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Welcoming Discontinuities as a Gift

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

This week we honor the anniversary of the passing of Barbara Deal one year ago. Barbara was a SIA Board Member and also a member of the Legacy Circle, supporting SIA with a bequest from her estate.

From Barbara Deal:

I’ve come to recognize that these things that look to be negative, that look like they are outside of God’s Plan, are really a gift. And I call that gift discontinuity. Our discontinuities can be our greatest friends, the greatest threshold to truth and to learning, if we just have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. A discontinuity is to be welcomed, steadied, embraced, to see what learning the Spirit has for us in that event.

What do I mean by discontinuity? Well, one definition might be, “surprise!” It is to look at the unexpected, to look at the surprises, and find that there is almost always a spiritual treasure hidden in their folds. A deeper definition of discontinuity can be found by looking at its roots. Continuity is something that continues as we expect it to continue, right? Uninterrupted. A predictable flow of life, or of a relationship, or of events. A progression. Discontinuity is an interruption to that expected flow, or event, or relationship. Our human nature is most comfortable when we are surrounded by predictability. And by secure outcomes that we see unfolding around us. However, the treasures are often in the discontinuities and what we learn from them.

Discontinuities aren’t always things that we experience as bad things in our lives, either. A new job, maybe which requires a move to a new location, is certainly a discontinuity. An interruption to our expected continuity. Falling in love is a discontinuity of the best kind. Having a child is a discontinuity. A transformational spiritual experience, even a revelation, is a discontinuity, because it is an interruption of how we expect things to unfold around us. We want the good things in our lives to continue uninterrupted, of course. However, I have come to learn that all discontinuities are our friends, because of what they open us up to.

I’ve come to think of discontinuity as God’s way of gently grabbing me by the shoulders, and giving me a soft shake, and saying, “Come on, Barbara, wake up. I’m giving you this gift of discontinuity for you to discover how to grow in Love, to grow in awareness, to go farther out in discovering spiritual principles.” Discontinuities can plow us – and plow the heck out of us – and plow us ever deeper turning up fresh and fertile soil for growth.

Memories of Barbara, from Gloria Teimuge:

Gloria was one of Barbara’s caregivers in her final days. Gloria is also writing a series for the SIA blog about Kenya. (Pictured Left, L to R: Tanya Cothran, Gloria Teimuge, Dennis Kiprop, Samuel Teimuge)

Barbara Deal was gentle, kind and wise. Those are the qualities I first noticed when I met Barbara. One afternoon, I had a nudge, a strong feeling, that pushed me to go see her in her room. Barbara and Tanya had arrived in Eldoret a few days prior and were still getting antiquated with the environment-it was a bit cold that time of the rainy season. Barbara was so pleased to see me. We had only communicated via letters before and had never met until her visit. So it was quite a big moment for the both of us.

We had a long and warm conversation about everything from career choices to school, relationships to environmental laws and everything in between. She loved to engage in conversation and we had discussions that enabled us to understand each other more.

I could sense her wisdom and discipline, words of encouragement, and understanding as we talked on and on. She was well-traveled and told me the stories of places she had been, people she had met, and memories that she cherished. We found time to chat each evening and explored different topics.

As we mark one year since we laid Barbara to rest, we are celebrating a life well-lived. A life that was full of love and peace, and a love which was led by faith.

A special tree was planted in memory of Barbara on July 11, 2019 (pictured right). I remember Tanya Cothran, Naomi Ayot, Miriam Leting, and I going to look for the perfect tree to plant. We got a hardwood tree, Elgon teak, which is known to be strong, durable, and resistant to harsh environmental conditions. As the tree grows beautifully every year, we are reminded of a dear sister and friend.

She was a strong Christian and a child of God, and never hesitated to mention that. Through Barbara, I have made friends that I am forever grateful for. Through Barbara, I have learnt the power of friendship and gratitude.

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