For those of you who have followed me on Facebook, you know about my spur of the moment journey to San Antonio to pray with officer Deckard’s family. For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook, I’ll briefly update you. For all of you, what you are about to read is one of the most humbling and grounding experiences I have had thus far in our journey since J’s death. I hope that the story I’m about to share and my reflections thereafter move you the same way they moved me. I pray that as you read this you too feel God’s presence in your life, and that you will feel a desire to give back as well.
Please note that I didn’t intend to share this trip with anyone. I didn’t want any recognition or praise for my decision. My posts on Facebook were merely to rally more prayers for a well-deserving wife and family. However, as the events of the day unfolded, it became increasingly evident that sharing was meant to be a part of this journey. So, please note, this isn’t a post designed to generate praise for my decisions, instead it’s a post designed to demonstrate the power of our God and how gratifying and rewarding it can be to follow His will.
So, here I was absent mindedly scrolling through my newsfeed while waiting for the cashier at Super One to finish my transaction. And, I happen upon a status update from 53 hours stating the condition of San Antonio Police Officer Robert “Bobby” Deckard’s condition wasn’t improving. As I read about his status, tears filled my eyes. I was reading a summary of injuries that mirrored those I heard from our own doctors 6 months prior. After finishing reading and rushing out of Super One, this urge to drop everything and go to San Antonio kept pulling at my heart. I texted a friend to see if she would tell me I was crazy to even consider dropping everything and driving 7 plus hours to San Antonio. I fully expected her to pacify my urge, but to tell me it was crazy. Well….she didn’t. And she didn’t because that trip to San Antonio was meant to be.
And so, I put away the cold items, as I attempted to get a hold of someone at SAPD. You would think getting to talk higher ranking officers would be more difficult…however it wasn’t. In a matter of 15 minutes I had arranged the trip with the family assistance officer who is helping the Deckards through this time. At this point, it’s obviously a God thing. For those of you who visited me in the hospital, you understand the tight security; however, I passed through it with flying colors. I packed our bags, and headed to San Antonio. On the way, I got a call saying my hotel reservations had been anonymously taken care of, and was told where to report for the night to ensure my safety. Let me just stop for a moment and say, there really are no boundaries to our blue family. As if I even needed validation of that!
Other than dropping off C, I drove straight through. I arrived at the hotel at exactly midnight. I checked in, showered, and spent what time I should have been sleeping, praying. If you can’t sleep…you might as well pray. How could I sleep? I just dropped everything, literally on my kitchen floor, and left my house, drove almost 8 hours non stop, and I found myself lying in the bed of a hotel room in San Antonio. I was in awe at my own decision. I tried to figure out what made me decided to come, but all that came to mind was I was in a way told to make the trip. I laid in bed for quite some time, and prayed. I prayed that somehow through all the pain I’ve experienced I could turn that experience into a comfort for his wife and family. That when I walked away from the hospital at the end of my visit, I could help create a blessing in someone else’s storm.
Throughout my visit, Officer Deckard’s condition didn’t change. The doctors seem to be nearing the end of the aide they can render, and at this point if he is to make through, it would be a “God thing.” I prayed as I waited to meet his wife Denise. And, I talked for awhile with his family. During my conversations with them, I couldn’t help but feel like maybe this was a mistake. Maybe I was imposing. Maybe I should have just remained at home and prayed. But, when Denise and I sat down to talk, the words just flowed out of my mouth. Our conversation lasted what seemed like only a few minutes, but apparently was an hour and a half. And throughout it we seemed to finish one another’s sentences, complete thoughts that the other struggled to find the words for, and shared feelings that everyone else would think were absurd. When I looked at Denise, I saw the same fear, anxiety, hurt, and exhaustion that I saw in my own eyes 6 months prior. I couldn’t help but revisit those fears and feelings. Honestly, as I drove to San Antonio, I doubted whether or not I was emotionally ready for what I was about to experience. As I looked into Denise’s eyes, and she finished my sentences, I knew this was where I should be.
I’ve said time and time again how I feel there is a purpose in J’s death. And each time I try to find that purpose, I always find myself saying, “Well, I don’t think God took J’s life JUST for that…” and I try to figure out what purpose would be worthy enough in God’s mind to take J from his family. I’ve struggled with my calling because even with all of the affirmations, I haven’t felt it was a “worthy enough” cause to take J away from his little boy. Each time I try to weigh out why it happened, my scale never balances. No matter how many reasons I place on the side to rationalize why God would have taken him, it just never seems to equal out.
Up until I looked into Denise’s eyes, and I saw her pain, and I felt it all over again in my own heart, did I finally realize why my scales weren’t balancing. It’s because I’m using the wrong scales. I’m using my own…my human rationalization, my human measuring increments when instead it’s not my place to measure out and attempt to balance it out. In my human mind, there will NEVER be a reason worthy enough to take J away from us, but in God’s mind there was. And, I know I may be opening a can of worms here by writing about this, but I truly believe everything happens for a reason. And tonight, I won’t lie to you and tell you that I will always accept that at face value about J’s death.
But, I can tell you that my impromptu trip today was a vivid reminder of my own calling. I know in my heart, I would have never have made that trip before J passed. I would have read the status, prayed a prayer, and went on with my life. I would have never had the courage or determination to make the trip. I struggle because sometimes I despise that J had to die in order for me to attempt to make a change in the world. But, I don’t know how else I would have ever found the courage and strength within myself to attempt. Here we go with those paradoxes again. I want answers and justification for his death. I want to know why…but the answers never appear on beautifully written cards in front of me. “Stephanie, J’s death was because I want…..to happen.” Instead, my answers come only if I follow the path He has set before me. Even if my human scales tell me my calling isn’t reason enough for J to be taken away from us…I simply have to keep walking down His path.
Tonight, as I lay in bed, when yet again I should be sleeping, I’m attempting to place my scales out of my mind. I’m attempting to accept that whatever the reason for J’s death, it’s justifiable in God’s greater plan. I won’t lie, accepting that idea is very difficult. And even after a life changing trip, I still haven’t fully begun to accept it, but the important part is I’m trying…I’m still walking.
When I left for San Antonio, I thought that maybe I’d possibly make a small difference in a wounded officer’s family’s life. That I would pray, and turn around and drive home. Boy…was I wrong. An 8 hour trip gives you a considerable amount of time for reflection. My time spent with Denise and her blue SAPD family was once again affirmation of my calling, but more importantly tonight for the first time in almost 9 days, I hope that Denise doesn’t feel alone in her waiting room of 30 people. I pray that she knows that even though our circumstances are tragic, that we are each other’s examples of blessings during our storms. Denise, if you ever read this, I pray that you feel how much of a blessing you were in my life today. Even though the topic of our conversation was tragic, our bond is an example of something on God can do. It was a moment I was meant to experience because it helped my grieving process as much as yours. Denise, thank you for being my reminder that I need to stop using my own human scales to justify God’s plans.
As I drove to San Antonio and tried to convince myself I was crazy, every single door was opened for me. And each door I drove through helped me erase just a small piece of my scale that I use to justify J’s death. Tonight, I lay here able to at least entertain the idea that it isn’t about my scale, and I pray that eventually that entertainment of an idea will give way to slow acceptance of it as well.
As you read this, I pray that you will identify what scales you use to try to justify behaviors or events in your own life. And that you too will find ways to began to erase that scale. When the scale vanishes or is almost invisible, is when you simply let go and let God. I’m a work in progress; my scale is still very much visible. However, now when I envision it, it’s missing a few pieces. Pray that it will continue to diminish. And, also, please say extra prayers for Officer Deckard and his family. Believe me, prayers are ALL they need at this point.