Name changed to protect the family of a dear friend.
My heart is so heavy right now. Ashamed. Disappointed. Reflective. Did I mention ashamed?
Jane Doe came into my life nearly 13 years ago. My younger brother brought her to a church revival service, and the youth group I pastored took her in with warm acceptance. A heavy-set girl, barely 20 years old, newly married. Very beautiful. A laughter that cracked the atmosphere and made joy rain down on those around her. Jane was so moved during one of our revival services that she began weeping as the Sprit moved upon her. Overwhelmed, she exited the sanctuary and went to the basement ladies restroom to make sense of what was happening. My wife followed her, and found Jane kneeling on the floor repenting. As she began to pray with her, Jane lifted her hands to worship God and He filled her with the Holy Ghost… right there on the floor of the ladies’ restroom. I baptized Jane, and for a couple of months her and her husband attended and grew, though he would never surrender to Christ. They disappeared, divorcing sometime during their absence, and it was years until I heard from Jane again. We had moved two hours away to start our church in Kentwood. Life marched forward.
The phonecall came about two months ago… I didn’t recognize the number, and let it go to voicemail since I was busy at the time. I didn’t recognize her voice… it wasn’t full and happy like I remembered her. She simply stated that she got my number from a friend and asked me or my wife to call her back… she needed help. In the midst of busyness, Jane’s message became cluttered with other phone calls, voicemail and requests, and I let it slip away.
The phone rang early this morning, and my mother shared the news that Jane Doe committed suicide sometime during the late hours of the night.
All of the consoling words I could think of… that I’ve spoke to others… the words that release a person from guilt and absolve them from responsibility… they just don’t fit here. She cried for help, and I silenced her. Busily attending to the scrapes and bumps of chronic complainers while the gaping, gushing wound of an old friend continues to drain behind me until her life just vanishes away. I’m so ashamed. I didn’t mean to neglect her, but I did. She reached out to me and I didn’t answer. I should have. Perhaps some people wouldn’t care, but I do… deeply.
I’m reflecting today. I’m going in to work late to get away alone and further analyze myself. I need to learn from this. I love people… I love souls… I genuinely do. My heart breaks open into intercession for the lives God brings into mine. Somehow I created a system of priorities that shut out someone I perhaps could have helped. I know I can’t take the responsibility for Jane’s life… but I feel complicit in her death. While I thought I was the right kind of person, I find that part of me still needs to change… to make room… room for people like Jane Doe.
Thanks for letting me bare my broken heart.
It is stories like this that make me examine where I am on the inside.
Thanks for being transparent and putting the focus back on why God called us to the ministry in the first place.
Jeff, thank you so much for the kind words. Life is such a paradox, so simple, yet so complicated. Ultimately, our desire is to be all that he wants us to be… And to become that also involves heartache and disappointment. Thankfully, it is experience like this that only makes us stronger, and more usable to the Master. God bless you, friend, as you endeavor to be like him!