Friday, August 27, 2010

I declare WAR on "special unspokens"!!!!!!!!!

I'll never let a friend get away with asking for a "special unspoken" prayer request again.  Some life lessons are much harder to learn than others.

Years ago, through Pastoring Partners Network, I became friends with a wonderful pastor's wife named Deborah.   She hails from South Africa and we quickly became kindred spirits, loving many of the same things including high heels, leopard prints, the color pink and most of all, a love for Jesus and serving His people.  This past February I came home from the church office one day to find a package in the mailbox and seeing that it was from South Africa, could hardly wait to tear it open!  Inside were earrings, a necklace, some african tea, and an animal print scarf she said, "had my name all over it".  I blogged about that day here.

She planned on meeting up with me on my preaching trip to East Africa in June.  When I declared on facebook that I had my final sermon ready for the Kenya conference, she facebooked me in her usual style saying, "Africa is ready for you, dolla..."  (Dolla was her special name she called all of us who were in relationship with her -- Pastor Lisa, Pastor Tara, Pastor Debbie, Pastor Melissa -- these are the ladies in my circle of friends who also had a special place in Deborah's heart and vice versa.)  Always ready with a word of encouragement, even her blog was called, "Deborah's Encouragement."  She was always ready with a word of life, a word of wisdom, and had a heart as big as all outdoors.  She declared her vision to be the following:  "My heart is to see women restored to the beauty God intended them to be, taking them from Cinderella to the queen of their home."  

She was planning on coming to the Unstoppable Conference (that I host here in Tampa) this upcoming year.  She had also had just asked Pastor Lisa if she could come and spend some time with her in Houston.  

Over the years I (along with others) prayed for Deborah for needs in her life that were like that of any of the rest of us.  We prayed about our children, our church situations, and stuff like that.   But several times in the past year she gave me some "special unspoken's"... "Deanna, just pray.  I'm desperate.  I can't get into it...can't share the details, just please lift me up for a breakthrough."  I always respected that like I have any other friend who has told me the same thing. 

A friend delivered the horrifying news that Deborah had passed on to heaven...it was a murder/suicide at the hands of her husband.  She leaves behind three beautiful children, a son in law, and a grandchild who are reeling from the shock and trying to understand something that quite truthfully none of us will ever understand.

I just wonder...what were those "special unspoken's" about?  When she pleaded for prayer but gave no details, should I have prodded a little further to make sure my friend was okay?  I had no reason to think she was not.  She often referred to her "handsome prince" (her husband) who had stolen her heart.   None of us had a reason to believe it wasn't as she said.  Just goes to show, we never really know the private anguish some people are in.  Yes, even MINISTERS.

Sometimes people put one liners on social media that can be a bigger cry for help than we realize.  A while back one of Deborah's statuses on facebook was, "They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  But it still stings."  I sat and read through every one of her statuses last night, and tried to make sense of them.  I know...sin doesn't make sense.  (When a person is dealing with sinful actions of others it will never make sense because Satan is the author of confusion and nothing people do in sin ever makes sense.)

Going through and reading all of her old blog posts again last night I noticed a recent one where she spoke of her marriage and said, "We have been through some tough times together and this year has pushed so many boundaries..."   I sat there asking, "okay, what exactly did she mean by that?"   Again, there I went trying to make sense of the senseless.  I never saw that as a cry for help or anything different than what the rest of us have faced, but now I wish I would have asked.  She spoke often of honoring him as her "head and priest."   The more I read the sicker I got.  The further back I went the more questions I had, and no answers were in sight.  Those who have talked to Deborah's family have said that no explanation or further details have been given so we are left to read what she left behind to try to make sense of it all though it's not working.

While the last thing I want to do is harm a friend or make them uncomfortable, no longer am I going to be content to let a "special unspoken" go by unquestioned when it's a one on one scenario.  My friend Sue Flint who heads up our Aprile's Hope ministry at Celebration Church told me last night, she doesn't let an unspoken request slide by without question when it's one one one and always asks further questions to clarify and make sure the person is safe .  I know better now.

My friend  Kathryn has taught me to "look for the gift" in every situation.  This is a horrific situation that I struggle to find any good in except the fact that I do know where Deborah is right now.  And, upon reflection here are some things I've learned from this that I trust will become a gift to my life and others:

  • Friends in ministry will be even more of a priority.  They are already a priority, but now become even more so. I was under the dryer at the hairdressers when Pastor Lisa called me to ask what happened to Deborah.  I saw it was her on the caller ID and picked up while under the dryer because it was that important.  I'll never forget the scream that came out of Lisa when I told her the details.  It was surreal.  Dear Jesus, this is such a painful thing for all of us.  We have cried a pile of tears since we received the news.  I needed to be there for my friend.  My hair could wait a few more minutes.
  • The minutia of ministry keeps us apart too much. I'll make more time for all those lunches and coffees we keep talking about no matter how many  hours a week I'm working.  
  • I'll tell people I love them more.  I tell them all the time but somehow I realized, it's still not enough.
  • "Special Unspokens" could be a cover for something in a friend's life that we should be involved in helping them work through.  Then again, they might not be, but let's not take a chance!  Better safe than sorry.   No matter what a friend's life looks like on the outside and how many deep talks we've had on other matters, if they give me a "special unspoken" I will say, "Are you SURE you're okay?"  "Does this involve ANY possible danger?"  or "Do you think you could just give me a one or two word topic this request concerns so I can pray more specifically?"  And, "No matter WHAT this request might concern, please know I will not divulge it, but I want to assure your safety...I must ensure that you are not in danger, because I love you."
  • I will get involved if I sense a friend needs me to do that.  I won't shy away because it's a "private family matter."  How many times have you known people who won't get involved because they are friends with both a husband/wife?  Well, what if their LIFE depends on it??!   Our discomfort in "going there" should be outweighed by the value of a friend's life.  GO THERE!  And if you are a pastor of a church, please GO THERE! Who cares if it's someone in leadership, someone influential, someone you "can't imagine would ever do anything dangerous..."  GO THERE!  Don't downplay it.  Get involved.  Early.  While you still can! Even if you don't live near them you can get involved -- the world is a smaller place than ever through the power of technology.        
Dolla, you will never be forgotten. Though you are in heaven, your mission is continued on earth as your sisters in ministry carry on in "seeing every woman restored to the beauty God intended, taking them from Cinderella to the queen of their home."   We love you, sweet friend, and that will NEVER change, and no one can take that away from you or from us.

 Deborah
1969-2010
From Cinderella...to Queen of her Heavenly Home!

7 comments:

Pastor Lisa said...

I cried all over again. And I commit to do the same. No "special unspoken's" for those truly close to my heart. And I'll even probe a bit with those at altar time.

Ruth said...

Oh Deanna, my heart is just breaking for you and your dear friends who knew Deborah. Her comments on this blog were always so uplifting. We never know what is hidden behind a smile. Thank you for your warning to never simply accept "unspoken" without knowing of the safety situation of the the one requesting. My love and prayers go to you. xo

Melissa said...

I commit to the no unspoken when one on one as well. It just breaks my heart to loose such a vital and strong woman of God that truly ministered to me through her writings and encouraging words. Ministers and PW's are like everyone else...we get depressed, we most definitely have stresses and we are human. That doesn't in the least bit excuse what happen at all but it should make us as ministers realize even more that if we are facing tough things we need to stop hiding behind "appearances" and reach out to our friends and share from our hearts. Making sure to get our friends to do the same!
Love you PD & PL!!

Melissa said...

Wow Deanna I am so sorry about your friend. I cried reading your blog. Life is precious and can be taken away so quickly. I will certainly pay close attention to those "unspoken" words my friends say. You are right the only bright light to this is we know she is now in heaven. No better place to be. Praying for you and for those children that were left behind. Blessings, Melissa

pastorleanne said...

As a private "mind my own business" type of person by nature, I am becoming more and more convicted that I need to stick my nose in other people's business more often. You are right - their lives may depend on it! I am glad that we know where Deborah is right now, but I do grieve for her kids who have lost both of their parents in a horrible way.

DaNella Auten said...

Oh Deanna that does break my heart. I too will push unspokens into speaking, when possible. We can all do a little more.
Love ya chick,
Keep pressing on, GHAP and you're in it.
DaNella

Sister Diana said...

Deanna, words cannot express how I feel about this situation. I did not know Deborah, but I would have loved to. She sounds like such a wonderful Christian lady who loved God and his people. I, also, will remember to question those special unspoken requests because you are right, they definitely could be covering up a very dangerous situation. I will pray for you and the other ladies who are hurting so deeply from this loss, as well as, for her children and family. Love you and appreciate your openness and compassion.