Hi. My name is Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall). I am a writer. I am a storyteller. Here, you will find no dead bodies, no blood, no gun cartridges in the road, no body bags, no hearses, no handcuffs…Here, the photographs are different….the stories are different.
Quite frankly, I am tired of seeing so much negative news about those in the inner city. There is another side. Therefore, it is my mission to do what I can to shine the light on the positive people this community has, and continues to produce.
Welcome to ‘Over the Hill…The Other Side.’
Let’s be real: you’ve gossipped before right? You won’t readily admit it, but it’s probably true.
In fact, I’ve gossipped before – and I’m not proud of it. Quite frankly, it’s a shame. It’s nasty. It’s hurtful.
It may not be murder or robbery, but it’s still sin. It’s wrong. The reality is we can “murder” or “kill” someone’s reputation with gossip. We can “rob” someone of their peace when we disturb their spirit because of what is being said. Proverbs 26 verse 20 says, “Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.” Whether the information is true or false, why be the wood that enables the fire? If the person were present, would you still share that information?
Look, you have probably heard what someone has said about you right? Didn’t it hurt or disappoint you? Have you not done the same at some point over WhatsApp or while meeting up with your friend at Starbucks or on the phone? Even Christians sometimes get caught up in gossip while sharing and asking another Christian to pray about a matter. Beware believers!
We preface the gossip with:
“I understand that…” “I heard that…” “My friend (name), is going through the same thing. The only difference with her is…”
If someone has shared something personal with us or we are aware of a matter – whether a married man has children with other women, a woman wears the pants in the relationship, a couple has been trying for years to conceive, your colleague’s nephew died of AIDS or the next door neighbour’s godson got caught stealing from his workplace –is that our business? Does it concern you? How is the information being shared helping the situation?
Think: Is what you’re saying edifying or fueling the rumour mill? What if it were you or your family member being discussed? How would you feel? Proverbs 25 verse 9 encourages us to, “…discover not a secret to another.” And remember, he who gossips with you, will gossip about you! Why not choose to uninstall your internal gossip app?!
Here are FOUR practical tips to stop gossip in its track:
1) Switch on the gossiper and find something positive about the person or situation to say. Turn the tables.
2) Be bold and say, “Honestly, that’s her/his business. Let’s leave it alone.”
3) If you are in a group and gossipping is occurring, literally remove yourself with an “Excuse me. I have to leave.” And if for some reason, it’s impractical, simply do not join in the conversation. If someone pushes you by asking a question, simply say, “I’m staying out of it” or “It aine my business.”
4) Turn the gossip into an opportunity to pray. Encourage the person gossipping to pray about it and remind them that God is able to turn the situation around.
Today, let us pledge to do better regarding gossiping:
Writer’s Note: This is a special feature in honour of my nephew, Matthew, who is autistic.
By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
This is Matthew. He is my nephew. He is autistic.
One person might describe him as different. Another, might say he’s special. Matthew though, is simply unique.
For me, he is “Sweet boy.” For his cousin Nicole, he is “Handsome.” For his other cousin, Shelton, he’s “Ma-CHEW!” For his mom, Matthew is “Poonkins.”
As the world pauses to take note of Autism Awareness Month, the families of those on the spectrum deal with it daily…the quirks of each of these gifted people. Here are a few of Matthew’s:
Matthew loves water: He turns on the faucet in the bathroom or kitchen and either plays in it or scoops it up in his hands and drinks it.
Matthew loves music: His favourite songs at the moment are Alicia Key’s ‘Girl on Fire‘ and Kirk Franklin’s, ‘Smile‘ (He knows how to find them on YouTube).
Matthew has a hearty appetite: He eats slices and slices of bread. He loves bread. He also loves fries and especially nuggets (During a party in pre-school, while everyone else had Happy Meals, Matthew had nuggets).
Matthew loves the outdoors. A drive in a vehicle is a joy for him.
Matthew wouldn’t have a conversation with you, but he would repeat a commercial verbatim.
Matthew repeatedly plays the intro of Law and Order on YouTube – a show his mom often watched while he was in the womb and after his birth. She went on to nickname him, ‘The Law and Order Baby.’
Matthew rocks and repeatedly makes humming sounds.
That’s Matthew and we love him.
It was October 29th, 2010 when Matthew made his entrance into our lives. In the beginning he gave my brother Michael and his wife, Nina, several scares.
Nina had an unplanned c-section, as Matthew “failed to progress.” He was discharged from hospital two days later, but while at home on that day, he began making shrieking noises. Those noises were abnormal. They weren’t the usual cries of a baby.
Within hours of his release from hospital, Matthew was back. In his parents’ presence, the doctor began pulling on Matthew’s toes and shaking his arms, but he was not responding. No cries. In that moment, the doctor – with Matthew in hand – dashed down the hall, leaving his parents in shock. Chaos broke out as other doctors bolted in the same direction.
Meanwhile, Nina collapsed on the floor in despair. She was crying. She was nervous. She had questions. She was afraid she would lose her son. This was her first child. Her only child. What could be wrong?
Michael and Nina later learned that Matthew had stopped breathing.
And while admitted to hospital, he had stopped breathing a second time.
But Matthew was a fighter. He still is a fighter.
I remember the night when he was transported to Miami Children’s Hospital (now called the Nicklaus Children’s Hospital) via air ambulance. My mother and I solemnly walked behind Michael, Nina, Nina’s mother and the nurse from the children’s hospital. As we walked the halls to the waiting ambulance – which would head to the airport for this emergency flight – it was as though everyone we passed was clearing the way for the prince. There was something special about those moments. Matthew seemed to have everyone’s attention. Everyone was fixated on this tiny baby being wheeled through the hallway. And as I was praying silently, I believe others watching may have said silent prayers as well.
Nina recalls that day, saying, “Mentally, I wasn’t there. I do remember that day as clear as day though. My mom went with him on the flight, but because I didn’t have my visa, I couldn’t go right then. I was on the flight the next day.”
Matthew remained hospitalized in the United States for one month.
Nina has learned a lot in the past 10-and-a-half years. Initially, she had heard about autism, but didn’t know much. But when Matthew was two, Nina realized something was awry. She and Matthew were at her friend’s house and she called Matthew by name; however, he was not responding to his name. After Nina mentioned to her friend that Matthew was delayed with walking and was non-verbal, her friend suggested that perhaps he was autistic. That reality was eventually officially diagnosed.
“The first few years were difficult. Every November/December, he would get sick and not eat. His sugar would drop and that would scare me. He was hospitalized two more times,” the mother of one recalled.
Today, Matthew is a happy, for the most part healthy young boy. But there are those times when he has meltdowns.
“That affects me hard. It’s rough. Being non-verbal, you don’t know if he’s in pain, having a tantrum or a meltdown. He can’t say, ‘Mummy, I have a tummy ache’ or ‘My head hurts.’ It’s depressing. When he’s crying, I’m crying. I sometimes take him on a drive and if he calms down right away, I know it’s a tantrum,” admitted Nina.
Questioned as to advice to someone with a child on the autism spectrum, Nina immediately said patience is necessary.
“You have to accept that the child is on the spectrum. Some parents are in denial. I have a cousin who was non-verbal for a while and today he is normal, but when Matthew was not responding to his name, I accepted something was wrong, so you must get as much information as possible, like from REACH (Resources and Education for Autism and related Challenges) and tell family and friends what the situation is,” she added.
Noting that some autistic children are high functioning, there are those like Matthew who take a while to do certain things. For example, it was a while before he learned to feed himself and go to the restroom on his own. He also needs occupational and speech therapy. Interestingly though, Matthew sometimes has surprises up his sleeves. He once told his mother, “I ga spank you!” He also told her, “Go sit down!” And then there was that time when they were at her family’s reunion on Blue Lagoon Island and as they walked deeper into the water, Matthew shouted, “I can’t do it!”
Looking to the future, Nina said she simply wants the best for Matthew. She watches videos and tv shows which give her hope. She said she also prays about the matter.
“I will try my best for him to get what he needs. I’m also waiting to see what his gift is. When I find out, I’m gonna run with it. God didn’t let this child stop breathing twice without him being here on this earth for a reason,” she concluded.
As I discussed Proverbs 3: 5-6 tonight during Bible study, I was sharing how acknowledging God is speaking who He is: The Great I Am that I Am, the first and the last, the sovereign God…acknowledging He is this big God.
THEN, for the first time in all my years studying this verse, it hit me – or rather was revealed to me – that acknowledging God in all my ways is trusting that His plan is best…His way is best.
Acknowledging God is surrendering to His will and being obedient to that will – even if we don’t understand it. But we trust Him to the point that whatever the outcome, we know he’s got us and we’re safe.
It’s, “Not my will, but thy will be done.” I acknowledge you not just to get me to the destination, but I trust you for the journey as well.
Have you heard gospel singer, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard’s song, You know My Name? Do you believe it?
It’s true. It’s scriptural.
God knows the names of all who are His.
Early this morning as I read John 10, I saw verse 3 in a different light. It says: “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.”
What was revealed to me was, he not only knows my government name – that name my parents registered me in – but he knows me by the name, “Christian.” That, is also my name.
I started thinking and questioning myself: Am I living up to my name? You see, once we are covered in the blood of Jesus and have a personal relationship with God, then are we truly Christians. Christian is not simply saying we believe in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit or we are Christian because we attend church and are affiliated with the Christian faith. It’s living out the Christian life in word and in deed from the way we speak to people to how we handle them, to whether we are putting God first…do we love Him and love our neighbours as ourselves?
Further, Exodus 20:7 speaks to not taking the name of the Lord our God in vain. That’s not only casually dropping His name as a swear word or in a joke. When we say we are Christian, but don’t live as Christians, that’s also taking His name in vain. It’s like pretending to be a part of the royal family, but not being blue-blooded. It’s easy to dress the part, speak the language and blend in. But when Jesus looks upon us, can He call us by the name, “Christian”?
Just as there is fake news, there are fake Christians. The sad thing is there are those who are tares, growing among the wheat, but the time will come for there to be separation. Let us ensure we are not among those who say in that day, “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” However, God responds: “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). Lord, God have mercy! For people to believe they are Christians…saved…but in the end, He never even knew them…this is sobering.
So are we living up to the name the Good Shepherd calls us? Let us examine ourselves to see that we are in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5).