From Shame to Surrender

18 12 2010

Editor’s note: Tammie Wirt’s testimony explains that her pain started early, losing her father when she was an infant and being abused as a child. A series of decisions led her to addiction, violence, and crime before reaching adulthood. She first was incarcerated as a young adult and spent several years in and out of jail. During her detention in Jay, Oklahoma, she was offered sanctuary through Community of Christ jail ministers Bonnie Scarberry and Barbara Hardesty. Following is part of Tammie’s story, in her words:

BY TAMMIE WIRT, McCloud, Oklahoma, USA

So I finally got caught in Jay, Oklahoma. Went to the Delaware County Jail. Was arrested for kidnapping, forgery, bail jumping, domestic abuse, bogus checks. I remember going for arraignment, feeling sick, knowing I was going back to prison again, but this time was a lot more serious. …Don’t even remember doing the crime because I was truly addicted to cocaine.

I remember all these girls would talk about Barb and Bonnie and how wonderful they were. I got sick of hearing this. I had already moved into a padded cell alone just as I wanted to be. Also didn’t want to talk or anyone talking to me.

So one day Bonnie came busting through the pod door, singing and laughing, praising the Lord. I put my mat and towel over my door, trying to block the noise. But I could not block her out completely.

So I found a name for her: “The loud, high-spirited, you know what.” I hated the day they were coming. But, after several weeks of the ladies asking and praying for me and showing me love, I started to open my door, little by little. Then I finally would go to church. But I wouldn’t share or say much. Didn’t even know really how to pray or anything about the Bible.

Then one day Bonnie wanted to give me a hug. Didn’t want to be shown any love. That was a sign of weakness to me. But I did hug her, and I even prayed with her. This continued for months. Everyone praying for me. I was too emotionally sick to pray or to ask for anything. Mostly ashamed of myself. Couldn’t even look at myself. I wanted to die. Remember begging someone to please let me die.

Then one afternoon the jailer called me out to talk to my attorney. She said the D.A. offered me 80 years. I laughed and said, “That’s all? Tell them to let me think about it.” So this went on about seven months. I continue going to church during all this. Trying to remember what happened. Was beginning to have a little bit more understanding about the Lord and was able to let go of my anger issues little by little.

Then one day a lady [Terry Robison] came from Missouri with Barb and Bonnie and told her story. It really touched my heart. I remember crying and praying for the first time ever. It was very touching, and I didn’t even understand. Didn’t want to. I was ashamed again for being weak. So when they left I really cried, alone in my cell.

…I found myself on the floor asking the Lord to please help me and make me a human again instead of an animal. I was out of control.

I found myself wanting Barb and Bonnie to hurry up and come. So the next [visit] I ask Bonnie to pray for me and with me. I wanted to invite the Lord to walk with me and help me and make me whole again.
So when I went to court the witness didn’t show up, and all charges were dropped except one, the forgery. Was sentenced to seven years: four in, three out.

[Tammie was transferred from jail to a prison. She kept going to church.]

The root had been planted. My family started to talk to me and was believing in me again. I started to feel like I was alive inside and could look at the person in the mirror. I could laugh. It was truly a new experience for me to be able to feel I could cry. I don’t remember ever being able to ever validate my feelings. I always suppressed the way I felt.

But today, even being locked-down in a maximum-security prison, I’m not really locked down. I feel more better inside because my heart is pure and I know I’ve found security and peace within only because my sisters in Christ believed in me when I never knew how it felt to have Jesus to come into your life. Until Bonnie asked one day. The Lord wants to come into your heart. Why don’t you ask him to do so? So I did. Life is much better. So why not ask him? Just lay down and surrender after all. What do you have to lose?



2 responses

19 12 2010
Leigh Anne

Hearing a testimony like this fills my soul with joy. May God bless you very deeply!

18 12 2010
Marvin Kleinau

I don’t know how to relate to someone capable of killing someone but I can certainly relate to those who have fed their sinful nature by stealing or cheating or some of the the crimes in this piece.
I have visited with those folks in prison and I have corresponded with one extensively. I have felt more pain and a greater degree of repentance from those caught and put behind bars, that I have ever observed from those roaming our communities. (The enemy is us) Somehow I wish we could do a Scrooge things or a prison thing with each and every one of us so that we might seek God in an urgent and sincere way.

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