We all have a story. I love hearing people’s stories. As believers, we all have a testimony of our journey with our Heavenly Father and of the faithfulness of the Lord’s amazing love and grace in our lives. As we are able to share our testimony, we not only overcome the enemy’s power in our lives, but we also are able to encourage others in their walk with the Lord and to bring God the glory He alone deserves. It is by grace alone, through faith alone, that we belong to Him and are able to glorify Him.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Revelation 12:10-11
A “brief portion” of my story is shared below. This is only an excerpt of my journey through great grief, pain and loss. There are a lot more details involving the events of my brother’s untimely and horrific murder, which became newsworthy due to the injustice of it. I hope to one day share that in a book, Lord willing. He was brutally beaten to death at the youthful age of 30 – yes, even writing that is difficult for me to believe still to this day! And, of all places, this murder occurred within the Birmingham City Jail on my brother’s first and final visit. Because Donnie’s murder occurred while under “protective” custody, but instead, the assigned “protective guards” were instigators of setting up the scenario which ended in a very unjust tragedy, this remained publicly in the news for several years. It’s painful enough to work through loss and grief privately, but when the details (and often the skewed portrayal of the details) are made accessible for the public to see, it brings a whole new level of issues that exacerbate your suffering.
Good people pass away;
the godly often die before their time.
But no one seems to care or wonder why.
No one seems to understand
that God is protecting them from the evil to come. Isaiah 57:1
Further adding to the pain was the fact that Donnie’s passing occurred in jail, because this was not indicative of the way my brother lived his life. He served with accolades and honors in the Air Force and Air National Guard as well as being an outstanding employee of The Federal Reserve Bank. Again, that’s another book yet to be written. I am always amazed at how many people go through certain trials and tragedies, and then, a few months or a year or so later, they have a book out! That’s not my story. A lot of other challenging seasons have followed, and for whatever reason, there is not yet a book. I’ll leave that to the sovereign timing of God. I am just now sharing “brief portions” of my story.
On November 13, 2013, after almost 20 years since the passing of my dearly loved and treasured brother, “Donnie” (Donald Lee Deason) on June 13, 1994, I was finally able to share a few poems and thoughts penned years earlier during my journey through grief. See page on this blog entitled “Poems Penned in Pain”. Only through my Heavenly Father’s amazing grace, comfort, healing, and strength, was I finally able to share these not from a spirit of grief, which is truly a testament to the healing work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am not in any way saying I do not still greatly miss my brother, and, to this day, tears over this great loss suddenly come at unexpected times. Anyone who has experienced this type of tragic loss of a close family member understands how this remains a part of your life always. However, I do believe we have a choice in how our grief continues to affect us. This type of deep wound, which words fail miserably to describe, feels like a knife piercing straight through your heart, and can only be comforted and healed through the supernatural work of God’s Spirit. No drug, no person, no experience, nor any amount of money can even come close to relieving the wounds of a grief stricken heart. Only through pressing closer to my Father God through His Word – not just on one occasion – but over and over and over again, encountering His presence in worship and just laying myself before Him with all my questions, anger, hurt, disappointment, and tears, have I been able to experience consoling, peace, and healing. The Lord has been faithful to heal my wounded heart and spirit, and this healing continues to this day.
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and rescues those who spirits are crushed. Psalm 34:18
I know for certain that had I closed myself off from the Lord, and allowed the lies of the enemy to prevail, I would have become bitter and resentful. Bitter or better – it’s our choice! We all have to battle the lies of the enemy and especially in times of suffering and circumstances that seem to have no purpose or make any sense. I had to choose to surrender more of my broken and wounded heart and soul to the Lord, instead of placing up a wall to my heart. It was not easy. It was truly painful. But the pain has led to more healing and freedom in areas that I wasn’t even aware I needed at the time.
This period of intense pain in my life led me directly into birthing the dance ministry at The Church at Brook Hills in 1997, and a specific calling into dance ministry and the ministry of prayer and intercession – overcoming evil with good.
Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good. Romans 12:21
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy. Psalm 30:11
I experienced a lot of God’s healing through many personal times of worship, and, yes, worship through dance. Also, God sent help and healing to me through using certain chosen vessels assigned to connect with me during my valley through the shadow of death and all the sporadically tear-filled days that followed. These divinely led messengers of God who obeyed God’s Spirit to reach out to me in my darkest hours were faithful to give up huge portions of their time praying with me at my home or via the phone. These friends and counselors stayed committed to helping me pass through the valley of the shadow of death not just for a few weeks or months, but over a period of several years. Unfortunately, due to numerous family and court trials that followed and served to aggravate the pain and suffering, it felt more like I had arrived at an island destination named the place of sorrow; many times, it did not feel like I was passing through anything. One new very close friendship was formed and this new friend was divinely appointed to remain for the duration of the hardest part of my grieving season. At one point, I thought I might need to take some anti-depressant medications to help, as I truly battled a season of depression. I fully understand why many need this type of medicinal help and I encourage anyone who is going through a sudden or traumatic loss to seek godly counsel and medical advice especially if you are having trouble functioning with daily activities. Personally, I did not end up having to take medication. God brought healing and strength directly through His presence, His Word, and the prayers and counseling of others. I am thankful I had time to arrange my schedule to spend large chunks of my day in prayer and worship alongside others who were there to help. Through two other local churches, I did pursue grief counseling and further ministry counseling based on Neil T. Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker. Again, let me reiterate that this is my journey through grief, but I do understand why many going through this kind of grief may need medical help or anti-depressants at least for a season. I actually did a little credit card therapy – and that’s another part of this story, but then finally realized I had to press into the throne and not the mall! God also showed me my tendency to run to other “things” to get relief and to escape, and that’s another story too, more relating to breaking free from certain addictive patterns that rise to the surface when we are under stress or pressure. We need to run to The Healer alone when our hearts are broken and we are suffering and in pain.
There have still been times that I have had to truly fight the thoughts from the enemy to focus only on the horrific and violent way Donnie’s life was brutally taken, even in my dreams as well. Because of what I experienced, I have great empathy for those who have lost loved ones violently through murder. It adds another nightmare like dimension beyond the shock, as well as the forgiveness process you must pass through. I do have to put into practice 2 Corinthians 10:5, taking every thought captive and bringing it into the obedience of Jesus Christ, but this is something all believers have to do in this fight of faith.
There are many things we as sons and daughters of the Lord go through that are not “good,” and not only are they not good, but some are horribly tragic, painful, sorrowful, disappointing and difficult to understand. However, those of us who love God and are called to see His purpose, His agenda, and His will carried out in our lives for His glory know that the promise of Romans 8:28 holds true: the Lord will use all of these things “to work together for good.” We only have to trust and believe His promise.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28
Our lives are all a part of a story – His story for His glory!
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name goes all the glory for Your unfailing love and faithfulness. Psalm 115:1
More of the story to come… perhaps not on this blog, but as the Lord leads in His timing.