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Berdine's Corner

Used as God's Tool

by Kenney X. Dennard

berdine dennard
Berdine Dillard Dennard

Life Lessons from a Matriarch

God speaks to us in many different ways. On several occasions after time has passed, someone has come to me and said something that I told them helped them along the way. When they repeat what I said, many times I don't even recall saying it. These are times I realize God used me as a tool to reach someone. In that same way I can recall instances when I feel God is talking to me through someone else. Usually it's when there is something on my heart that I'm trying to resolve. I believe he uses numerous ways to get our attention. Sometimes through human interaction, sometimes other ways. After all, He used a burning bush to get to Moses.

Since my mother, Berdine Dennard passed, I have helped many friends that have gone through a death in the family. Many have called me specifically to talk after a death. I never thought I would be in this position, but I realize I have helped many others just by telling them stories of my mother and explaining the process I went through as my family and I watched her health go from good to bad to terminal. There is one particular moment I will never forget. I'm sure I was used to get to someone, but in return, I got something too.

I was arrested for driving with a suspended license a few years ago. I was really upset because I hadn't even realized that my license was suspended. I thought the officer would have given me a break; especially since I was right up the street from my house when stopped. He didn't. Because it was so late, not only was I booked; I was given the orange jump suit to change into and a 6X10 cell to share with another inmate. I cannot even explain my anger. I was mad at the world; not to mention my cellmate who had fallen asleep, and was snoring ferociously.

I didn't even bother to lay down because I knew I would not get any sleep with this loud fuss. Besides, I was in no mood to sleep. I stood in the corner of the room looking out the peephole at the officers standing outside. Around 3AM, surprisingly, an officer came and got my cellmate for some odd reason. He returned about 15 minutes later. When he sat on the bed we finally got acquainted. He began to tell me how depressed he was. His mother had just died.

I didn't rally care. I was so upset I didn't even mention my mom who had just died 2 years prior.
He talked about 15-20 minutes and I hardly paid him any attention. He expressed to me that he was even more depressed because the last image of him that his mother had seen was when he got arrested at her house and walked away in handcuffs. He regretted not having an appropriate final goodbye. He said he spoke to her on the phone once before she died and told her he would be ok. But that wasn't enough for him then. This made me think about my final goodbye to my mother.

My cellmate went further to say he couldn't even go to the funeral because he was in jail when she died. He said for the past couple weeks all he could do was sleep because he hated being awake thinking about it. I could relate to that depression. Finally, I couldn't hold it anymore; I started to tell him my story.

I told him of the last visit I had with my mama. I then told him about when I came home to Macon after I left her and my dad in Tulsa, Oklahoma where she was in the Cancer Treatment Center. When I got to my parent's house and walked in it felt strange. It was the first time I had ever been there and it felt completely empty. Before I had left Tulsa my mom had told my siblings and I not to be hurt if she didn't take our phone calls. She said she was not in the mood to talk. After walking around her house and feeling total emptiness I was prompted to call anyway.

I called Tulsa and my dad answered. I told him I know my mom didn't want to talk but I asked if maybe she would just pick up the phone and listen. He asked her and she agreed. When she picked up the phone I told her how empty the house felt. The only thing she said was, "That's because all of those angels left there and came down here with me." I then went on to tell her how much I loved her and how I had never imagined living without her.

I explained to my cellmate how I was in NJ a few days later when she stopped breathing. Although I was able to say goodbye while she was on life support, I still felt terrible. I told him I still felt her spirit weeks after she passed though. I let him know his mother knew that he was ok. I told him he just needed to pray to God and take it one day at a time. I said "You will never get over it, but as you start back to do your normal activities you will be able to live without her. I told him to live his life in her legacy. Make her proud because she definitely can see him now."

As I told this story to the inmate about my mother I thought about where I was and how she would feel knowing I was in jail and I started to cry harder than I had since she had been gone. I couldn't finish the story. My cellmate kept saying, "Take your time!" Finally he got up and put his arm around me and I got better.

After we had talked about an hour he told me to go ahead and get some sleep. He said he realized he snored and he didn't want to fall asleep first and keep me up any longer. He said he felt better after our conversation and just needed to think. He suggested that we both pray before I went to sleep though. So there we were in our jail cells, on our knees praying. I then went to sleep. Probably 2 hours later I was awaken because someone had come and bailed me out. Looking back, I figure I had served my purpose.

Reflecting on that incident since then it amazes me how God used me to help this man get out of his depression and used him to slow me down and reflect on how I had been living. I definitely went to jail for a reason; not necessarily for the suspended license. I don't know if any other inmate could have reached him like I did and I don't know if any other circumstance could have opened my eyes the way it did.

God is amazing and works in mysterious ways. From time to time He may be using you as a tool; so be careful what you say and how you act.



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