Prisons in My Mind

By Sharon Swing

Photo Credit: Cole Patrick on Unsplash

By Sharon Swing

I visited a 'Listen to My Life’ group in a prison led by one of our amazing 'Listen to My Life' facilitators, Linda Heaner, volunteering with Prison Fellowship.  Having engaged in all eight maps of 'Listen to My Life’, the group was asked to repeat the first map, ‘My Life Now.’

The focus of that map is the ‘Lingering Question’ that prompts a reflection on what question reoccurs, consciously or subconsciously in one’s life right now.  Some think of it as a question we would ask God about our life at this time, or a question that reflects our deep desires.

Being prisoners, I wondered if repeating this map would be a bit cruel, given that these women were still incarcerated.

In the listening group to which I was assigned, a woman contrasted the lingering question from her first ‘My Life Now’ map to her second.

“When I started this process, I was kicking and screaming at the walls around here,” she explained.  “I was on anti-anxiety medication, and I was depressed.  My first lingering question was, ‘Can I endure this?’  Now, I’m feeling calm.  I think I’m happy for the first time in my life. My new lingering question is ‘How much good can I do today?’”

Struck by the beauty of the inner change she had experienced, tears rolled down my cheeks.  She looked at me, a bit surprised, and said, “I made you cry!”

Ignoring the Listening Guidelines, I responded, “That is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.”

Clearly puzzled, she asked, “Why?”

Gaining my composure, I responded, “Because I know a lot of people ‘out there’ that are not as free as you are here in prison.”

I thought to myself, “How many prisons have I erected in my own mind?”

So, for you, what prisons have you erected in your own mind that keep you stuck, restless, deeply annoyed or depressed?

Might you ask God for a new, curious question that might lead you toward more freedom, releasing more joy, more love, or more peace for yourself and the people around you?

I’m interested in your reaction and response to this story.  What came to mind for you?  Will you leave a comment below to join the conversation?



“He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to those who are bound.”

Isaiah 61:1 WEB

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