Sana Jain: What It’s Like to Belong Yet Sometimes Feel Like a Stray

by Jennifer Haynie @JenniferHaynie1

Blogger’s Note: This post begins a series where I introduce the characters for my new novel, Operation Music Man, which will be available on April 6. First, we hear from Sana Jain, the protagonist of the novel.

Rebel. That’s the first word I’d use to describe myself. It fit my life before I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. But then there’s a second word. Stray. Okay, I have to admit, I haven’t used that word in a long time. Not when the former Shadow Box team has become my community.

We all live at Last Chance Ranch, a ranch that’s a little northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. We’re eight people strong. Vic, Butch, Fiona, Skylar, Shelly, Diana, and Suleiman, who I’m marrying in June. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve trained together, nearly died together. That bonds us tightly, and we’ve formed a solid community. I love this sense of belonging. It’s not something I’ve always had, and I don’t take it for granted.

If you’ve read Operation Shadow Box and Operation Peacemaker, then you know my story. I’m a former cat burglar and yes, I spent time in the pen for my crime. Things happened before that which caused my rebellion. I truly don’t want to go into it. Instead, I’ll just say that while Jesus saved me, that didn’t mean that everything was honky-dory after that.

I got released so suddenly from prison. I hadn’t planned on it. Truly, I hadn’t. But it happened, and I wasn’t going to take an early release for granted. Fortunately, God provided for me in a big way. Again, it’s not something I really want to discuss, but let’s just say that He did.

Then, when I got the invitation to join Shadow Box, I couldn’t pass it up. Nope. No way would I because it meant feeling fulfilled and not having to worry about living paycheck to paycheck. The huge payout I got from the Peacemaker mission further ensured my financial security.

That doesn’t mean that life is all good. I still struggle. My parents all but disowned me after I went to jail. I’m not sure if I blame them for that. I’m very ashamed of what led me to prison. I also have a hard time talking about those three or so years after I got out of prison.

Time will tell if it’s relevant. In the meantime, I have other things to focus on, like wedding Suleiman in June. If only that nagging feeling about my past would leave me alone.

Question: When was a time where you felt the greatest sense of belonging?

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