounter.

An Epilogue to follow…

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