"Why are you here?" One of woman cocked her head and stared me down.
"Because you are people who deserved to be loved." I looked into her eyes and saw a hurting, broken woman.
"Oh." She pulled her feet onto the chair and hugged her knees.
To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing. What do you say to women who are waiting on court for a judge to dictate the next few months or years of their lives? What do you say to women bound by addictions and family shame? How do you talk about life with women who have no hope? They do not believe that you're not getting anything out of being there. They say, "you wouldn't imagine," their life, their mistakes, their pain. And, they're right.
I knew the truth and power of the gospel, and I knew that if any of these women found the grace of God that day, it wasn't because of me. I didn't save anyone today, but five women accepted Jesus as their Savoir and Redeemer or rededicated their life to Him. I got to hear their prayers to God, the pain they wanted Him to heal, the future they hoped He'd bring.
God did put women in my group who were addicted to drugs or involved with prostitution, and I still don't know what I would have said if He had. But, I was overwhelmed with the stories of the women He brought to me. In the midst of a room of women, whom many were my age, I found I related in a way I never could have imagined.
All three of the women in my afternoon group explained the hurt they had felt from their families. One felt rejection and shame because of mistakes. She wanted to feel their love again. One was physically and emotionally abused by her mom. All she wanted was a mended relationship, not to get out of it. Another explained that her family lived hours away and no one had come to visit. Her children were hurting because she let anger control her actions. A common thread appeared: all these women wanted to love their families who did not love them back. They all seemed to realize that family was important no matter what.
I remember feeling overwhelmed by the realization that I knew what to say. I could explain that it is possible to love people, even family, who do not love you because that's exactly what God does for us. When you understand that God does not base His love for us by how much we love Him, you become in awe of His might all the more.