(Warning! Please note I needed to get some things off of my heart...and some of this is probably difficult to read/understand.....very stream of thought)
For those of you who do not have the pleasure of knowing my friend, Jill--I really feel badly that you're missing out. Jill is probably the most incredible person I've ever met, and I can honestly say that my world is a better place because she is here. I normally do not let people affect me too much--at least personally. It takes a lot for me to let you into my world--of course that sounds a little odd being that I blog and random people can see my daily musings. I think the buffer of the internet keeps me from worrying too much--and that I can't see people's faces, so I don't ever have a good idea of what they think.
Anyhow, I've only known Jill for a few years. She and I became acquainted through a small group we were a part of. I actually didn't know what to think about Jill when I first got to meet her. I was so ignorant of her battle with ALS, and I didn't know what she was facing. I knew it was serious, but not how serious. I always admired Jill from a distance. She has such an incredible strength, that even when she admits to being afraid, she's still incredibly tough. Her ability to look in the face of death and not lose all self-control astounds me.
Recently I've been going through an interesting (precarious) situation and Jill has been there every step of the way ("stalking" as she calls it). Her encouragement and her prayers have put so many of my doubts and fears in check. How can I be so worried about trivial details when she has serious life and death concerns? How can I be so stupid to worry about a cut into my family time a few afternoons a week when she has to say goodbye to hers for good? How can I be so vain about my almost-30 body, when she relies on a super-powered chair to get around? It's like a slap in the face when I think about how ridiculous I am sometimes when Jill is dealing with much more serious concerns.
And to make it worse (better?) Jill WANTS to share my burdens. She has enough worries for 10 people, and she wants to share in my worries. Who does that? How many people in this world seriously look past their own noses and take on part of your burdens? Most of us can probably think of a small handful.
Today was the ALS Walk in Greenville. It was so nice to see so many people from our church family come to support Jill by walking.
I had mixed emotions leading into the walk. On one hand, I would walk to California and back if I knew it would bring a cure for this terrible disease. Knowing what this disease is doing and will do to Jill breaks my heart weekly as I see her progress. However, I wasn't sure if I would have the strength to make it through without breaking down in tears at the the awareness of what this walk represented. Of course it's a day of celebrating those who are courageous in their fight, but it also reminds me that unless God decides to provide her with a cure, one day we'll be walking in memory of Jill.
I wasn't sure if I could deal with the magnitude of that realization.
Last night as I was trying to decide what I wanted to put on the poster board signs for the girls' wagon, I reread through most of her blog. I wanted to find something that was just right--and personal--from me to Jill in the event that I didn't or couldn't talk to her at the walk (for Jill is quite the celebrity), she would know what I meant. I didn't see anything that quite fit my idea of what I wanted, so I finally decided on this:
Because Jill is beautiful.
She is a lovely woman, and yes, this disease has altered her body, and will continue to alter her body until Jesus provides her with a new one. But, Jill is more than outwardly beautiful. She represents the Love lavished upon us by our Heavenly Father. She deals with ALS with dignity (even when she's sad and angry), and she continues to look for ways to help others know about her faith. She loves people in a way that most cannot. She fails to let her body stop her from being a part of our lives.
When I see Jill, I see Christ.
She exudes Him.
She loves Him and it is evident that He loves her.
He has allowed her to hold onto this tremendous burden, and yet she continues to live her life for Him. She has used this sickness as a means to share her story with others. He trusts her to not be overcome by this battle because He knows she can handle it. God has promised to never give us more than we can endure--so He must have great faith in His servant to allow her to suffer so.
When I see Jill, I only see light. A heavenly light. She holds a brightness that can only come from God.
I love the movie The Village. There is a scene in the movie in which the blind girl shares how she sees people as colors. I love that imagery.
When I see Jill, I see white. I see her pureness. . .her openness. . .her ability to take this incredible struggle and WIN.
And make no mistake--SHE WILL WIN.
She is already winning.
Satan cannot touch her heart because she has trusted it with the One who died for her.
I know, one day, Jill's body (but not her spirit) is going to be overcome.
She will join Jesus and I also know that one day I will be able to sit next to her at the Heavenly vanity area and we'll chat.
But, in the in-between I want to soak her up because she has helped me in more ways then she will ever know because I know I will never be able to tell her without having a huge, ugly, moment with a lot of snot and tears.
But, Jill, I love you so. You have no idea how much I admire you and Cliff and how my heart breaks for the two of you, as well as for the rest of us who love you two.
Your life has encouraged me to be better and not accept myself for face value.
Thank you for pushing me to move forward.
Thank you for making me a better person.
Thank you so much for allowing me to walk beside you for a part of the journey.