Updated on August 14, 2023
Doug Tales 131: Friends, Part One
After Jesus taught His followers—His friends—“hard sayings” many “murmured at it [and] he said unto them, Doth this offend you? … From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?” (John 6:60-66). Doug Mendenhall found that sharing about his daughter’s spiritual gifts and connection to Christ caused divisions between him and his former friends. He writes about one such early experience in My Peace I Give Unto You (2001), pp. 114-119:
Telling one friend and his wife just the little bit that I did about my daughter created a strong desire within me to tell the whole story. I wanted to share all of Denise’s gifts with someone but I didn’t know who I could tell.
I had shared a few of the things with some of our family but the reception was cold enough to prevent me from telling them anymore and I was afraid that if I told anybody in our congregation they would reject us. But I couldn’t keep it in. I just had to share it! I had to tell someone of all the miraculous events happening to us.
And then a few days before Christmas He gave me the opportunity I asked for. My good friend Jeff and his wife, who had moved eight hours to the south of us last summer, was in town visiting family.
They had heard of Denise’s stroke and about the coma, but hadn’t heard much more than that. They had no idea of the gifts my daughter had been blessed with. I decided that I could tell them about her gifts, because we had shared so much together over the years. I figured they were close enough friends that they wouldn’t think us crazy. I even hoped that they would believe what we were about to tell them.
“Come on in, Jeff and Sharon, it’s cold out there.” I stepped aside. “Go on up. We’re so thrilled to see you guys. I’m glad you were able to stop by.”
“Sit down Sharon. Can I get you a drink? We have some soda.” Dianne offered.
“Oh, thank you, water would be fine.” She refused to sit. “You look good, Dianne. After all I had heard about what you’ve been through, I wasn’t sure . . .” Sharon hesitated, “Well . . . I’d be a wreck now if it were me.” She followed Dianne into the kitchen, talking….
“So what has been going on in the neighborhood?”…Jeff loved knowing everything about everybody.
“Not much new. You know how we are here.” I didn’t really want to gossip with him, I wanted to share with him.
“So, where’s Denise?” Sharon asked Dianne as they reentered the living room. “Here’s your drink, Jeff. Anyway, that must have been very scary, Dianne. I had no idea you were that close to losing her.”
“What did I miss?” Jeff asked his wife.
“Dianne started telling me about what happened with Denise.”
Dianne continued on as if Jeff and I had been listening from the beginning.
“The doctors had written her off. In fact, we just found out a few days ago that the first two days she was in a coma they were wanting to talk about organ donation,” Dianne replied as Denise entered the room and sat next to her. Denise seemed a little subdued for some reason.
“You look great, Denise!” Sharon smiled at her.
“So what did happen?” Jeff asked.
“Well, the Friday after Halloween she went into a coma.” I restarted the story. “When we went into her room we couldn’t wake her. We had no idea she was diabetic and no clue what was wrong with her, just that she wouldn’t wake up. The doctors figured that it was at that time she suffered the stroke.”
I recounted our experience of our flight to the hospital. I told them of the dire outcome the doctors told us to expect, of how the stroke she suffered had destroyed two-thirds of the left side of her brain. I explained to them the hopelessness and pain we felt, and how at its worst, we were given the gift of His Peace. I explained that afterward we were okay with whatever the outcome would be. I recounted how the following Monday afternoon Denise woke up and spoke to me, going against everything the doctors had predicted and expected.
Dianne told of Denise’s miraculous recovery that confused the doctors. How, in just a few weeks, our daughter had progressed more than they had expected her to do in nine months. She retold of how Denise would walk the physical therapists to exhaustion. She told of our incredible Thanksgiving due to the generosity of others.
“We had no idea, none.” Sharon said and reached over to pat Denise’s leg while she snuggled up to Dianne.
“Few people did. We didn’t say much because we had already accepted whatever the outcome was to be. We were at complete peace,” I said and noticed a brief look of disbelief on Jeff’s face. I realized that he probably had no basis to understand the incredible Peace our Father in Heaven blessed us with.
“And then things started happening.” I led into Denise’s wondrous gifts.
I told them of how I discovered our daughter could see auras and explained each of the colors to them. I explained her ability to leave her body at night and travel. How she was often taught by people in the spirit world, including some ancient prophets. I recounted the night of the slumber party downstairs and how Denise could see spirits. Then I told them of how Denise could see Jesus Christ and how the Savior often spoke to her and spent time with her, teaching her.
“Why would the Savior spend so much time with a ten-year old little girl? I would think that He would have more important things to do.” Jeff commented.
I looked in his eyes and saw skepticism. I looked at Sharon and saw sympathy. “He would because He loves her like He loves all of us. He would spend the time with all of us if we would let Him.” I answered.
“That’s a beautiful story, Doug, Dianne. The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways.” Sharon said and at once I knew, by the sound of her voice, that the sympathy I saw was not directed towards Jeff for his lack of understanding but to us. She believed we were confused, misled and even delusional.
“Denise, where is Christ?” I turned to my daughter for help. I thought she might be able to prove to them that what we had said was the truth. They had to believe us. They were our close friends.
Denise looked at me and smiled as if to say, ‘It’s okay Daddy, they don’t have to believe for it to be true.’ She looked at Jeff and Sharon in turn and smiled at each one, but said nothing.
“Wow! Sharon, look at the time! We really have to be going.” Jeff quickly stood, motioning Sharon to get up and leave. “That was some story. I’m just glad that Denise is okay.”
He quickly directed Sharon to the stairs as he reached out to shake my hand. His face smiled but his eyes revealed fear. Sharon said her good-byes from the bottom of the stairs and Jeff hurriedly followed her out the door with promises to visit again the next time they were in town. The door closed. Dianne and I stood at the top of the stairs unsure of what had just happened.
“I guess it’s kind of hard to accept the first time you hear it all.” I said to no one in particular. “Denise, Christ was with us tonight, right?”
“Yes.” She said.
“Why didn’t you say anything when I asked you where He was?” I turned and tried to read her facial expressions as well as understand her words.
“He didn’t want me to. He said they wouldn’t understand what you told them even if I helped.”
I so wanted them to believe us and thought Denise could have helped had she spoken up. I peered into her eyes and acknowledged to myself once again that I did believe regardless of Jeff and Sharon’s reaction. Even more than that, I knew that she had those gifts. I knew that she spoke to my Savior. I knew because my experiences encompassed much more than just my senses.
My Savior had spoken to my heart and I knew that what I had told Jeff and Sharon was true.